The Archaeology of Public Policy in Late Roman Greece 9781841715025, 9781407325255

This study looks at Greece (or the province of Achaia) during the period of Late Roman Antiquity with regards to new evi

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The Archaeology of Public Policy in Late Roman Greece
 9781841715025, 9781407325255

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The Archaeology of Public Policy in Late Roman Greece Cynthia Kosso

BAR International Series 1126 9 781841 715025



Published in 2016 by BAR Publishing, Oxford BAR International Series 1126 The Archaeology of Public Policy in Late Roman Greece © C Kosso and the Publisher 2003 Lamp fragments and coins from the Paximadhi Peninsula on Evia, Greece, found during survey in 1986. Drawings by the author.


The author's moral rights under the 1988 UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act are hereby expressly asserted. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be copied, reproduced, stored, sold, distributed, scanned, saved in any form of digital format or transmitted in any form digitally, without the written permission of the Publisher.

ISBN 9781841715025 paperback ISBN 9781407325255 e-format DOI A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library BAR Publishing is the trading name of British Archaeological Reports (Oxford) Ltd. British Archaeological Reports was first incorporated in 1974 to publish the BAR Series, International and British. In 1992 Hadrian Books Ltd became part of the BAR group. This volume was originally published by Archaeopress in conjunction with British Archaeological Reports (Oxford) Ltd / Hadrian Books Ltd, the Series principal publisher, in 2003. This present volume is published by BAR Publishing, 2016.


PUBLISHING BAR titles are available from: BAR Publishing 122 Banbury Rd, Oxford, OX2 7BP, UK E MAIL [email protected] P HONE +44 (0)1865 310431 F AX +44 (0)1865 316916




















APPENDICES Appendix A (Ancient sources and abbreviations) Appendix B (Hierocles) Appendix C (Tax terms) Appendix D (Farmer’s Law)

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This project has benefited from the help and encouragement of many people over a number of years. I've benefited from the insights of un-named readers. In the projects earliest incarnation, Jack Davis shared a great deal of his time with me, and this work is better for his advice. Northern Arizona University has been generous with their support through three summers of "Organized Research Grants" and I thank in particular members of my department, George Lubick who has urged me to complete the project and Delno West, who was my mentor when I first arrived in Flagstaff. Many people have read and commented on parts of this manuscript or have otherwise corresponded with me and willingly discussed related issues. I therefore wish to thank Sibylle Gruber, Jean Boreen, Laura Grey-Rosendale, Kevin Lawton, Marylou Markle. BethMoser. Susan Alcock, Michael Alexander, Susan Cole, Tracey Cullen, Jack Davis, Steve Fanning, Michael Jameson, Don Keller, Peter Kosso, Lin Foxhall, Curtis Runnels, Roz and Eric Schneider, Anthony Spawforth, Tom Strasser, Robert Sutton, Mac Wallace. Effie Athanassopoulou and Paul Halstead provided helpful and stimulating discourse at Nemea and Effie provided a great deal of help with Byzantine artifacts there. Lambros Missitzis helped on several occasions with Greek. Because this study has utilized published and unpublished archaeological material, I owe thanks to the directors of many projects being undertaken in Greece. Professors Curtis Runnels, Michael Jameson and Tj. van Andel gave most generously of their data from the Argolid Exploration Project and Curtis Runnels and Michael Jameson answered many questions about their work. From the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project I must thank Professors James Wright, John Cherry, Jack Davis and Eleni Mantzourani, for giving me access to their material. Jack Davis, Susan Alcock and Robert Sutton were of great help with the data. From the Keos Archaeological Project thanks are due again to John Cherry, Jack Davis and Eleni Mantzourani. Their work has been a model for me (however imperfectly followed) and I am grateful for their generous sharing of data. Particular thanks are due to the members of the Southern Euboea Exploration Project. I first began working there as a volunteer in 1986. Their enthusiasm and generosity is notable. So I thank Don Keller, Mac Wallace, Roz and Eric Schneider and the many others who have worked in Karystos. I cannot adequately thank Peter, for his unflagging patience and support.


FIGURES Figure 1.1: Greek provinces according to the Notitia Dignitatum (ca. CE 413-426) and the Synekdemos (ca. CE 528). Figure 1.2: A Selection of Regional Studies in Achaia. Figure 3.1: Site plan with chapel and Roman remains. Figure 3.2: Seep Fineware Pottery, Tiles, and Possible Villas/Estates. Figure 3.3: Site Continuity, Intensive and Extensive Surveys. Figure 3.4: Summary of small sites in Achaia and on Melos. Figure 3.5: Approximate areas of increased Late Roman rural activity from survey data.

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TABLES Table 1.1: Selection of Official Sources for Provincial Status Table 2.1: Technical Terms Usually Translated as Abandoned or Deserted Table 2.2: Imperial and Church Landholdings in Achaia Table 3.1: Regional Archaeological Studies Table 3.2: Chronologies of Regional Projects Table 3.3: Site Sizes Table 3.4: Site Continuity and New Sites Table 3.5: Large Estates, Villas and Elite Sites Table 3.6: Continuity and New Sites: Unquantifiable Table 4.1: Theoretical Relationship of Landuse and Landholding

11 25 29 32 33 36 39 41 45 55

PHOTOGRAPHS Photo 3.1: Surveyors Beginning Close Collection at Villa Site, Euboea (photo by Peter Kosso) Photo 3.2: Pottery And Tiles, Placed on a Grinding Stone On-Site (photo by author) Photo 3.3: Modern Chapel (photo by author) Photo 3.4: Roman Period Millstone At 86C10 (photo by author)

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Greece, in all its manifestations, continues to capture the imagination and provoke curiosity. Students and scholars of history and archaeology still look to Greece for cultural models and inspiration. Susan Alcock’s valuable study, Gracia Capta (1993), helped begin a trend reconsidering antiquity (in her case, Roman Greece) in light of new kinds of archaeological evidence. Similarly, I revisit Late Roman antiquity in Achaia in light of new evidence, texts, and new scholarly interpretations of the Late Antique economy (e.g. Banaji 1999 and 2002).1 In this book, I have looked to Greece to increase our understanding of how imperialism and colonialism affect conquered territories. In particular, I am interested in how certain kinds of textual and material evidence found in Greece and dated to the era of Late Roman control of Greece (the province of Achaia) can be used to tell us more about the socio-economic patterns that were imposed on Achaia (the province of Greece) by the government in Constantinople in Late Antiquity.

the ancient world (e.g. Finley 1985; Goreki 1977; Hopkins 1980; Liebeschuetz 1987; c.f. Morely 1998). There is, however, good evidence to suggest that ancient leaders were aware of means by which they could affect their citizens’ behavior (beyond the obvious ones: physical restraint or punishment). In part, I am investigating that idea of ancient governmental inefficiency. What did the Roman emperors want their citizens to do, especially concerning agricultural practices? What were the intentions or goals of the policies, which attempted to motivate citizens to behave in the ways desired by the emperors? Did the emperors achieve their goals, and by what means? My claim is that the Emperors of the Later Roman Empire understood how to manipulate the way agricultural land was used and the effects of their manipulation can be measured and understood by means of the archaeological record. The rulers in Constantinople, I believe, created and implemented public policy that exploited the resources of the provinces to benefit the long-term fiscal needs of the empire, and, in so doing, created circumstances that left abundant material in the archaeological record. Specifically, later Roman public policy clearly attempted to increase agricultural production, and these efforts resulted in the more visible archaeological record that has been recognized by surveys.

Conscious and pragmatic manipulation of economic policies is not typically thought to be part of the traditional set of abilities of ancient rulers.2 And so, a central issue for the reevaluation of the late empire has been the nature, goals, and effectiveness of intentional manipulation of the economy and society -- that is, public policies. Public policies are fairly effectively indicated by a system of laws, regulatory measures, and courses of action enacted by a governmental entity (such as the emperor) or its representatives. Typically, now, public policies are statements of principles underlying governmental action and can be expressed as local, state, or national governmental action such as legislation, resolutions, programs, regulations, appropriations, administrative practices, and/or court decisions. Public policies are solutions to what the governing bodies perceive to be public issues. In antiquity, these policies covered a wide range of issues, from agricultural practice to education and welfare reform. They were implemented, in part, through imperial legislation as well as through local social programs. This is a controversial subject, particularly with respect to the ability of ancient governments to articulate and then actively pursue public policy, as we know it today.

This claim, while simple, is not commonplace. I will make use of both material and literary evidence, not merely as discrete bits of data about the past, but as a path toward understanding how people in the past constructed their worlds with words and things (Moreland 2001). The material evidence with which I am concerned comes primarily from archaeological surveys; the literary evidence from inscriptions, law codes, and histories, among others. A re-evaluation of Late Antiquity has already begun, especially now that new material evidence for entire regions has presented the opportunity to show more clearly the functioning of social and economic structures. But, I did not write this book merely because there is now more data to interpret; rather, I wrote it because these data tell us something new about the way that ancient political entities understood and used economic structures to their benefit. At the core of the analysis is an emphasis on what archaeological data tell the historian about how people in the past interpreted their own economic realities.

Until very recently, scholars have argued that ancient bureaucracies were even less efficient at achieving their purposes than modern governments. This idea of the ineffectiveness of government pervaded modern studies of

Specifically, I analyze the political and economic factors that led to policy decisions on the part of the emperors, which produced identifiable settlement and agricultural land-use patterns in the province of Achaia. These factors include an imperial desire to reduce the power of the old elite and to create a stable tax base through increasing effective land use. By analyzing data in this way, the


Thanks are due Dr. Banaji who provided me with relevant chapters of his most recent book prior to its publication. 2 See N. Morely, “Political Economy and Classical Antiquity,” Journal of the History of Ideas 59.1 (1998) 95-114, for an overview of the historical interpretations of the notion of political economy in the ancient world.


project will explain a previously unexplained phenomenon: archaeological projects have discovered abundant artifacts in Roman rural territories (including chapels, villages, farms), while historians typically describe the period as one suffering from abandonment of rural habitations. The evidence from regional studies, as I will demonstrate, strongly suggests that descriptions of the Late Roman world as a struggling, collapsing entity need reconsideration. In revising the traditional accounts of widespread poverty and bureaucratic inefficiency, a combination of archaeological and textual data can be used to argue that the efforts made by the Late Roman government were intended to encourage and protect the small and medium sized landholders who provided the government with a dependable revenue.

Among the most challenging new data are those from the Late Roman period. Given the traditional historical picture of political instability and economic hardship in the Late Roman world, the discovery by surveyors of abundant Late Roman (fourth-seventh centuries) artifacts densely scattered over the landscape was unexpected. The interpretation of this material is especially critical for any understanding of the social and economic development of the later Roman world, since it spans those very centuries that witnessed the permanent division of the empire under Constantine in the early fourth century, the collapse of the West in the fifth century, and the subsequent establishment of the Byzantine state in the East. 2 Thus, the evidence recorded by archaeological surveys in Greece will be used to give a regionally representative view of Achaia. Ultimately, Achaia may serve as an ideal case study of the effects of Imperial administration on land-use in a Late Roman province. I have tried to point out what I see as particularly significant pieces of evidence that explain how Imperial public policy worked to increase the kinds of rural activity that resulted in a greater visibility of the archaeological record.

This analysis of the archaeological data will concentrate on the Roman province of Achaia, which composed much of the territory of modern mainland Greece, for two main reasons. First, it is geographically and politically representative of the empire and was part of the eastern Mediterranean world in both the Roman and early Byzantine Empires. It was an integral part of the Roman imperial world from the second century BCE and thus was historically incorporated into its political and legal systems. Second, modern Greece has long been the site of ambitious and productive regional surveys. The material data collected are vast and rich.

Characteristics of the Eastern Empire Traditional theories about the fall of the Roman empire usually assemble the kinds of evidence that best explain the destruction of a political entity: evidence that portrays dissolution and despair, catastrophes and deficiencies. The theories using this material appear in general histories and specialized studies of the Roman Empire.3 Therefore, it is

The collection of new kinds of archaeological data used in this analysis began in the early 1960’s when the University of Minnesota Messenia Expedition investigated Messenia in Southwestern Greece.1 As a regional archaeological surface survey, the Minnesota expedition mainly hoped to find and record major prehistoric sites in order to reconstruct the Bronze Age settlement patterns of the large and important Mycenaean kingdom of Pylos, with a special concern to clarify the nature of interaction between the people and their environment. Nevertheless, the surveyors assembled data from other periods, and the abundant material evidence, from small fragments of ceramics to large settlements, revealed human use of the landscape from the neolithic through modern eras. The data collected by the surveyors in Messenia, and their cross-disciplinary interpretive approaches to the material, have inspired many similar projects. Since the 1970’s, regional survey projects have proliferated and, naturally enough, so have the data they produce. Since archaeologists have been particularly interested in developing and perfecting survey collection and interpretation, they have discovered a wealth of archaeological data on settlement and regional land-use patterns hitherto unsuspected.


The following pages do not offer a discussion of the fall of the Roman Empire. While theories about the Roman Empire’s collapse and the implications of these theories are peripheral issues, they have directed the discourse on the Late Empire in the East. These theories have also manipulated the kinds of questions historians ask of the data and have profoundly influenced interpretations of the Late Roman world. Recent general theories that seek to explain the rise and fall of complex states further suggest that even if a collapse of Rome is accepted, the Eastern Empire should be considered a separate political entity. Thus, they allow an analysis not manipulated by older conceptions of the Roman polity. 3 Major Themes In The Collapse Of The Roman Empire And Their Proponents: Depletion of vital resources: Boak 1955 (labor shortage); Caudwell 1971, p. 55; Finley 1973 (agricultural decline); Gilfallen 1970 (human resources depleted by lead); Huntington 1915, p. 6, 1917; van Waateringe 1983; Winkless and Browning 1975, pp. 179-182. Catastrophes: McNeill 1976 (plagues, malaria, change in climate). Insufficient response to circumstances: Ferrero 1914; Ferrill 1986 (military explanation); Gibbon 1901 (reprint); Hammond 1946. Intruders (usually “barbarians”): Bury 1928, 1958 (aided by ‘contingent’ events); Mazzarino 1966; Jones 1966; Heather 1992. Societal contradictions (class conflict, mismanagement, poor leaders): Brown 1971, p. 119; Brunt 1961; Caudwell 1971, p. 55; Childe 1941; de Ste Croix 1981; Frank 1940, p. 304; Gibbon 1901(reprint); Guha 1981; Isaac 1971; Jones 1978 (dynastic troubles); MacMullen 1976 (army used improperly); Piganiol 1962; Rostovtzeff 1957; Salmon 1970; Toynbee 1965, p. 9; Walbank 1969, 1970; Wason 1973; West 1933, p. 103; Westermann 1915. Mystical factors (often moralistic): Frank 1970; Gibbon 1901 (reprint); Montesquieu 1950 (reprint);


For the aims, methods, and results of the Minnesota Messenia Expedition, see McDonald and Rapp (eds.) 1972; McDonald 1984; Carothers and McDonald 1979; McDonald and Hope Simpson 1961, 1964, 1969. Two works provide a summary review of regional surveys undertaken before 1983 in the Mediterranean region: Dyson 1982 and Keller and Rupp (eds.) 1983.


not surprising that such theories and their evidence affected modern conceptions of eastern Imperial society.

Any approach to investigating the internal dynamics of empires should include a familiarity with center-periphery models, which are helpful for keeping provincial and capital relations in perspective.3 The center is typically defined as the seat of authority, usually the capital, and is associated not only with a place (buildings and other trappings of a capital), but also with an authority figure (such as an emperor or king), and an ideology. The periphery is more diffuse. It includes all the areas dependent upon the center for either services or decisions that affect its citizens (Gottman 1980, pp. 15-16). When the members of the periphery are resigned to their situation and the socio-political system, there is political stability (generally the case in Greece). When they are not so resigned, the system experiences instability. These obvious facts help to emphasize the basic inequality between the members of the system (Gottman 1980, p. 17; Galtung 1971). The significant component to remember is the relationship (i.e., ideological, economic, and cultural) between the outlying areas and the center. The use of the center-periphery model allows scholars to look at institutional, social, and cultural evolutionary developments, both with respect to motivations for change coming from within the center and those originating in the periphery. Furthermore, this approach will help link more directly the laws, as laid down by the emperors at the center, and the evidence for settlement patterns found in outlying areas. As Alcock (1993) has already effectively argued, Achaia had often been seen as a “backwater” (rarely affecting or being affected by the main currents of political and economic activity), rather than an integral part of the imperial state. By utilizing center-periphery models, she was led, in part, to identify past misinterpretations of the archaeological and documentary data.

The collapse of the empire is frequently linked to the demise of the ‘antique way of life.’ Since there is neither a firm definition of this way of life, nor a consensus on when it ended, the dates and characteristics proposed for Rome’s collapse have vacillated (Clover & Humphreys 1989). Frequently the general descriptions found in these works portray the Late Roman world as increasingly poor and socially troubled. Typically, the economy has provided scholars with one of the most appealing monocausal explanations for the fall of the Roman empire.1 Frameworks for the study of typical imperial behavior (e.g., center-periphery studies) have been effective the interaction between different parts of a complex state. In light of these theories, it is possible to readjust our perspective on the Eastern Empire,2 and make better sense of questions about its character and administrative motivations. Even while scholars of the Roman world have rejected the validity of an Eastern collapse, they often describe each region in similar terms concerning abandonment of land, taxation, and population. The East clearly did not suffer from the stress of invasions and political disruptions to the same degree as the West. The empire had split into separate parts. Socio-economic and political characteristics attributed to the late empire, such as dramatic changes in settlement patterns, land abandonment and the like are now being questioned. In fact, it is now clearer that the Later Roman East saw an increased prosperity with a vibrant monetary economy (Banaji 2002). Thus, the texts themselves need to be reconsidered in conjunction with the archaeological data, separating general descriptions of the unified Roman world from those that specifically apply to the East.

In this analysis, the concentration will be on the motivations for change that originated in the center and worked on the periphery. The center-periphery approach allows us to see Achaia as part of a larger system and forces us to consider the actions of the people in the province as responses to the needs and requirements of the imperial center.

Pelikan 1987 (role of Christianity); Toynbee 1965. Chance coincidence of events: Bury 1923, vol. I; Grant 1976, pp. 19-20, 291-308. Economic factors: Aymard 1954; Boak 1955; Bratianu 1938; Cipolla 1970; Hammond 1946; Heichelheim 1970; Gunderson 1976; Jones 1959, 1964, 1974; MacMullen 1976; West 1933; Westermann 1915. 1 See Table I and especially Cipolla 1970; Bernaldi 1970, pp. 1683, who stresses “over-expansion of global consumption” which exceeded the “possibilities of the economy” (p. 79). He also emphasizes the lack of planned expenditures and excessive cost of the imperial system. Bernaldi argues that increased expenditure led to increased tax burdens which, in a vicious circle, led to tax evasion by taxpayers. This situation ultimately ended in bankruptcy and the creation of “social microcosms” completely cut off from the central authority (p. 83). 2 The Emperors in Constantinople called themselves Romans, and most ancient historians referred to the empire as Roman, so I will call the empire Roman. The terms “Late Roman Empire” and “Eastern Roman Empire” will be used interchangeably. If the western portions of the old Empire are referred to, their geographical orientation will be made explicit. The era is, nevertheless, the early part of the Empire that is often called Byzantine by modern scholars. The name of the empire is not an issue for this study. The term “Early Byzantine” will occasionally be used in later chapters when my sources have used that designation for an archaeological period.

Late Antiquity outside of Achaia “The organization of the countryside has always been seen in one light by the farmer, for whom the relations of production are social – family- and communitybased – and in a different light by the government and ruling class, for whom the countryside is a source of income to be managed. The vision of the government oversimplifies by stressing standardization and ideals. The vision of the farmer overcomplicates, by constant focus on the individual transaction. For antiquity, however, it is the presence of genuine complexity, variety and individual enterprise that needs to be 3

The following are examples of those who have used and/or helped develop center-periphery models in their analyses of imperial behavior: Alcock 1989a, 1989b, 1989c (particularly interesting for the early Roman period); Shils 1975; Rowlands et al. 1987; Ekholm and Friedman 1979; Gottman 1980, pp. 11-26.


emphasized against the idealization.” 55)

(Eyre 1999, p.

monasteries and large estates, that there was long term expansion of wage employment, that the economy was vital and complex, and that the world felt increasingly insecure because of warfare and scarcity (Banaji 1999, p. 194 with Susan Harvey 1990, p. 54; Jördens 1990).

Alcock reconsidered early antiquity in Achaia, but major work also is being done on other regions of the Late Roman world. For example, a significant reevaluation of Late Antiquity has already begun for the province of Egypt. This recent work allows for a chronologically significant comparison and motivation for undertaking my task. Bowman and Rogan’s edited volume emphasizes the antiquity of Egypt, suggesting its special usefulness for tracing long term patterns of life, settlement and land use.1 Naturally, the history of Egypt, and elsewhere, was written in the “rhetoric of the conquerors” (Bowman & Rogan 1999, p. 8 with Thompson 1999, p. 136). Conventionally, Egypt, like Achaia, was wedded to the east and Constantinople after 284 until 642, when control moved into Arab hands. Egypt played a central role in the political history of the eastern Mediterranean throughout this time. (Bowman & Rogan 1999, p. 11). The authors take careful account of the cultural perceptions found within the documents, because “[i]dealization and propaganda may pervade and distort the picture…” that is found in texts and artifacts. (Bowman & Rogan 1999, p. 20). The work further addresses several broad themes, among them are the changing composition of agrarian elites, relationships between state, landholders and peasants, the impact of commercialization on the rural economy, technology, irrigation and water control, and changes in crop patterns and production.

More importantly, scholars of Egypt have now rejected the question that had preoccupied them in the past, namely, were peasants free or bound to large estates? — because new interpretation allows that they might be both free and working and living on large estates (Banaji 1999, p. 195). In addition, it has become clear that regular rural wage labor was used on Egyptian estates as “permanent or resident work-forces” (Banaji 1999, 201-2). Moreover, the bulk of payments on some large estates seems to be derived from “substantial looking tenants” (Banaji 1999, p. 205). Some tenants and workers lived in epoikia (small settlements that were privately owned). (Banaji 1999, p. 206). We see possible evidence of a similar sort of settlement pattern in the survey evidence from Greece. The documents studied by J. Rowlandson further reveal a tenant diversification that went beyond the sowing of a variety of crops. (Diversification of crops as a tool for subsistence safety has long been acknowledged.) “Relatively durable associations between particular landlords and tenants were fostered by longer lease terms (four years or more) and renewals, but village tenants seem to have managed to escape economic dependence by being simultaneously connected, through obligations of tenancy and credit, to as many different families as possible.” (Rowlandson 1999, p. 155). These relations might include sub-leasing lands. The system that emerges from these studies of Egyptian records mirrors that of 19th century agrarian-capitalist Egypt, that is a complex “defined by cash crops, irrigation, the formation of large properties, and the concentration of workers in dispersed settlements controlled by the estates.” (Banaji 1999, p. 212). What the evidence also shows is clear planning and regulation. Wage and other labor was carefully supervised, and a complex system of wage accounting existed (Banaji 1999, pp. 209-211). In sum, the evidence shows that the Late Antique Egyptian economy was complex, rational, sophisticated, and deeply influenced by conscious policies formed by the ruling elites. If this is the case in Egypt, then it behooves us to consider Achaia in light of bureaucratic intentionality rather than reactivity.

Most of the articles agree that the basic unit of settlement was the village in clear hierarchies of size and importance (Bowman & Rogan 1999, p. 21), while everyone concurs that local identities were strong (p. 22). However, it was the strength of political control by the center of the peripheral areas that varied and played a key role in the creation and maintenance of the agricultural economy (p. 22). Significantly, as I also will argue, the minimalist views of the ancient state-controlled economy2 have been found to be erroneous (Banaji 1999, p. 194, and 2002).3 Banaji argues that rapid cultural and economic change occurred in the late antique era and that the period was vital and energetic. The period from the 5th-7th centuries saw the greatest development of private landownership in north Africa prior to the 19th century. Older models fail to capture the sophistication of the era and are inaccurate in their portrayals of the agrarian economy (Banaji 1999, p. 194). Now we know that more labor was absorbed into

Brief history of Achaia Some aspects of the history of the province of Achaia are fairly well known. In the mid-second century BCE, the Romans arrived in the eastern Mediterranean region, and over the next several hundred years gained reasonably complete control. The Romans took over a wealthy and prosperous world, which included Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor and Greece, and their famous ancient cities. The conquerors used the existing city structures and elites to administer their new possessions. These cities, with their surrounding territories, were grouped into provinces and supervised by a provincial governor. Often, the governor’s approval was needed for major building


Of course since inundation was the most “important fundamental continuity.” (Bowman and Rogan 1999, p. 2), there are real differences in experience among Greek and Egyptian agriculturists. 2 The instruments of state control in Egypt and elsewhere included “control of information, the nature of the bureaucracy and its officers, fiscal policy, regulation of water supply, patterns of land-tenure and exploitation.” (Bowman and Rogan 1999, p. 23). 3 Goffart 1974, Caput and Colonate exemplifies this view, see p. 76.


projects and repair work and his decisions were important in judicial matters.1

Under the later emperors, the boundaries of the empire’s administrative districts were redrawn several times. Diocletian expanded the number of Severan provinces by creating smaller provinces for easier administration. There were forty-five districts in CE 117, but 108 by the end of the fourth century. Diocletian methodically divided the empire into clear eastern and western sections, and then into four prefectures. Of interest to us are the prefecture of the East (Orientis), which included Asia Minor, Thrace and the Aegean Islands (the Insulae), and the prefecture of Illyricum, with its capital in Thessalonika, which usually included Greece (i.e., Epirus, Thessaly and Achaia) and the central Balkans.

In the third century of our era, the Empire was faced with fiscal and political crises. Inflation worked to wreak havoc on urban financial structures. The content of silver coinage (the denarius) had become debased, while simultaneously imperial mints were producing growing quantities of money in an attempt to keep up with fiscal demands. The situation grew particularly painful for cities and their elite, the curiales or bouleutai, who had drawn their revenues from civic lands, from taxes, and from local dues and tolls. Those leaders with access to goods rather than money were able to increase prices and rents, but they became hard pressed if they depended upon debased and devalued revenues. Thus, the curiales began to feel unable to meet their administrative duties.2

The province of Achaia (with its capital at Corinth), usually located in the prefecture of Illyricum, experienced a slow — but eventually permanent — incorporation into the administrative structures of the East. Much of the imperial juggling experienced by Achaia happened throughout the fourth century. For example, placed Achaia into the diocese of Moesia, but Constantine moved the province under the jurisdiction of Macedonia in Illyricum. In CE 343/4 there is the suggestion that Achaia again was in a western orbit.3 But in the mid-fourth century, the Theodosian code (6.4.2 [357]) indicates that Achaia had found a legal home in the eastern sphere. With the exception of some temporary administrative changes used to buy peace with the Goths4, by 378/9 the entire prefecture of Illyricum was settled under the jurisdiction of Constantinople and was to remain in the eastern sphere.5

Contemporary with the growing court life at Constantinople, a new political focus emerged. There was eventually a permanent division between east and west, sometimes dated to the last western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus (CE 475-476). Moreover, the emperors increasingly interfered in city finances, for example, through confiscation of civic lands. Although the codes of Theodosius II and Justinian (published in the fifth and sixth centuries respectively) suggest that the city elite enjoyed a slightly less favorable financial environment, the founding of the new capital of Constantinople offset these disadvantages with the creation of new posts and roles suitable for the eastern provincial aristocrats. The fourth century emperors also became more involved in the administration of the provinces.

On several occasions, the governance of the province had been redefined. The province was of proconsular status (i.e., under the control of the Senate) in its earliest manifestation, but was officially turned over to the emperor in CE 15 (Tacitus Ann. 1.76). After CE 44, “proconsul” and “praeses” are both used to describe the officials in charge of Achaia. Achaia was formally made proconsular again in either Diocletian’s or, more likely, Constantine’s reign, after which the governors of Achaia are only known as proconsuls or consuls until they disappear from the record in the fifth century. The last positively known proconsul was Hesychius in 435, though


Cities play an important role in the governance of the Empire. There have, therefore, been many studies devoted to cities generally, as well as to specific cities within the Empire. On the role of the city in the ancient world see, e.g., Rich and WallaceHadrill (eds.) 1991. Late Roman cities are considered by, e.g., Whittow 1990; Jones 1940, 1964, 1971; Claude 1969; Braund (ed.) 1988; Patlagean 1977; Hammond 1972; and Grimal 1983 (trans. of 1954 edition); Levick 1987 (Greek cities in the Roman period). For the relationship between urban centers and the economy see, e.g., Finley 1977; Abrams and Wrigley (eds.) 1978; and Hohlfelder (ed.) 1982. For the way in which towns were organized see, e.g., Duncan-Jones 1964. For municipal administration and documents see Abbott and Johnson 1968. Recently, scholars have been interested in seeing how archaeological regional studies can elucidate the formation and development of cities. See the work of Alcock 1988, 1991; Bintliff (ed.) 1984; Bintliff and Snodgrass 1988a; Snodgrass and Bintliff 1991. 2 On the decline of the urban aristocracy during the Roman Empire, see Garnsey 1974. With respect to coinage and inflation, consult, e.g., Crawford 1975; and Corbier 1989, who, unlike many observers argues that the Roman economy was basically sound. Kent and Painter (eds.) 1977, discuss wealth in the Roman world and provide an outline of the kinds and distribution of coinage and the monetary system generally in the Roman world. See King (ed.) 1980 on issues of revenue and the economy, as well as for a consideration of the relationship between inflation and monetary policy. Jones 1964 gives a good general account of the role of the curiales and their specific municipal and administrative functions.


Notice that in Consiliar List of Serdicia (Table I), Achaia is included among the western ‘anti-arian’ sees, but this is the only source that I know of that suggests that Achaia was in the west at this time. No historian or other document suggests that Achaia was associated with the western empire. 4 The growing involvement of the central government in the direct administration of the provinces had not prevented some Germanic incursions. Several bands made their way into Achaia. In 268270, the Herules attacked Lemnos, Skyros, Attica and parts of the Peloponnese. The Balkan campaigns under Alaric (395-405) were also destructive to Achaian possessions. On the Goths see Wolfram 1988. Ancient references to Germanic invasions include: Zon. 12.26; Jer. Chronikon, Oly. 260; Jord. Getica 20.108.7; Zos. 1.39.1; Amm. 31.6f; Proc. HW 4.1.6-7, 4.2.2f, 2.4.2. 5 Corinth is referred to as the capital of Achaia in the Synekdemos. Achaia is in Illyricum and the east in both the Notitia Dignitatum and the Synekdemos. On the administrative transfer of the province from one place to another, see Hoffmann 1969-70.


Figure 1: Greek provinces according to the Notitia Dignitatum (ca. CE 413-426) and the Synekdemos (ca. CE 528). there is a possibility that a Diogenes held the position in the late fifth century.1

units. Figure 1 provides an outline of the boundaries of Thessaly, Old Epirus, Achaia, and the Insulae.

By the fifth century, then, Achaia was associated with the government centered in the East. Its boundaries were fairly stable and included the Peloponnese, Attica, Boiotia, Phokis, Aetolia, Euboea, and some of the islands of the Aegean traditionally held or exploited by the Greek mainland (e.g., Aigina, Salamis, Keos, Delos. See Appendix A for a complete list of the cities and islands in the province as of ca. CE 528). The other Greek islands, those in the eastern Aegean and most of the Cycladic islands, were included in the province of the Insulae, which was under the jurisdiction of the proconsul of Asia. The Synekdemos of Hierocles (sixth century) confirms these divisions.2 Northern Greece included the Epiriote, Thessalian and Macedonian provinces. Crete was also a separate province.3 These provincial divisions separated what we think of as “Greece” into several administrative

There are several major sources for the provincial boundaries established by the Roman Empire. For my purposes, the information from the Notitia Dignitatum and the work of Hierocles (Synekdemos) remain the most valuable, because they apply to most of the Late Roman period, and it is generally agreed that their use as provincial lists is fairly dependable.4 Table I outlines the Notitia and other main official sources for the borders of Achaia, and its close neighbor the Insulae, throughout the Late Roman era. While Achaia was more or less safely anchored in the eastern sphere, the West was experiencing profound changes and was eventually divided among Germanic tribes. Roman imperial domination was effectively destroyed by the fifth century, though Justinian would regain control of Italy temporarily. Justinian also had attempted to strengthen defensible areas of his empire, including regions in Greece. Nevertheless, he was unable to prevent Slavic incursions into the Balkans late in the sixth century, which seem to have had profound effects on


For references to individual Achaian proconsuls and praeses see e.g., Frantz 1988, pp. 16, 79; Jones 1964, pp. 106-107; IG II2, 5199, 3689, 3690; IV, 209; SIG 3 877; Himerius Or 14 (48); HA , Deified Claudius, 16.1; The Two Gallieni, 2.1-3; on the last proconsul see Frantz 1988, pp. 78-79; IG VII, 26. 2 Justinian rearranged the jurisdiction of some provinces later in his reign (John Lydus de Magistratibus 2.29.1). Cyprus, Caria and the Ionian islands were placed under the jurisdiction of the Prefect of Scythia. Justinian II, in the seventh century, also restructured the provinces into the Theme system, first mentioned by Theophanes (AM 6187 = CE 695-696). 3 Sometimes it was a province with Cyrenaica, and sometimes not. The data emerging from regional studies of Crete appear to show a pattern of rural land use different from Achaia during the Roman periods. See Watrous, forthcoming (in Hesperia).


On the Notitia as well as the somewhat earlier and interesting provincial document, the Verona List, see Bury 1920, 1923; Chastagnol 1982; Goodburn and Bartholomew 1976; Simpson 1988; Jones 1964, appendix 2 is still valuable; Gregory 1979b. There is no reason to doubt the veracity of these texts with respect to their usefulness as sources for provincial divisions. On the Synekdemos, Honigmann 1939 provides a good introduction to the sources and reliability of Hierocles. There are some problems in Hierocles’ identifications. These are highlighted in Appendix A, but they do not affect this analysis.


the demography and settlement of the Balkan peninsula following the Late Roman period.1

and Messenia (UMME and PRAP). The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project survey area is within the boundaries of the UMME project. Figure 2 locates regional projects in the province.2

Table 1.1 Selection Of Official Sources For Provincial Status

There is also limited evidence for the Nemea Valley (NVAP), Phokis, Lokris, Aetolia, Megalopolis, Laconia, the Skourta Plain, Attica, several areas around Corinth, and for Southern Euboea (SEEP and Karystos Survey), as well as surveys from Italy and the Insulae, upon which I will draw, as appropriate. These projects have surveyed in virtually all parts of the Achaian landscape. Given that a variety of environmental zones have been studied, general socio-economic changes should be readily distinguishable from land-use patterns dictated primarily by the environment. Literary evidence in the form of inscriptions, law codes and various historical chronicles is also widely available. The main lines of Greco-Roman political and military history are also relatively well understood in the Eastern Empire.

Laterculus Veronensis (Verona List); CE 303-324 Achaia is missing from this list (presumably an accident) Insulae under jurisdiction of Asia Index patrum Nicaeorum restitutus (Nicene subscriptions); CE 325 Bishops of Achaia listed under the “European provinces” Bishops of the Insulae under control of Asian diocese Conciliar List of Serdicia; CE 343/4 Bishops of Achaia are associated with the West Bishops of the Insulae Cycladon are associated with the East

In the following chapters I will reconsider the ancient literary sources and then summarize the archaeological data from regional surveys, while also considering ancient agricultural practices and the relationship of public policy to settlement location. Then, I offer an explanation that will taking into account both the evidence of the texts and the archaeological material discovered in these regional surveys.

Laterculus Polemii Silvii (List of Polemius Silvius) Achaia is in Illyricum (East) Insulae Cycladon under jurisdiction of Asia Notitia Dignitatum in partibus Orientis; CE 413-426 Achaia is in the Macedonian diocese, and the Illyricum prefecture Insulae Cycladon under the jurisdiction of Asia Synekdemos; ca. CE 528 Achaia, in the East, Illyricum Insulae, in the East, Asia

Achaia as a case study to illustrate the effects of public policy


Publication of the regional surveys include, e.g., Cherry, Davis and Mantzourani 1992 (Keos, see chapters 17 and 18 for the Late Roman data and interpretation); Wright et al. 1991 and Cherry, Davis, Demitrack et al. 1988 (the Nemea valley); Renfrew and Wagstaff 1982 (Melos); Jameson, Runnels and van Andel 1994 (see chapter 6 for analysis of Late Roman data in the Argolid); with van Andel, Runnels and Pope 1986; van Andel and Runnels 1987; Runnels and van Andel 1987; Bintliff and Snodgrass discuss the history of survey as well as their own work, see Bintliff 1987 and Bintliff and Snodgrass 1985, 1988 (Boeotia); Roy, Lloyd and Owens 1989 (Megalopolis); Keller and Wallace 1986, 1987, 1988 and Kosso, 1989 (Euboea); Munn and Zimmerman-Munn 1985, 1988 (Panakton). For recent use of regional studies in historical reconstruction, see e.g., Alcock 1989a. Concerning work in Italy see Barker and Lloyd 1991 and Foxhall 1990a. Both include extensive bibliographies. For regional studies in Spain see e.g., Keay 1984; For Northern Africa see the work of Leveau 1975, 1977, 1978, 1982a,b, 1984 and Kehoe 1988. Recently communications network analysis has been done for the Roman period in Achaia. The study used a combination of Graph Theory and the textual evidence from the Peutinger Table (for Greece) to predict cities and regions of greater or lesser importance in the socio-economic hierarchy (Sanders and Whitbread 1990, pp. 333-355). The Corinthia and the Argolid (including the corridor that runs through Nemea) are, for example, indicated as particularly important.

Achaia was an integral part of the Roman imperial world from the second century BCE and had long been incorporated into imperial political and legal systems. Achaia has been studied by classical archaeologists through excavation and more recently by survey and regional studies. Projects in various geographical areas are newly published, or nearing publication, and offer a wide range of evidence to consider, including previously unpublished material from southern Euboea (see chap. 3 below). This wealth of evidence makes Achaia an ideal regional test case. The regional archaeological projects in Achaia, from which evidence is readily available and complete, include Keos, Boiotia, the Argolid, several neighboring regions (e.g., Methana) in the Peloponnese, 1

For Justinian and his building projects, see e.g., Mitchell 1987; Lloyd 1942; MacMullen 1959; and, of course, Procopius’ On Buildings. On Justinian’s reign generally, see Barker 1966 and Downey 1968. There is a vast literature on the Slaves in Greece. Two authors provide especially good introductions to the issues. See Charanis 1946, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953a, 1953b, 1955b, 1966, 1970a, 1972; and Lemerle 1954, 1963, 1980. Also useful are Lipsic 1951; Metcalf 1962a, 1962b; and Vasmer 1941.


Figure 2: A selection of regional studies in Achaia.


CHAPTER TWO IMPERIAL POLICIES: EVIDENCE FROM LITERARY SOURCES Land was the basis of economic and social life for citizens of the Roman world. Ancient sources like Claudianus sometimes tell us that this dependence on the land could be a precarious way to live; “[a]ll the land between the stormy Black Sea, and the Adriatic, lies waste without cattle and inhabited by no coloni, just like gasping Libya, always parched by the sun, it never knows cultivation by human hand” (Claudianus, In Rufinum 2. 38-42).1 With the vast majority of the population dependent on the land for their sustenance, life, if it was as Claudianus claimed, would have been harsh — the rich needed productive land for prestige, capital investments, and financial support, and the poor needed land for subsistence. Elite status was judged in part by one’s relationship to the land. The state’s fiscal system relied on production from the land to support the army, imperial building projects and the urban plebeians, among other things. Because of the crucial role that land and agriculture plays in the ancient economy, one might expect an abundance of literary evidence on the state of agriculture throughout the empire. However, ancient documentary evidence tends to record the details of invasions, foreign relations, and wars, instead of the more mundane matters of daily life and land use. As a result, literary rhetoric emphasizes only select aspects of rural life in the Late Roman world and has obscured evidence for agricultural production, as well as for socio-economic conditions.

monuments and artwork, while several basic genres emerged: rhetorical (artistically shaped, e.g., Cicero, Valerius Maximus), tragic (intended to present events graphically, e.g. Livy, Curtius Rufus), pragmatic (investigation of “facts” and their causes, e.g., Polybius, and, to a degree, Tacitus and Ammianus Marcellinus). Most historians came from the urban upper class, but no professional historians existed in our modern sense of those specially trained to do history. Rather, they came from a variety of professions including politics, the military, philosophy, and teaching of rhetoric (Rebenich 1997, pp. 279, 287- 289; Potter 1999, pp. 2-3). People with access to wealth and power helped shape the literary tradition that is preserved today. The ideal Roman historian was rich and urban; the ideal Roman audience, educated and able to appreciate good prose. Frequently, “[n]arrative history was thus the discourse of the rich and the powerful … and … narrative Roman history was also created and controlled by the elites” (Potter 1999, pp. 1523). Nevertheless, the creation of the Roman Empire demanded a new kind of historical writing that could appeal directly to the elites, and indirectly to the masses of newly integrated citizens (what was created was a kind of world and universal history — but from a Roman perspective — and a new more formal style modeled on old Attic forms of prose). The middle period of empire saw growth in popularity of horography and ethnography, accompanied by continued interest in biography, philosophy, and military writing. Explanations for the “rise” and later “decay” of Rome figure heavily in these works and therefore in the textual sources used. For example, Appian uses a well-conceived arrangement of material because he sees that the factors leading to Rome’s rise are made clear through “the choice and ordering of events” (Rebenich 1997, pp. 298, 290- 297, 312).

Characteristics of Late Antique rhetoric Late antique rhetoric had its own social and cultural standards. In fact, agricultural similes loom large in the discourse of the later Roman Empire, giving us clues about attitudes toward nature and culture. “[R]epresentations of rusticity … are created within a network of larger cultural negotiations, for talking about nature is inevitably a way of talking about culture.” (Conners 1997, p. 88). Agricultural similes drive particular points home. There are many of these: The mind as a “field,” and “the mind must be cultivated” to produce fruits. Unartful language is “uncultivated,” “dry,” or “thorny.” Young minds should not be “vacant.” Students must be supported, as are young vines. Irrelevant or trivial arguments are compared to weeds. A pleasing style is compared to flowers (pp. 76 84).

To the end of the Roman Empire, historians followed earlier classicist rhetorical traditions (e.g. Zosimus, Olympidorus and Herennius Dexippus). Through their rhetorical training, late antique historians could use “a rich reservoir of stereotypes, clichés, examples, paradoxes and other elements of style ad composition” (Rebenich 1997, p. 303). In fact, many passages and phrases may have been taken directly from rhetorical handbooks (pp. 302-3). Nearly all historians of late antiquity show the stylistic influence, direct or indirect, of the Greek historians Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, but must be linked with the Roman propensity for writing annales (e.g., the res gestae), moralizing, and the “propagandistic glorification” of family and state (Rebenich 1997, pp. 308 310, 316-7;). Hence, Roman historians could be fond of “moral reflections, aphorisms, and extended comparisons of personalities” (Rebenich 1997, p. 317). Still, the era of late antiquity lacked stylistic uniformity, especially among the Christian authors, some writing with more and some

Just as the period saw many political and economic transformations, cultural, change can be traced in the documentary evidence. In general, scientific chronology became more important, as did local histories with an interest in sharing legal, cultural and religious traditions, 1

Omnis quae mobile Ponti/ aequor, et Hadriacas tellus interjacet undas/ squalet inops pecudum, nullis habitata colonis/ instar anhelantis Libyae, quae torrida semper/ solibus, humano nescit manuescere cultu. Ca. CE 395-404.


with less literary adornment (Rebenich 1997, pp. 303, 323; Satterthwaite 1997, p. 690; Cape 1997, p. 216; Clarke 1996, p. 140). Other literate people opted out of the traditional ideal, including Christian writers, orators, oracles and independent associations. These sources provide checks and balances and access to a wider variety of voices. (Potter 1999, pp. 154-5)

The formulaic discourse, found in the historical texts and chronicles, certainly has had a profound effect on modern descriptions of Roman Achaia.3 Descriptions of the land, cities, and peasants were used by many writers for rhetorical purposes, sometimes merely to express opinions about particular leaders. For example, bad leaders emptied the cities and caused the desolation of the countryside. Good leaders built beautiful and beneficial public structures, and caused the land to provide an abundance of goods that enabled the citizens to live in comfort and prosperity. Procopius relates this explicitly (HW 2.3.6-7), arguing that the greatest cruelty of a ruler towards his subjects is to plunder their property without cause and to inflict upon them high taxes. In his view, taxes are tantamount to robbery (3.3.7). Procopius’ descriptions, and similar ones, are especially useful tools for expressing ideologies and opinions about the imperial government. On the other hand, despite variations in quality, the assorted literary sources for the fourth-seventh centuries (see Appendix A) provide fairly complete chronological coverage.4 Although the Late Roman historians and chroniclers tended to be diverse in character, aims, and religion, each offers some unique data or point of view that can be used to illustrate Imperial domestic policies.

The Church Fathers clearly show extensive knowledge of classical rhetoric, but they were not wedded to its conventions in the way of earlier authors; they formulated their own views about orators and rhetoric. An important aim was to convey religious truths, vividly yet clearly (these truths were based on the bible),1 in order to defend the faith and exhort others to a godly way of life. Thus wisdom was considered more laudatory than a smooth or eloquent style, despite similar goals (Satterthwaite 1997, pp. 671 - 91; Clarke 1996, p. 140; Rebenich 1997, pp. 3067, n.199 and 200). The study of classical rhetoric, coupled with dependence on a holy book, formed an entirely different structural and stylistic nature, and created a tension in the writings of the Church fathers (Satterthwaite 1997, p. 687; Mohrman 1961, pp. 255-256)2. These authors retained the interest in careful deployment of structure and argument. Clarity of structure and argument can be seen in e.g., Tertullian, Cyprian and Lactantius, who generally tended to be deliberate and explicit. In addition, references to Classical writers occur frequently, both as material for the arguments and as literary flourish. Yet one no longer had to be polished, urbane or urban, sophisticated, or even particularly well educated in classical terms, to be an effective Christian rhetorician. Instead, one could be a rustic believer with the opportunity to convert others. In contrast, the notion prevailing in the late Republic and Empire was that to be rustic meant unpolished, thus “naturally” — or culturally — ineffective as an speaker or writer (Satterthwaite 1997, pp. 672 - 675; Conner 1997, pp. 76-77).

Historians and chroniclers are, in general, more likely to reveal underlying attitudes toward the authority of laws. Indeed, they often reveal a strain of pessimism, perhaps due to the inability of the government to control the invasions of foreigners. They also have a tendency to complain about the economic situation, especially taxation, while at the same time implying a complete acceptance of the form of the government under which they lived (Blockley 1981, pp. 91f).5 The literary sources are notorious for a particularly pessimistic treatment of agriculture. There are a number of works bemoaning the state of agriculture, addressing unfair taxation and the economy, for areas where economic prosperity is now known to have existed.6 Roman Law

The key point is that rhetoric was critical to collective communication for both the Greeks and the Romans well into late antiquity. It was used to master any encounter between an individual and others, whether face to face, in battle, or in court. This is true even for the inscriptional evidence we use, because inscriptions offer a particularly direct form of “contact with the original rhetoric of their particular forum” … and because the “cost and difficulty of creation inscriptions must capture the intended meaning quickly, with no wasted words.” Inscriptions are public, designed for display; they are addressed to anyone who can read, and are meant to extend the speech well into the future. (Judge 1997, pp. 807 - 808).

Of special interest to us are tax laws, property laws, and the like, which were implemented for relatively speedy and efficient revenue collection and problem solving. These laws suggest the concerns, needs, and policies of the Late Roman Empire.7 Law is particularly important as an 3

This fact is amply reflected in the interpretation of life in the Late Roman Greek countryside as presented by Jenkins and influenced by sources such as Claudianus. Jenkins picture is one of a poverty stricken, nearly deserted, yet in some areas heavily fortified, countryside. 4 Bibliographic data on these sources can be found in Appendix E. 5 A fourth century law (CTh 9.4.1 [393]) forbids statements that disparage the times one lives in (obtrectator temporum) as nearly treasonous. This law may have influenced historical and other forms of writing. 6 Whittaker 1976 pp. 137-138, see e.g., Libanius (Or. 2.32) and Theodoret (Ep. 43) in the fourth and fifth centuries complain about conditions in Syria. 7 The various laws can be found in several sources. The CJ was published from 529-564; Specifically CJ is the Digest 533; The


The main resource and the work most often cited was the Bible, though these references were usually combined with pagan/classical references. 2 See C. Mohrmann 1958, 1961, 1965, 1968. Études sur le latin des chrétiens, I, II, III, IV. Rome: Edizione de Storia e Litteratura.


institution because of its ability to reach into all aspects of civic and private life.1 It is also important because in Late Antiquity law was evolving as it became more entrenched in people’s lives. Roman law was collected and then catalogued in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth centuries (Mathisen 1997, p. 2). “Application of the law brought many kinds of intersections involving geography, social status, the economy, literary culture, ethnicity, gender and religion” (Mathisen 1997, p. 4). Imperial designs can be revealed. Through consideration of legal documents, one can highlight incentives and disincentives and the social context that supported specific behaviors.

20-21). Justinian’s code is clearly identifiable as a compilation of two forms of material: the law as a discipline (interpretation), and formal legislation upon which the interpretation is based. The legislative texts contained the proclamations of emperors, beginning in the third century (Matthews 2000, p. 11). In general, the emperors’ decisions, letters, and edicts had the force of law because his imperium was held through law. The emperor also formally made law. Emperors’ edicts, letters, and other writings were placed in public view, inscribed sometimes on wood, stone or bronze, linen sheets or painted tablets, and read aloud to the public, literate and illiterate alike (Matthews 2000, pp. 13 - 15 199).

Official documents, inscriptions, and law codes provide access to Imperial policies. Two sources of law are most important in this study. The Theodosian code, comprised of laws promulgated after CE 312, was published in CE 438 and was highly edited even in antiquity. Though quite an extensive work, many of the dates for individual pieces of legislation either are missing or confusing.2 The Theodosian code was a natural product of its sociopolitical environment. The code itself fits into an older juristic tradition, but it was also created at a time when interest in proclaiming unity in the Roman world was paramount (Matthews 2000, pp. 1-9). Fourth century sources such as Ammianus and the anonymous writer of De rebus bellicus indicate that disarray of laws created abuse and corruption. It is partly for this reason that the Emperor undertook the task of codifying (Matthews 2000, pp. 3 -19). Theodosius’ Code was a sequel to the codes of Gregorius and Hermogenianus, published under Diocletian. It contains more than 2,500 “constitutions” on a vast range of subjects. However, unlike the Code of Justinian, only the legislation — and not the interpretation — is found in surviving texts (Matthews 2000, p. 10).

No matter when the individual laws were first promulgated, by including them in the corpus, Justinian acknowledged their validity in the sixth century. Those laws that appear in the codes are particularly helpful as evidence of policy during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. Typically, the codes represent generalized policies and practices. However, they occasionally reflect solutions to quite specific localized problems. The codes and similar records make it clear that in the last centuries of the Roman Empire, methods of governmental control, land use requirements, incentives, and tax responsibilities underwent significant change from the earlier Roman era. The various historical and legal texts, when assembled, construct a generalized picture of socio-economic conditions in Late Roman Achaia. Evidence for Imperial agricultural policy from tax legislation There are several avenues of investigation well suited to both literary and archaeological evidence. Of interest in this respect is the evidence for land use, abandoned lands, the development of large estates and villas, and the health of Late Roman urban life, as well as the economic life of the Empire. Since public policy can promote or hinder certain kinds of land use and settlement patterns, I will argue in the following chapters that Late Roman public policy encouraged a greater degree of settlement on the land by small farmers. The legal codes provide one avenue for determining the more precise character of Imperial public policy, though the codes often do not clarify the specific problem the legislation was intended to solve. This is partly because of the imprecise legal language and the general form of the laws. The imprecision inherent in the codes is characteristic of Justinian’s legislation, as laws from the earlier imperial period were edited and combined with more contemporary legislation.3

The government was motivated to engage in this task in order to refine the concept of general law and simplify the process of government. The new codification was an attempt to improve communication between government and the governed (Harries & Wood 1993, pp. 6-8). Further, the code contributed to a comprehensive manual of law from Constantine to Theodosius, and was to be a “true guide to life, magisterium vitae, for future generations” (Matthews 2000, p. 10). Thus, codification clearly indicates an attempt to make the laws clear, accessible, and public. The Corpus Juris Civilis inspired by Justinian is also enormously important for understanding policy in the Eastern Empire. His legislation was intended to supplant earlier law (except, obviously, when he adopted the earlier laws) and it was successful in the east (Robinson 1997, pp.


See, for example, CJ 11.59.1 (380 - 444]. There is no hint of the circumstances leading to the creation of this law in which the taxes for ‘abandoned lands’ are to be divided among the estates and territories — albeit with three-year tax immunity. Inscriptions that indicate a desire to encourage cultivation do not prove that land was regularly abandoned. See the undated inscription from Thisbe, which encourages cultivation of lands in the urban territory, SIG3 884, with no explanation of why the urban land was not being cultivated.

Institutiones 533; the Novels by 564. Digest authors include Celsus, Salvius Julianus, Gaius, Pomponius, Papinian, Paul, Ulpian, Modestinus. These jurists date from the second century CE. Later jurists considered them to be among the best of the classical law writers. 1 See R. Mathisen 1997 for the relationship between Roman lay and Society in general. 2 Whenever possible, I have added the date or probable date to the legal reference.


The series of property and tax laws that have been used to support the position that agriculture in the Late Roman world was in crisis, also provide some evidence of a major policy of the Roman government: to encourage cultivation of the land in order to collect taxes from it. Some legislation offered tax breaks to new landowners. Other legislation required productive land to be combined with unproductive land, and tax exemptions or ownership rights were offered based on occupation of marginal lands or the improvement of uncultivated or abandoned lands.1 In most of these cases, only temporary tax breaks (a three-year respite from taxes was typical) were offered as incentive. In yet other laws, threats of the loss of good lands were used to coerce individuals into accepting, investing in, and working marginal lands. These threats were typically directed towards lands, of varying quality, owned by the fisc, and leased to individuals. In several instances, individuals who might otherwise have been unable to buy land, were offered full ownership rights (with their attendant tax duties) for the property that they improved. Typically, individuals would be encouraged to improve Imperial lands, especially those that had been in arrears for too long, or lands with absent owners or tenants. These laws are illustrative of the primary intention of the state, which was to gain revenue from the greatest amount of land possible. Whether the landholders owned or leased small, medium, or large estates, or held fertile or sterile tracts, these incentives applied.2 Systems of taxation, therefore, might be expected to have encouraged exploitation of the rural landscape (Hopkins 1980; Miklius & Shang 1971; Halvorsen 1991).3 The Romans themselves fully recognized the power of law and tax incentives to motivate desired behaviors (as opposed to preventing misbehavior).4

In the Classical and early Hellenistic Greek world, taxation was neither direct nor regular.5 The Classical period was characterized by an equilibrium between revenues and expenditures. Extraordinary needs, such as war, meant temporary fundraising measures (Finley 1973, p. 175). On a daily basis, the Greeks depended in large part on the wealthy to support building projects and civic needs, through liturgies and other social burdens. There was never a permanent land tax that would have weighed heavily on the citizen peasant (Wood 1988). Under the Roman government, the system changed dramatically.6 After Augustus created the province of Achaia (27 BCE), the Romans imposed a land and person (head) tax that was to be collected from farmers. Two specific taxes were recorded: the tributum soli (land tax) and the tributum capitis (a human and possibly animal tax of some sort).7 Taxes were collected primarily in money, though it is likely that taxes assessed in money could sometimes have been paid in kind (Brunt 1981, p. 161). At least some extraordinary taxes were collected in kind; clothing and grain are good examples (Neesen 1980, pp. 104-116; also IG v. 1. 1432, 1433). The rates, classification, and units of assessment tended to vary from province to province, in large part depending on the character of the administrative systems already in place (Jones 1974, p. 182). While there is little precise information on the levels of taxation in Achaia in any period, it seems, in general, that Greek provincials had a relatively low tax burden (Jones 1974, p. 178; Alcock 1989a, ch. 3). The fact that the province was largely free of a military presence strengthens the argument that the burden on the Greeks was relatively light. For example, Greeks would not have been as likely to be taxed in kind for the billeting of soldiers.


The laws provide for an owner’s return within a specified period of time, usually three years. In all cases, except fraud by the possessor, the returning owner had to make restitution to the cultivator. In the Institutiones (2.6.7 [533]), the jurist Gaius said that “if a person without violence takes possession of a place vacant by the absence or negligence of the owner, or by his having died without a successor” the person may pass it legally to his heirs who acquire rights through possession (i.e. they have to be on the land). [“ut si quis loci vacanti possessionem propter absentiam aut neglectiam domini, aut quia sine successore decesserit, sine vi nanciscatur...”]. Translation by Sanders. The right to legal possession is assured because the individuals were using and occupying the property. Other laws suggest that if possession occurred for thirty years (or forty for ecclesiastical property), there were no grounds whatsoever for restitution from other claimants (Nov. 117 [564]; CJ 7.39 [529-564]). 2 The laws where owners or tenants are urged to take the bad land with the good include: CTh 10.3.4 [384], 5.11.8 [365], 5.11.12 [392], [364-368] (=CJ 11.66.2, 11.62.4 [368], 5.14.30 [393].1-2 [386], [393], 5.14.34 [394] (=CJ 11.70.3), 11.14, 13.11.4, 9, 15 [364-8], 13.11.13 [412],CJ 11.59.3, 5, 6; 11.62.7 [380 - 444]. 3 A presumption of over-taxation has also sometimes been called upon to explain the ‘fall’ of the Roman empire, abandonment of agricultural land, altered trade patterns, and even the growth of Christianity. 4 See CTh 13.4.1 [334] where incentives are offered to promote the study of the liberal arts and NVal 15.1f [445] where a sales tax was implemented to control supply and demand. In CTh 10.19 the government lamented the fact that demand for marble

Individuals owed taxes to the city or municipality and the city was obligated to pay them to the imperial fisc. The tithes were set by imperial authorities, but typically were based on the declarations of individuals (professio, Goffart 1974, p. 100). The division of burdens, and collection, was left to the local authorities. In addition, provinces still had to collect funds for their local needs. In the later years of and other fine stone and minerals had outstripped supply. The emperor thus granted universal rights to quarry existing mines and marble sources, along with fining people who harbored individuals legally tied to the profession of mining (CTh 10.19.6 [369]). 5 For C and HL finances and taxation see e.g., Jones 1940; Wood 1988; Hammond and Walbank 1988; Alcock 1989a (with survey evidence); Gauthier 1985; Migeotte 1984. C.f., Athenian tribute demands in the fifth century and the demands of the Antigonids on Euboea and Thessaly in the Hellenistic era. These were regularly demanded. 6 On taxation in the ER period in general see, Jones 1974; Brunt 1981; Neesen 1980; Millar 1983; Goffart 1974, chapters 1 and 2; Hopkins 1980; Alcock 1989a. On the economy of Italy and the African provinces, Duncan-Jones 1982 (2nd ed.) is extremely useful. 7 Whether or not these were the principal taxes of the era is disputed. See e.g., for, Millar 1983; against, Goffart 1974.


standardized. Ulpian (Dig. 50.15.1, 4) describes the status of various colonies and provinces, as well as the rules for census taking (the first step toward taxation of land and persons). The basic form set up by Ulpian was still followed in the Byzantine era, and can be found on numerous cadasters (census records). The land to be taxed, he notes, must be recorded in the following way on the cadaster:

the Early Empire, a larger share of tax money was sent out of the province. Local surpluses were no longer a direct benefit to the taxpayers, and the cash that left the province could not be used for the immediate local needs of the populace. It is important to note, however, that there were some special exemptions and free cities in Early Roman Greece [Alcock 1989a, p. 39 with table 3.1], but these were relatively rare. Free cities, of course, benefited from the ability to keep their surpluses circulating in their own region.

“nomen fundi cuiusque: et in qua civitate et in quo pago sit: et quos duos vicinos proximos habeat. et aruum, quod in [intra?] decem annos proximos satum erit, quot iugerum sit: vinea quot vites habeat: olivae quot iugerum et quot arbores habeant: pratum quod intra decem annos proximos sectum erit, quot iugerum: pascua quot iugerum esse videantur: item silvae caeduae.”

Extra or additional burdens, such as levies for the building and maintenance of roads, inheritance taxes, customs dues, sales taxes, and the like, were added irregularly and varied within a province as well as among different provinces. Taxes were never progressive in either the Early or the Late Empire, though exemptions were sometimes offered to particular classes. There was financial support for poor and orphaned children, which helped to ameliorate inequities in the system.

“the name of each estate, the community, and the pagus in which it belongs, its nearest two neighbors: and how many jugera of land have been in grain for the last ten years, how many vines the vineyards have, how many jugera are olive-plantations and with how many trees, how many jugera have been used for hay for the last ten years, how many jugera of pasture there are, likewise wood for felling...”1

The fourth century was witness to a slow transformation of policy, law, and tax structure. The nature and collection of imperial resources were altered by the reforms of Diocletian and Constantine (e.g., Williams 1985; King 1980; Lemerle 1979; Goffart 1974), and these reforms and laws provide evidence for late imperial public policy. With the founding of Constantinople in CE 330, the eastern Roman world experienced a major adjustment in the tax-exporting areas to meet the needs of a newly developed center or “deficit area” (Teall 1959, pp. 91-93). The effect was a redirecting of both trade and taxes in money and kind. The Roman economy effectively had been split into two bureaucratic systems. Egypt, for example, became the essential supplier of grain to the new Imperial city and the eastern army. This split resulted in the withdrawal of an important source of grain from the west. Such a change would definitely have required readjustments in trade and tax collection systems.

The records, then, can be expected to provide information on both land tenure and land use. No Achaian cadasters are preserved from the fourth-seventh centuries, but various records do exist for a number of areas in the eastern empire, including some Greek islands (e.g., Lesbos and Thera). These cadasters recorded the owner of the property, its location, the amount of land available for assessment, and the number of persons and animals on the property. Sometimes, the land quality or a record of use could be added. Specifically, in one Lesbian fragment, olive orchards, vineyards, and arable lands are divided into two categories, according to their quality (I.G.xii, iii, 180). On Thera, there was a record of an estate recently split into several farms, among the heirs of Paregorius (I.G. xii, iii, 343). The property was assessed by the same categories: arable land, olives, and vineyards. On one of the farms, stock animals are recorded. A combination of the amount of land and the quality of the land determined these measures.2 That land was owned in fragmented parcels is one of the more obvious characteristics revealed by these documents. Individuals tended to own property in diverse areas of their tax region, and probably among different tax regions. Land (by quality), humans, both free and nonfree, and animals are listed, along with the closest village and the closest tax-collecting region. Buildings and other improvements are sometimes recorded.

Taxation assessments, rates, and terms in the Late Roman Empire took on new meanings and forms to meet new imperial needs. Changes occurred in tax collection, and perhaps the most important of these was a switch in emphasis, from taxes in money to taxes in kind. The codes reflect a desire to collect Late Roman taxes in kind, and the circulation of money has recently been shown to have dropped during the Late Empire in comparison with the Early imperial period (Hopkins 1980). More specifically, a Megarian inscription records a grain levy in CE 401/2 involving most Achaian cities, and evidence noted above for the imperial granaries at Corinth and Scarphia suggests that levying of Achaian grain was significant already in the fourth century (IG vii, 24). The ratio of contributions in cash and kind remains unclear, as does the precise date of the transformation, though it was likely complete in the fifth century.

A cadaster fragment found at Tralleis, from the late third or early fourth century, has the same form as described by Ulpian, and suggests the existence of a resident of the

The provinces had long been subject to different sets of rules and rights. Achaia, moreover, was fully brought into the tax system only with the abolition of free cities in the third century. Later, however, procedures became more


After the translation edited by Watson in the Mommsen edition. See Jones 1974 pp. 228-256 for an overview of such records in the Late Roman empire. He also discusses the Lesbos and Thera records.



agricultural population. In this document, there are forty well-preserved farm assessments. Of these, twenty-three, or 56%, include an assessment of humans and animals (three, or 7.5%, assess animals only — ζώων). Only fourteen (35%) are land assessments only (i.e., there was no indication of human habitation or livestock). Many of these properties were apparently larger estates. The larger farms do not appear to have resident human and/or animal help, perhaps relying on seasonal workers. Notably, however, the majority of the assessed farms had persons living on them, though not necessarily the owners themselves. The Tralleis cadaster, like others, does not indicate whether the assessed persons were possessors, owners, or tenants, though sometimes slaves were explicitly mentioned (e.g., assessment no. 34: δούλων καà ζώων).

agricultural population and equivalent to the iugatio by CE 430.3 New tax assessment systems ultimately resulted in a transformation in tax collection. In the Classical period, the tax was levied on the wealthy and was not directly associated with land. In the early Roman period, the tax assessment was based on land and on persons; therefore, this assessment had a greater effect on the economy of the peasant landholder. The peasant was more directly responsible for the payment of the levy. By the Late Roman period, taxes had moved to the land primarily, and both freeholders and tenants bore the burden of providing revenue for the state.4 That is, because the assessment was attached to the land, those living on the land were primarily responsible for payment of taxes, and obviously, production from the land. Rural slaves became tied to the land that they cultivated, and could only be sold when the land was sold (CJ 11.48.7 [371]). This practice guaranteed that agricultural production would be maintained, even under normal processes of alienation, such as sale or inheritance. The wealthy passed on costs in rents or otherwise avoided payment and protected their farmers or villages from payment of taxes. In response to these abuses, legislation was passed to prevent even a very wealthy landowner (of whatever high rank) from protecting himself, his villages, or farmers. A penalty of forty pounds of gold was levied on the wealthy person, for each farm he tried to protect, so that he would then abstain from “lawlessness” (CTh 11.24.2-6 [368, 370, 399, 399, 415]).

Over the fourth century, however, there was a slow decline in reliance on the municipalities for tax collection. In the early fourth century, the city system was still strong, but much less so in the later fourth century. Imperial collecting agencies took over for the municipalities.1 The change from the municipality collections to imperial collections, accompanied by the imperial desire to increase production for fiscal revenues, may have had the effect of lessening the dominance of local towns over their rural areas. Because the townships no longer collected taxes, municipal elites no longer had direct economic influence over the practices of independent local farmers for the purposes of revenue collection. This change allowed greater influence by the imperial government. By the late fourth century, there was a conflation of iugatio and capitatio in Imperial assessments of taxes.2 Iugatio was the measurement of cultivated land. Land was classified according to product: grain land, vine land, orchard, and pasture. From this classification, the iugum assessment was made. Capitatio first appeared in the 290’s, and meant the ‘tax liability.’ Capitatio was never a head or poll tax, but was a unit of assessment collected from the

Diocletian (CE 297) removed the urban plebeians from some important taxes, such as the assessment of capitatio, and his decision remained in force, except for a brief period under Gallienus (Segrè 1945, pp. 101-127; Goffart 1974, pp. 48-52).5 There is, therefore, no reason to reject Jones’ assessment that the agricultural population was responsible for at least 90% of the revenues for the empire (Jones 1964 1974; Goffart 1974, pp. 66-67). It remained true, nonetheless, that there was often little correlation in most cases between the location and scale of agricultural production and the requirements and location of the army, the main imperial expenditure.6


(CTh 11.7.12 [383], 11.22.1,2 [353, 385], 11.22.3 [387]; CJ 4.46.2 [337], 11.38.1, 10.43.1 are examples of imperial intervention in municipal tax collections 2 See Appendix C for tax terms. The main laws uniting capitatio and iugatio as units of assessment are: CTh 11.16.6 [346], 11.23.1 [361], 8.11.1 [364] [364], 11.7.11 [365], 7.6.3 [377], 8.10.8 [383], 15.3.5 [422], 7.4.1 [428], 11.20.6 [430]. But c.f., CJ 11.52.1 [529-564] which does at least suggest the existence of a head tax (“Per universam dioecesim Thraciarum sublato in perpetuum humanae capitationes censu iugatio tantum terrena solvatur”). In CJ 12.52.1 [529-564] (which replaces CTh 13.11.2 [386]) 4 women equal 2 1/2 men. CJ 11.55.1 [529 - 564] also portrays the caput as just a rough assessment and not a clear head tax. Salvian, de gub. Dei 5.42-42 in his description of the miseries of farmers in Gaul clearly does not believe that the capitatio is a head tax. Ceratí 1975 pp. 319-328, is convinced, however, that there was a head tax under the late Empire, though Goffart 1974 argues otherwise. The description offered here follows Goffart. For the definitions of tax terms during the reign of Diocletian see Segrè 1945 pp. 101-102f. Karayannopoulos 1958 and 1966, esp. p. 324 also discusses capitatio and iugatio, but tends to interpret early laws in light of late and takes no account of Jones’ work on the subject.


Its last known appearance in the texts was in CTh 11.20.6 [430]. Lactantius, de Mort. Persc. 23 was revolted by the idea of property declarations to be used for tax purposes. The Digest refers to both individual and communal liabilities (Dig. 7.1.7 [Ulpian]; 7.1.52 [Modestinus]; 33.2.32 [Scaevola]). 5 It looks as though CJ 11.43.1 [529 - 564] specifically exempts Macedon from the capitatio. 6 The large armies in Britain, on the other hand, took a disproportionate share of the local production (Finley 1973, p. 91). And thus rural, British peasants bore the brunt of military costs. 4


‘Tax breaks,’ legal protections and agriculture in Late Roman fiscal law

381]). A late fourth century law illustrates these motivations of the fisc:

In the ancient world, as now, tax exemptions were used to motivate behavior.1 Exemptions were offered to encourage cultivation of lands, whether abandoned, sterile, marginal, and/or simply unused.2 A variety of approaches were used to accomplish this (e.g., CJ 11.59(58) 2, 10.3.4 [384]).3 Imperial lands were offered on good terms, with tax and public service exemptions. For example, the government proposed that anyone willing to cultivate and make productive a fundus defectus belonging to the imperial domain, he could keep the land in perpetuity. Those who cultivated such land could leave it to legitimate heirs, just as though it were a private family property — as long as the fixed land tax was paid (CTh 5.14.30 (393); with 10.4.2 (365); NTh 26; CJ 11.64.1, 11.59.7 [380 444]). Veterans were given added incentives, such as free equipment, seed grain, and tax exemptions, to take over uncultivated lands — even if the owners were not only alive but known (CTh 7.20.3, 4, 8, 11 (347, 409, 409); c.f., CJ 11.50.1).

qui per impotentiam5 fundos opimos ac fertiles occuparunt, cum quaestuosis uberibusque pro rataportione suscipiant infecundos ex eadem substantia...quo eiusmodi aequalitate servata et ante dictae curiae vires possint in posterum respirare et fisci indemnitas custodiri. (CTh 13.11.9 [398] = CJ 11.59.10) If any person should seize by violence fertile and productive farms, he must accept barren ones along with the profitable and rich ones, in due proportion... Thus such an equality shall be maintained that the resources of the aforesaid municipal council will be able to recover in the future, and the fisc can be protected from any loss.6 (Emphasis in the translation is mine) Rarely in documentary evidence is intention so clearly stated: the fisc must not lose revenue, regardless of the circumstances (c.f., CTh 10.2.2 [398]).7

Uncultivated lands could be attached to cultivated lands, with or without the owner’s permission, and tax exemptions could be offered to sweeten the deal, or threats to motivate those still hesitant. In CTh 15.33 (393), for example, “wicked men” who — through “their own arrogance” — gain excessive wealth from good lands, yet refuse to improve inferior lands, must either pay a fine or “combine the poorer lands with the richer” (also see CTh 5.15.14, 15; 5.14.33, 34 (324 - 416); 6.2.24; CJ 11.59.3, 9 [380 - 444]). Tenants renting public, temple, or church lands were required to rent “less productive” lands at a lower, fixed, rate (CTh 10.3.4 [384]; CJ 11.59.6 [380 444]).

Some lands were never taxable.8 A law of CE 440, intended to be valid for all provinces, was obviously of great benefit, in particular, to Egyptian landowners, NTh 20.1. The law says that alluvial lands could not be taxed, because these lands “come and go.” The provision also states that a person industrious enough to reclaim swamp or pasture lands for cultivation should not suffer taxation on their fertile lands. The land would retain its status as marginal, despite improvements, but now at least a minimal tax would be paid. The intention was to encourage industriousness to benefit the fisc, and

If lands were left uncultivated by the legal owner, those lands could be lost. Owners had only a few years to reclaim the property if someone else had made it profitable, and reparations would have been required if the deadline was met. Otherwise, ownership passed to the new cultivator and possessor of the property (CTh 5.11.8 [365], 12; CJ 11.59.8 [380 - 444]).4 Lands with no legal owner were available, with exemptions and ownership privileges (CTh 6.2.24 [417], and see also 11.24.6 [415]; CJ 11.59.14 [380 - 444]). If left unclaimed, the land could be auctioned, ultimately doubly benefiting the fisc through the sale price and the taxes and/or rents (CTh 5.11.9 [365 -


Impotens has the meaning of weak and powerless, but it also means unbridled or headstrong, with violent, passionate, or excessive action (c.f., Hor. C. 1.37.10; Quint. 1.3.13). In CJ 11.59.10 [398], impotentiam is replaced by potentiam. 6 Translation by Pharr. The original law refers specifically to individuals in the Municipality of Hieropolis. 7 The fisc promoted easier collection of taxes through incentives or orders to buy, trade, or rent land in one’s own district, or better yet, near or next to one’s primary estate (CTh 5.14.30 [393], also see CTh 5.17.2 [386], 5.11.7-12 [365 - 381]; CJ 11.64.1, 11.59.7 [380 - 444]. Such a requirement indicates two things: 1) legislation was used to facilitate tax collection by forcing people to restrict the scope of their land-ownership habits, and 2) parcels were often split among different (tax) districts. The legislation, which often urges individuals to buy, return to and relinquish properties, indicates some fluidity in land ownership and tenure patterns. Similar legislation can be found in the Marcian Treatise and the Farmers Law (see Appendix D) The Farmers law permits imperial officers to consolidate dispersed lands into the tax role of a single village for solely tax purposes (Brand 1969, p. 56). 8 Taxes on the land were not the only way the Late Roman imperial fisc collected revenues. Industry, crafts, and businesses with port, harbor import and export taxes, taxes on the cities, debasement of coinage, superindictions, and other extra burdens provided revenue for the state. But the majority of fiscal revenue was derived from agricultural production, taxation of industry, and small businesses (see e.g., Zos. 2.38.1-2).


See e.g., CTh 16.2.1 [364], 2 [380], 15 [360 or 359]; 13.2.2 [397]; 13.4.1 [334]; NVal 15.1 [445]. 2 I am arguing here primarily that the policy was to encourage cultivation. Later, I will argue that this encouragement resulted in intensive use of the land. 3 CTh 15.14 [324 - 416] is only partially preserved, but suggests that revenue-producing farms (or fields) strengthen public security (the same as CJ 11.59.1 [380 - 444]. This perhaps indicates a conscious awareness of the relationship between public policy and land use. 4 The emperor would receive petitions to cultivate unused lands, see e.g., FIRA 12, 101 of Trajanic or later date, from Numidia.


ultimately increase the total land under cultivation, even if it meant at a less than maximum tax rate.

as the senatorial elite gained privileges. Curiales, the municipal governing class, were eventually forced to raise their taxes from a reduced tax base, which was detrimental to the curiales and the municipal system of tax collection and assessment. In sum, contemporary responses to taxation of any sort were negative and focussed on the corruption of the elite and their basic unfairness to the poorer landowners and weaker communities.

A policy encouraging cultivation should rationally be expected to offer some protections to the cultivators of the land, in order to keep them working in a relatively safe environment. Supervision of the tax-paying and taxcollecting populations by government is, in fact, quite clearly reflected in the codes, which often vividly portray the concerns and policies of the emperors and the government. Taxpayers clearly needed protection. Extortion by the provincial governors had begun well before the rule of the emperors, for which one need only look at the testimony of Livy (43.2) or Cicero’s Verrine Orations. Unscrupulous collectors could use force to get what was owed, or even more than what was owed. Wealthy landowners had an advantage over smaller landholders and subsistence farmers, because the elite had the means to protect themselves.

Ammianus and the anonymous writer of de Rebus Bellicis are somewhat more sophisticated and less moralistic in their evaluations of the economic difficulties facing the empire. Their basic thesis was that unfair and oppressive taxation could weaken the Empire’s ability to protect and provide for itself, but not that it necessarily had done so. Nevertheless, their complaints about taxation were generalized and focussed on “corruption” rather than a specific fault with the imperial policy of tax collection. Attacks were directed at the wealthy elite, and particularly on the Senatorial classes, because these were the people who avoided services and payments to the imperial fisc.

Attitudes toward the fisc in literary sources Such complaints were, however, understood and acknowledged by the government, and attempts were made to curtail abuses. Several kinds of legislation were implemented to control officials and to restrain the activities of the elite, as well as to encourage and protect small landholders and tenant farmers. The emperors even went so far as to pronounce a sentence of death when illegal activities were verified (CTh 11.8.1 [397]; CJ 10.20.1).5 The provincial governor was not, however, deprived of his right to collect legal back taxes and inflict reasonable penalties (CTh 1.5.11 [398]). Legislation attempted to restrain illegal, excessive, and “greedy” tax collection. These abuses had only added to the normal problems of the taxpayer and farmer, for “what opportunity afforded by the collection of taxes remains unexploited by the Extractors?” (Anon. 4.1; NVal 15).6 In addition, naturally, tax evasion was illegal (CTh 11.4.1, 11.24.2-6 [368, 370, 399, 399, 415]; NTh 15.2; CJ 4.47, 11.59.14 [380 - 444]).

Contemporary attitudes about Late Roman tax collection can be illustrated by a brief comparison of three writers: Ammianus, Salvian, and the anonymous writer of De Rebus Bellicis. Their main points are as follows. First, the upper classes and high officials were accused of having used power to steal from the lower classes. The prefectures were characterized as merely elite sources of ill-gotten gain. Thus, the bureaucratic system was declared corrupt. Worse, both civil and military officials had begun to work together, to their own benefit and the detriment of the lower class taxpayers.1 Second, taxes were considered a greater burden to the poor than to the wealthy. The rich were able to demand extra levies that the poor were forced to pay.2 Tax exemptions and remissions were generally a benefit to the rich, which was in part due to the resurgence of power held by the Senatorial classes. When the poor turned to the rich for protection, they could lose their land and sometimes their freedom.3 Therefore, tax policies unfairly stressed poorer members of society.

Early in the fourth century, provincials were given easier access to the emperor if they felt abused (CTh 1.5.1 [325]).

Ammianus, in particular, critically documents how ineffective and unfair he thought the elite bureaucrats were in their control of taxation.4 According to all three authors, land was removed from municipal control at the same time


The main body of tax legislation in the Theodosian Code is in books 10 and 11. Main laws restraining tax collectors are: 7.4.1 [428]2 (regarding illegal taxes), 10.1.5 [326], 10.1.17 [420], 10.4.1 [326?], 11.7.17 [408] (restraint is urged even in the case of genuinely delinquent taxes), 11.7.15 [400], 11.7.19 [412], 11.7.20 [412], 11.8.2 [400], 11.8.3 [324-325], 11.10.1 [369], 11.16.1 [318, 319], 11.16.3 [325], 11.16.4 [328], which also protects the work of the farmer. He could not be dragged from his farm to perform extra public services during harvest or other important farm work. Collectors could be punished by death for disobeying the law. Tax collectors, who had been considered permanent, and had the power to harass the provincials [in continuata vexandorum provinialium potestate, veluti concussionum dominatione], were subsequently to be changed every year or two. See laws 11.16.11 [365], 11.17.1 [367], 11.26.1 [369], 11.28.10 [415], 11.28.14 [423], 10.1.17 [420], NTh 21.1.4, 13.11.11 [406], 12.6.22 [386]. 6 Translation by Thompson.


Corruption: Sal. 4.4.21; Amm. 30.4. 1-2; Anon. 4.1; civil and military officials, Amm. 14.10.4. 2 Burdens on poor: Sal. 5.7.28; Anon. 2.2. Extra levies: Sal. 5.7.30; Amm. 16.5.15 where the prefect demands a superindiction; Anon. 4.1 on the greed of the governors and collectors. 3 Exemptions and remissions: Sal. 5.8.27-35; Amm. 16.5.15; CTh 11.16.10 [362]. Power of the Senate: Frank 1972 pp. 77-78; Amm. 27.7.2, 30. 5. 3-10. Patronage: Sal. 5.9.46; Anon. 2.2 possibly implies this; Libanius describes patronage in Syria in the late fourth century, during which time the relative merits of bribes and military force to gain control of others vie for greater popularity, Or 47.1-16. 4 For Ammianus’ view of ancient taxation see the detailed discussion in Frank 1972, esp. pp. 81-82 on issues raised here.


The Achaians took advantage of this law. In CE 409, they sent a delegation (CTh 11.7.18) to complain about collection procedures. Their mission was successful, resulting in the revocation of CTh 11.7.17 (408). In 423/424 the Achaians sent another delegation to Constantinople to argue that they could not pay more than one third the amount of their assessed tax (CTh 11.1.33; CJ 1.2.8, 10.16.12). The emperor agreed to accept the Achaian offer and their new arrangement was to be observed “for all future time.”1 The government made an effort to compensate destitute individuals who had endured losses from war and invasion.2 There were protections against enslavement for destitute citizens who had to flee their homes because of invaders (CTh 10.10.25 [408]).

made efforts to protect small landholders from excessive financial burdens, limiting the interest that could be charged to this class by either money or grain lenders (Nov. 32, 33, 34 [535]). In the Theodosian Code, small estates are explicitly protected from informers (people who falsely claim that a property was abandoned, in order to benefit from it; CTh 10.10.29 [421]). In other legislation, small landholders get special exemptions from compulsory duties, and may pay their taxes in kind (CTh 11.1.14 (366, 372, 374, 371)). There are also instances when land was made available specifically to poor and middle classes (e.g., CTh 2.4.6 [193], which made imperial lands in Italy available with a ten year tax remittance and security of tenure).

The Emperor Julian was eager to minimize extraordinary burdens in general (Amm. 17.3.2-4), and in particular with respect to back taxes, especially on imperial properties with emphyteutic leases.3 The Emperor forbade the collection of such delinquent taxes without his express knowledge and consent.4 His move was an attempt to restrain the excessive control held by the prefects.5 Julian’s legislation was supported, reiterated, and codified by later emperors (CTh 11.6.1 [382]; CJ 10.18).

Evidence for forms of land tenure References to landholding by individuals of various classes, in addition to long recognized landholders such as the decurions, clergy, monasteries, and civic estates, should have cautioned students of the Roman world from painting too depressing a picture of cultivation in the east.7 Interest free loans to the poor: HA Sev. Alex. 21.1-3. Cassius Dio (52.28.3f) related the existence of a proposal by Maeceas to sell off imperial lands (not χρησίµα or Ðναγκαία) in order to set up a land bank. The interest was to be used to pay off the unexpected demands of soldiers. Modern interpreters consider this legislation protection for small and medium landowners (Whittaker 1976 pp. 139-141; Gabba 1962 pp. 49-56). 7 Landholding passages in the codes include the following. For example, see, CTh 1.11.1 [397]; [386]; 5.15.17-18 [364, 368]; 7.13.14 [397]; 10.3.1, 2 [378, 398]; 11.16.13 [383]; 11.16.20 [395]; 15.14.10 [395]; NTh 9; Dig. 19.2 (entire); esp. 19.2.9 (Ulpian); 19.2.10-15 (Julian, Ulpian, and Hermogenian); CJ 10.48.10, 15 [382]; 11.62.4 [368]. There are over 170 leases preserved for Egypt, from Diocletian to the Arab conquest. See, Johnson and West 1949, 80-93. Note the interesting law on Achaian lands CTh 10.8.5 [435]. The implication was that the fisc wanted these lands. Leases sometimes represent efforts at consolidation, thereby reflecting fragmentation of properties in the Late Roman period. At other times, attempts were made to diversify for economic reasons (e.g., Foxhall 1990b). Dispersed properties of the wealthy, large-estate owners were part of the ubiquitous Mediterranean process of fragmentation (e.g., the estates of Paulinus of Pella). Estates of decurions see e.g., CTh 5.2.1 [319], 12.18.1 [367], 12.18.2 [396], 12.3.1 [386], 12.3.2 [423], 10.24.3 [381]. Estates of monks and clergy see e.g. CTh 5.3.1 [434]. Estates of soldiers and veterans see e.g. CTh 5.6.1, 2, 3 [347, 409, 409], 7.20.3 [320], 7.20.11 [368/370]; CJ 11.60.3; though soldiers may not buy estates or lands in the provinces in which they serve: Dig 49.16.13, c.f., 49.17 and NTh 24.1.4 where borderlands can belong to a local militia without any tax burden. Rights of freedmen to own property was protected: Dig. 41.1.10 (Gaius); slaves could buy estates for themselves, but could only take possession after they are freed: Dig. 41.4.7 (Julian). For laws about estates of pupils bought by their tutors, see, Dig. (Paul). Estates might be owned by cities or other communities: Dig. 50.8 (entire), 42.5.37 (Papinian). Barbarians: CTh 7.15.1, 2 [409, 423]. Breadmakers, merchants, physicians, grammarians, and professors: NVal 34.1f [451] with 34.1.4. where some of these breadmakers’ estates were to be given up to people who had demonstrably lost their lands in the Vandal invasions; CTh 13.16, 13.1.21 [364, 418], 13.3.1 [321324] (=CJ 10.53.6). Ship captains and their guilds: CTh 13.6

Small landholders were specifically protected by legislation, through tax remissions, interest restraints on lenders, and other privileges.6 For example, Justinian 1

In this legislation, Macedon received a reduction in their taxes by half as well. And the Church of the City of Thessalonika was completely exempted. See also CTh 11.28.7, 12 [413, 418]; Nov 13 [445]. 2 Efforts were made periodically to compensate for losses after attacks by invaders (HA Prob. 13.8, 14.6; Pan. Lat. 5(8).6.1). CTh 13.5.6 [334] was concerned to alleviate the poverty of ship captains stricken by disasters. 3 That is, permanent and hereditary leases of land retained by the lessor upon condition of proper cultivation and payment of rent. These could be remitted and extraordinary burdens lifted (CTh 5.12.3 [434]; CJ 11.62.12 and CTh 11.16.1 (31, 319); CJ 11.65.2). 4 Eunapius reports (Prohaer. 493) that Julian had the land of the Hellenes surveyed to relieve them of oppressive taxes. Presumably, he means to refer to Greece in this context, but no other source for this story survives. 5 The prefects were military officers, sometimes governors of provinces, or overseers of administrative districts. Typically, they were chosen from among the senatorial or equite classes. 6 In support of smaller properties: CTh 11.24.5 [399], 4 [399] etc.; 11.1.14 [366, 372, 374, 371], and where great landlords are able to evade taxes. Rights of the tenant were carefully protected: CTh 10.3.3 [380], ? [326], 5.14.32, 33 [393], 5.15.15 [394], 5.15.20 [366] (=CJ 11.65.4), 7.7.1 [368, 366], 7.7.5 [415] (= CJ 11.61.3), 7.8.10, 12 9413, 414] (= CJ 12.40.5), [365], 5.13.4 [364-368] (= CJ 11.66. 2 [415], 11.62.4 [368], (= CJ 11.62.13), 5.12.3 [434] (=CJ 11.62.12), 7.8.7 [400]; Dig 6.3.1, 19.2. esp. 9 and 15. (outlines rights and duties of lessee and lessor), (automatic extension of lease). NVal 1.3.1-2 provides a tax remission to those who owe only small debts to the fisc, presumably relatively small landholders. CTh 10.10.20 [392] (with associated legislation) protects all owners from unscrupulous ‘informers,’ who falsely claim that lands were deserted in order to obtain them for themselves or a client. CTh 10.19.7 [373] protects the mineral rights of lands, large and small.


The legal codes include frequent references to leasing practices, inheritance laws, land sales, ownership, and possession distinctions (dominatio vs. possessio or κατοχην), and laws that regulate rental rates1 for imperial and privately owned properties. All classes of landholders are represented.

not directed at resettlement for the purpose of renewed cultivation of abandoned or unused lands, indicates that the emperors were able to make large-scale changes in settlement and land use through policy decisions. In later times, people were relocated on even grander scales.5 In 578, Tiberius moved 10,000 Armenians to the island of Cyprus.6 Evagrios says about the transfer and the Armenians (447.19-26) that:

Ownership and cultivation of the land was the prerogative of many classes. Veterans owned lands given to them by the fisc or sometimes taken from others by force. Slaves bought lands and estates, often modest, upon which they planned to live when freed. Tutors controlled and sometimes purchased the properties of their students. Ship captains and their guilds held estates that contributed to their support. Groups of coloni bought imperial lands at special rates (CTh [425]). Freedmen had estates of their own, and could buy and sell the lands of their former owners and patrons. Breadmakers controlled extensive tracts of land, especially in Africa. Merchants, physicians, grammarians, and professors were known to have owned their own estates. “Barbarians” were also officially granted lands to cultivate.

...Ðγρούς τε Ñρηµωθένας τ© χρόνz Ñξοικ±σαι τήν τε γ³ν Ñνεργον καταστήσασθαι πάντη πρώην Ðγεώργητον ο¹σαν στρατόπεδά τε Ñξ αÕτ´ν συστ±ναι πολύανδρα κατÀ τ´ν ðλλων Ñθν´ν µάλα γεννικ´ς τε καà Ðνδρείως Ðγωνισάµενα, πληρωθ±ναι δÁ καà πάσ\ ØστιZ τÀς οÓκετικάς χρείας, εÓς τÄ κουφότατον τ´ν Ðνδραπόδων Ñκποιουµένων. Thus land which previously had been deserted was restored to productivity everywhere. Numerous armies also were assembled from among them and the corps fought resolutely and bravely against the other nations. At the same time every household was filled with servants, because of the ease of procuring captives.

The codes reflect the existence of active landholding classes, with complicated needs for legal control over the transfer of property, tax duties, and the protection of individual and community rights. Laws that reflect imperial desperation to put lost lands back into cultivation, by no means dominate the legislation. To the contrary, they suggest an active and flourishing agricultural economy. The imperial government had other means to manipulate rural settlement patterns and land use. Among the more obvious methods of governmental intervention in settlement behavior are population transfers. There are accounts of people being moved to revitalize an impoverished region, or, for defensive purposes — such as the movements of whole villages by Justinian to safer areas (e.g., Proc. de Aed 4.1.39-42). Population transfers, thus, were used to keep peace, to enhance the military, and to cultivate uncultivated lands.2

Evagrios, thus, shows that there were both economic and military reasons for the movement of populations. Uncultivated lands were put under cultivation, and, at the same time, armies were raised. Afterwards, the Emperor Maurice (CE 582-602) planned an even more ambitious transfer of people, which was only partially carried out. He removed ‘all’ the Armenians from their homeland, and he demanded that 30,000 families be transferred to Thrace (Charanis 1961, pp. 141-142; 1959, pp. 28-32). This policy of moving large groups of people was continued throughout the period of the Byzantine Empire. The Venetians and Turks also used the policy, illustrated, for example, by the settlement of Albanians in Greece during the fifteenth century (e.g., Hasluck 1908-1090, pp. 223228; Bury 1888; Koder 1973, p. 38; Keller 1985, p. 65). Population transfers, therefore, could have promoted settlement on uncultivated or under-cultivated agricultural lands, though evidence of such a policy at work specifically in Late Roman Achaia is unavailable. Overall, what is clear from the legislation is that the Late Roman law codes suggest a close relationship between the use of the land and imperial interests. Analysis of these laws does not support a view that land lay abandoned to an unusual degree. Rather, they show that cultivation was strongly encouraged because the emperors were concerned to increase revenue.

The Emperor Valens, for instance, allowed some of the German tribes to take refuge from the advancing Huns inside the Roman Empire, giving them access to uncultivated lands. The emperors Marcian and Leo also settled barbarians in the uncultivated areas of Thrace and Illyricum (Jord.Get 265-267).3 The Emperor Justinian moved Vandals into Asia Minor. In addition to refortifying Greece,4 Justinian was said to have moved entire villages in Greece (and Achaia), in order to protect them from threats of invasions. The latter example, though (=CJ 11.3), 13.5.4f [334-371], c.f., CJ 11.2. 1 There are three kinds of payment: money, fixed payment in kind, and mixed rent of cash and kind. 2 A notable renewal of an urban area is the transfer of people to Constantinople by Constantine I after the city was turned into a major Imperial center, and the accompanying beautification by the monuments taken from the peripheral provincial states (Eunap. VS Sopater, 462). 3 Ammianus 31.3.4; and see Heather 1992. 4 On his building projects see e.g., Procopius, On Bldgs ; Daly 1942; Whitby 1985.


Movement of populations still unfortunately takes place in the Balkans. The former Yugoslavia, at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st, is the site of vast intentional refugee movements affecting all the Balkan states. 6 Charanis 1961, p. 141; see also Theophylact Simocatta, Historiae, de Boor ed. 1: 385.


reduce the burden on landowners.4 From the legislative evidence, we see that imperial policy encouraged cultivation. The government made land available to people from diverse classes through, for example, tax incentives and lease arrangements beneficial to the tenant. Land was sometimes simply given to those who served the empire, or to those who were willing to work it and make it produce revenue, however small. Imperial policy, therefore, promoted cultivation of the land by whatever means seemed most effective. The need for revenue from the land provoked the government to encourage access to the land by a broad spectrum of classes.

There is legislative evidence for the existence of diverse classes of landowners, from poorer independent farmers to large-scale landowners. The existence of a broad spectrum of classes involved in land ownership and cultivation suggests that agriculture was not dominated by the wealthy. If this is true, the situation in Late Roman Greece was very different from Greece in earlier Roman periods (c.f., esp. Alcock 1989a, b, 1990, 1993). The relative size of each landholding class is not available, nor can we discover precisely how much land was controlled by large estates, in Achaia or elsewhere. Attempts were made by the emperors to prevent oppression of taxpayers. Reforms were instituted by Diocletian and subsequent emperors, which in some cases accomplished the reduction of individual, local, and provincial taxes. The Achaians, for example, were allowed to determine their own assessments. Province-wide tax deductions and remissions, as well as benefits to poor citizens, provide further evidence that the imperial government attempted to prevent excessive hardship for its tax-paying citizens.1 Patronage was explicitly discouraged because it worked to enslave small landholders, and was used to evade taxes. The government, thus, restrained the wealthy and circumscribed their economic power.2 Officials were forbidden to abuse taxpayers, and were prevented from profiting by their official positions.3 Thus, small landholders were singled out for protection in legislation, through tax remissions, interest restraints on lenders, and other privileges.

Socio-economic conditions in the Eastern Empire: abandoned and deserted lands Other literary sources sometimes present a grim picture of peasant life, and a depressing vision of land use. We hear of devastation wrought by inflation, barbarian invasions, over-taxation, and other disasters that traditionally have been used as proof of nearly universal land abandonment, and a “decline” in agriculture.5 Roman authors frequently reported real events, but also used them quite effectively as rhetorical devices. The poverty and barrenness of rural areas was a theme used to great effect, because, typically, descriptions of rural poverty were associated with complaints about taxes and foreign invasions. A juxtaposition of domestic and foreign actions, and their assumed consequences, were intended to reflect poorly on the decisions and capabilities of an emperor.6 Clearly, ancient assertions of agricultural decline have influenced descriptions of the Roman world up to the present. The pessimistic outlook of ancient historians was only enhanced by a tendency to accept as truth the rhetorical flourishes of Christian writers, in particular. In their efforts to relate biblical truths, these writers “were committed to a theme of the Second Coming, which distorted their interpretation of disasters...” (Whittaker 1976, p.138). A peculiar characteristic of these sources is their tendency to refer to the poverty and despair of the peasant classes in quite general terms. They seem to suggest that there simply were no longer self-sufficient property owners, of whatever size.

There were also some attempts to increase revenue from non-agricultural sources, which would have worked to 1

See e.g., Libanius (Or. 18. 282) who said Julian intended to lower taxes; with Ammianus 17.3.1-3, Julian wanted to help landowners. More importantly see: Amm. 30.9.1, 31.14.2; Themistius Or 8.112-113; CJ 11.53.1 [371], on the abolition of the capitatio. Amm. 14.7.5 recognized the ability of the government to use law to solve even local problems. 2 CTh 5.14.30-33 [386 - 393] says the best lands should be mixed with inferior lands and rich men who do not comply with this rule are subject to a fine. Patronage was forbidden, because it is used to evade taxes, through the auspices of the powerful who could do such things (CTh 11.24.2 [368, 370]; Nov. 17.13; CJ 11.54.1 [468], and because it enslaved the less well off. Also CTh 11.24.1 [360, for Egypt only), CTh 11.24.2 [368, 370], 11.24.3 [395], 4 [esp. for tax fraud, 399] , 5 [399, refers to rich landowners protecting poorer from tax collectors, both would be punished]. CTh 11.1.27 [405] stated that rich persons had to pay a fine four times their debt for back taxes. The poor only had to pay their taxes and were not fined. Different collectors were used for different classes, which worked to squeeze the wealthy more effectively (CTh 11.7.12 [405]). Farmers were protected from interruption of seasonal work and when burdens were inflicted they were to be extracted from the rich first and then the poor (CTh 11.16.4 [328], CJ 11.48.1 [529 - 564]. 3 E.g., CTh 10.3.6 [401] and CJ 11.73.1, with CTh 7.4.12 [364?], 10.1.5 [326], 10.1.17 [420], 10.4.1 [313, 326], 11.7.17 [408], 11.7.15 [399, 400], 11.7.19 [412], 11.7.20 [412], 11.8.2 [400], 11.8.3 [324-325], 11.10.1 [369], 11.16.1 [318, 319], 11.16.3 [325], 11.16.4 [328] , 11.16.11 [365], 11.17.1 [367], 11.26.1 [369], 11.28.10 [415], 11.28.14 [423], 10.1.17 [420], NTh 21.1.4, 13.11.11 [406], 12.6.22 [386].

There are no details describing the experiences of individual farmers, or even regions, suffering from poverty. Lactantius wrote a denunciation of Diocletian in the early fourth century, claiming that the resources of the coloni had been exhausted, fields abandoned, and cultivated areas of the empire turned into a wilderness (de 4

CTh 10.19.3 [365], 10.19.5 [370], 10.19.6 [369], 10.19.7 [373], 10.19.9 [378]. 5 E.g., Jones 1964, p. 812f, but c.f., p. 823 where Antioch experienced an ‘advance’ in agriculture; Rostovtzeff 1957; Rees 1987; Bernardi 1970 pp. 16-83, esp. 44-52. 6 Eunapius, FCH 42 on the devastation of Thrace; FCH 48.3 unstable conditions due to the invasions; FCH 64.1 Alaric ravages and devastates Greece; and Vit. Soph. 7.3.4; Priscus, FCH 5 where the Rubi (=Rugi?) attack the Eastern Romans; Procopius, e.g., HW 2.4.2f; Ammianus 27.8.5.


mort. persec. 7).1 The Emperor Julian repeats the same theme. According to Ammianus (24.3.4-5), the recently enthroned Emperor described his world to his disgruntled soldiers in these terms:

consciousness of the educated elite in his era, and his work offered the emperors a plan for military reform. The Anonymous reformer argues that his plan would provide for the defense of the Empire, save money, and reduce the burden on the taxpayers (i.e., the landholding classes). He describes an Empire where the powerful were storing up gold and other riches, while the poorer classes were held down “by force,” intensifying class conflict. The oppressed peasant classes had to resort to crime, laying waste to fields, and acting in support of usurpers. The clear implication is that poor individuals were without homes, tenant or ‘serf’ status, or even jobs.5 These peasants added to the destruction caused by the invasions and migrations of foreign tribes into the empire. He claims that the greed of the provincial governors, who were in league with the tax collectors, had caused the utter exhaustion of the resources of the taxpayers and the disappearance of the farmer from the land.

Ex immensis opibus egentissima est - tandem credite Romana res publica, per eos qui (ut augerent divitias) docuerunt principes auro [quietam] a barbaris redemptare. Direptum aerarium est, urbis exinanitae, populatae provinciae... Please believe me, from infinite resources the Roman Empire now suffers the most extreme poverty through those men who (to increase their own wealth) have instructed princes to redeem peace with gold to the barbarians. The treasury has been pillaged, the cities emptied, and the provinces devastated. Julian, in attacking the Roman payments for peace to the Persians, was emphasizing Roman poverty, in part to soothe the soldiers’ indignation at being underpaid, in part to charge the powerful elite with mismanagement and corruption. He was resorting to a rhetorical topos to make his point: the treasury was pillaged, the cities emptied, and the provinces devastated by the opposition.2 The only way that the soldiers could obtain more money or goods would be at the expense of their fellow countrymen, already in serious need.3 Ammianus, an enthusiastic supporter of the Emperor Julian, was portraying him in the style of a good emperor, and used Julian to point out Constantius’ poor leadership qualities.

Anonymous, however, outlines options to reform the army, making it smaller, more efficient, and less costly. Reducing the size of the army, he thought, would add more taxpayers to support the fisc, and would put more people on the land to cultivate it. In his attempt to exhort the emperor to restore the life of rural lands, the poverty of the peasant classes (taxpayers) is contrasted with the tremendous wealth of the few. The taxpayers were overburdened, and, in fact, exhausted.6 According to the author, emperors, beginning with Constantine, were the cause of inflation because of their extravagant spending, which further aggravated the already desperate situation of the lower and middle classes. Thus, the state, as described by the writer, was completely exhausted by the poor policies of the government, which left property owners in despair and the empire poorly defended. Anonymous saw properly implemented policies as the way out of the military and economic crises suffered by the imperial citizens. Unfortunately, but like any good debater, he exaggerates for emphasis. Archaeological and other evidence now shows that many eastern cities were flourishing. The vast army was fed and clothed, and massive expenditures were maintained by agricultural production.

A less obviously sophistic version of the state of the State is offered by an anonymous Roman reformer and inventor of military weapons, sometime between CE 366 and 375.4 This author offers a more complex evaluation of affairs than is typical, describing problems and their solutions in economic and social rather than moral terms. His treatise provides important evidence of the economic 1

But c.f., 8.3 where he extols the richness of Africa and its lands. See the discussion of Lactantius in Whittaker 1976, p. 197 and T. Barnes 1972, JRS 63 pp. 29-46. 2 Ancient authors also include hyperbolic accounts of other events, such as plagues. Zosimus briefly described two different fourth century plagues (1.26, 1.37). Eusebius said that the human species was constantly diminishing and being consumed by plague during his lifetime (HE 7.21.10). Procopius said that plague annihilated nearly all humanity (HE 2.2.1f, CE 542). These are not clinical descriptions of the effects of disease on a single city, as Thucydides had done for the Athenian plague of the fifth century BCE. Particular regions or people are rarely singled out. The true effects of these events cannot be gauged from the kinds of statements preserved for us. 3 Ammianus had lamented plundering even by Roman soldiers, especially in Africa where he says the peasant classes were particularly abused (27.9.1, 29.5.12; c.f., 27.9.6 brigands like to harass towns and villas). 4 See Thompson 1952, Introduction, with comments by A. H. M. Jones, p. 39-40, text and translation, pp. 91-123; for an early, but still useful discussion see, with references up to 1911, R. Neher, 1911, Der Anonymous de Rebus Bellicis , PhD diss., Tübingen; and S. Reinach 1922, “Un homme d’idées au Bas-Empire”, Revue archéologique 16 pp. 205-265 (with text).

Based in part on Anonymous, some scholars have concluded that, even in the eastern provinces, agricultural land had suffered catastrophic “exhaustion of the soil,” and vast tracts of land had gone out of cultivation — as much as 1/6 of the land generally, and 1/3-1/2 in some areas of Africa. “That the area of land under cultivation shrunk cannot be doubted. Abandoned lands (agri deserti) are a constant theme of imperial legislation from before Diocletian’s time to that of Justinian” (Jones 1964, p. 812 and 816). The legislation used by Jones to support this conclusion deserves careful attention. One of the laws most frequently thought to reflect a ruined agricultural base, was promulgated by Honorius (CTh 11.28.13 [422]). 5

Seemingly, a large untapped labor pool and evidence against a labor shortage? 6 C.f., Theophanes, AM 6196 (ca. CE 704-705), where the property owners were afraid of ‘danger’ from the Empire itself.


“In 422 Honorius wrote off the deserted lands of the res privata in Africa Proconsularis and Byzacena ... [furthermore] more than half the land was deserted” (Jones 1964, p. 816). The passage actually says that 9,002 centuries of land and 141 jugera were declared in solvendo, and 5,700 centuries and 144 1/12 jugera were to be declared in removendo. Perhaps inevitably, this has been taken to reflect the status of ownership. However, this law does not necessarily imply that the land was deserted by its owners, nor for that matter that it was “exhausted.” The law clearly and simply states that the former (in solvendo) amount of land is subject to tax collection, and the latter (in removendo) is no longer to be so subject. The motives of Honorius are not clear, but it appears that the land of the entire province had been entered on the tax lists perhaps at the time of the creation of the province as Proconsular. Sometime later, the tax lists were revised to include only land that could rationally be expected to produce. There is no indication in the legislation that the lands removed had ever provided revenue for the state, nor any suggestion that the law was acknowledging a loss of revenue for the fisc. Whittaker (1976, p. 161) provides further evidence for rejecting this legislation as the basis for such a pessimistic view of African agriculture. He notes that the figures, which represent about 5/9 of the surface area of the provinces in question, is almost precisely the same as the land considered too marginal for cultivation in modern Tunisia. This land may never have been cultivated at all.

marginal, and not due to human activity. The remaining terms could equally well describe abandoned lands, lands for which there are no taxpayers, lands that had never been used before, marginal lands, or even lands without a water source. Table 2.1 Technical Terms Usually Translated As Abandoned Or Deserted deficio CTh 5.14.30 (393) (defectum, defecta); 13.11.4 (defectorum). Meaning: remove oneself, worn out (?). C.f., Dig. 7.1.12 ([Ulpian] where a man is worn out by old age “vel defectae senectutis homine”).

The legislative evidence from the Codex Theodosianus and the Codex Iustinianus includes several terms that have traditionally been used to support the position that deserted and uncultivated lands were common. Table 2.1 presents these terms, as well as the relevant passages that have been taken to indicate both exhaustion of the soil and desertion or abandonment by property owners.

infecundus CTh 13.11.9 (infecundos). Meaning: unfruitful (rarely found); C.f., Sallust Jug War 17.5 (arbore infecundos).


CJ 11.59.1 (380 - 444)(desertis), 3 (deserta), 5 (deserta), 8 (desertos: from desertor, oris); 11.62.7 (desertis); CTh 5.11.8 (365) (desertis), 9 (deserta); 11.1.12 (desertis); 13.11.15 (desertum). Meaning: abandon, desert, waste, stands alone, empty of people (c.f., Caesar BG 5.53.4 “in locis desertis”).

destituo CJ 11.59.5 (380 - 444) (destitutem), 8 (destituto); CTh 13.11.15 (destitutae). Meaning: abandon, forsake. horrens CTh 7.20.11 (horrentia). Meaning: rough, bristly, uncultivated (?), perhaps there is a connotation of wild; C.f., Plaut Truc 5,41 (see below at “squalida”).


CJ (380 - 444).6 (inutilor); CTh 11.1.4 (inutiles). Meaning: useless or unprofitable.

squalida CTh 7.20.11 (squalida); 13.11.4 (squalida). Meaning: parched (?), uncultivated, gloomy. C.f., Pliny NH 37.13.77; Plaut. Truc 5.41 (“homo horridus et squalidus”, meaning uncultivated or uneducated?); Amm. 19.6.7 (“squalida”, meaning gloomy or obscure).

Some of these examples, plausibly, indicate land that either has gone out of cultivation or was abandoned by its owners (destituo, desero). Destituo indicates that someone has forsaken property that had been in his/her care. The more commonly found term, desero, could be taken to suggest abandoned or wasteland (as it is most frequently translated), but it also could suggest an area bereft of humans or standing alone. Both CJ 11.59.1 (380 - 444) and 11 [400], where the land is ‘deserted,’ but upon which tenants remain, clearly show that even so called deserted land could have actively cultivating inhabitants.1 These two laws show that ‘deserted’ was primarily a legal term for land whose owner or registered taxpayer could not be located (Goffart 1974, pp. 68-69 with n. 4). Alleged abandoned lands had owners, legal possessors, tenants, and slaves. Abandoned lands were cultivated, grazed, improved, and could be left to children, friends, and/or the state. In other instances, the legislation necessarily implies neither previous ownership, nor anything about the quality of the land. Three terms could suggest exhaustion of soil (deficio, infecundus, sterilitas), but these only appear in four passages, and could suggest lands that were always

sterilitas CTh 5.14.33 (sterilitatem). Meaning: unfruitful, sterile, barren Also see ðσπορος, Julian, Misop 370D-371A (Ðσπόρους). Meaning: unsown, untilled, uncultivated. The interpretation of the terminology is crucial, because the theory of the decline of land quality and agriculture in the Late Roman Empire rests on these terms. The unnecessarily narrow interpretation of these legal terms has promoted the view that Late Roman agriculture was devastated. What is quite clear from the Imperial legislation is that there was some land from which taxes


CJ 11.59 generally deals with ‘deserted’ and sterile lands. The legislation was passed from ca. CE 380-444.


could not be collected. This could be either ‘new’ land1 or deserted land.

same time, Theodosius I enrolled many of these barbarians in the Roman military (Zos. 4.30-31; c.f., CTh 7.13.8, 9). In 409 and again in 423 the Imperial government confirmed the rights of the “barbarians” to own lands on the frontier (CTh 7.15.1,2). Administrators believed this policy would protect the borders. Roman landholders attempting to take this land received the death penalty. The Goths were thus settled in the Thracian and Macedonian provinces.4

Evidence for other settlement disruptions The invasions and migrations of the fourth through sixth centuries were used opportunistically by ancient commentators to bemoan the desertion of the countryside. Invasions by foreigners no doubt caused some country dwellers to experience poverty and desolation. Germanic and Hunnic invasions and migrations in the third, fourth and fifth centuries, and the Slavic invasions of the late sixth century must have had an impact on Achaia. The literary evidence for invasions is abundant, though most notably for the western parts of the Roman empire, since these areas bore the brunt of Germanic movements. However, Greece receives occasional mention. Ammianus (31.5.17), Eunapius (VS, Priscus, 482) and Procopius (HW 2.4.2f) describe the Germanic invasions in terms of the utter destruction of Greece and the Greeks. The implication from these sources is that both urban and rural areas in Greece were devastated by these incursions.

Alaric, king of the Visigothic foederati, is perhaps the best known of the foreigners to attack Greek lands. Taking advantage of an Imperial dispute over the control of Macedonia and Dacia he led a raid with his forces on southern Thrace, and eventually made his way into Greece. The invaders advanced into central Greece5 by way of Thermopylae, devastated Boeotia and Attica, sacked Corinth, Argos, and Sparta, and finally moved up into Epirus (Zos. 5.6; and, for example, Vasiliev 1958, pp. 91f; Jones 1964, p. 183; Wolfram 1988). However, the stories told of these raids reflect attacks on the richer city centers, rather than the rural lands. In the fifth century, during one of the numerous revolts that punctuated Zeno’s reign, ‘Greece and Thrace’ were ravaged by Theoderic Strabo and his 30,000 men (John of Antioch 211.2-5). However, much of the century was relatively free of invasions and migrations. Throughout the sixth century, Thrace and Illyricum saw continual raids by the Bulgars, who were able to reach occasionally into Greece (e.g., in CE 517)6 and even take captives.7 The invasions of the Bulgars and Avars may have created a genuine demographic crisis in some regions. Some believe that hundreds of thousands of Illyrians, Thracians, and Greeks were deported to areas beyond the Danube (Charanis 1959, p. 39). By most accounts, it was the Slavic invasions (and/or migrations) of the late sixth century that produced the greatest demographic dislocations. These dislocations lasted at least into the eighth century,8 though the Greeks may have held their

On the issue of invasion and migration, the sources do not completely mislead us. ‘Barbarians’ did, in fact, penetrate deep into Greece. In the third century, the Goths,2 in their land raids of the Balkans, managed to travel as far south as Thessalonika. By sea, they later reached Argos, Corinth, and probably Athens, in addition to the islands of Rhodes, Cyprus, and Crete (Vasiliev 1958, pp. 84f; Heather 1992; Wolfram 1988). There is good archaeological confirmation of these invasions (e.g., Thompson 1959; Frantz 1988, pp. 1-13). For a time, the Goths had enjoyed relative peace, inside and out of the Empire, until Hunnic migrations forced the Goths to leave the Danubian frontier of the Empire. The Goths then requested permission to enter the Empire as settlers and potential soldiers. In CE 376, with Roman permission, they crossed into the Empire and many settled in the province of Thrace. Insufficient food supplies, and mismanagement by Roman administrators resulted in the Gothic rebellion that eventually caused the death of the Emperor Valens. The new Emperor, Theodosius I, managed to persuade the Goths to settle in the Balkans, more or less peacefully, with inducements of land and money payments.3 At the

apparently a two-way street. Fear of Roman counter-raids may have prevented, therefore, some incursions into the empire. 4 Jordanes says (Get 145) that 20,000 men were enrolled in the military alone, possibly indicating the enormity of the human influx. But, ultimately, the size of the ‘barbarian hordes’ is unknown. 5 They were aided by Christian monks, according to Eunapius, Vit Soph Maximus, 476. 6 See e.g., Theophanes A.M. 6051; Agathias, 5.11f, also see for the Cotigur invasions of 559 ad; Procopius HW 3.11.15. According to Charanis, 1959, there were few ethnic consequences from the Bulgar invasions, though he believes the political consequences were serious. 7 Anastasius ordered these prisoners to be ransomed, at great cost to the empire. See Jones 1964, p. 235, 1112 n. 40. 8 One of the serious afflictions suffered by individual property owners, as recorded in the tenth-century Marcian Treatise, was devastation by enemy attack (Brand 1969, no’s. 45, 49). The “Sclavenes” (in the 580’s) managed to settle on the lands that they had depopulated (John of Ephesus HE 6.25). The issue of when and where the Slavs settled in Greece was first brought seriously to the attention of scholars by J. P. Fallmerayer, who believed that the ancient Greek ‘race’ had been utterly


See Evagrios 447.19-26 who refers to “land which previously had not been tilled.” 2 On the Goths see H. Wolfram, 1988, History of the Goths (trans. T. J. Dunlap), Berkeley, New York and London. More recently see P. Heather 1992, Goths and Romans, Oxford. Heather argues for rapid and significant change caused by the Goths. His most important contribution may be his reevaluation of the Goth’s historian, Jordanes. 3 C.f., Theophylact Simocatta, HE , ed. by C de Boor, Leipzig, 1887, p. 226, where he describes the gifts of tribute to the Avars under the Emperor Maurice; also on tribute to the barbarians FCH Priscus 3.1; Malchus 2 (where the Emperor Leo pays the Goths 2000 lbs of gold/year). Zosimus (3.6) relates that the Franks feared attacking Northern Germany because it might provoke the Romans into a counter-raid, which the Romans themselves used to restock their farms in Gaul. Raiding was


own in Attica, eastern Greece and islands such as Euboea.1 This particular horizon of settlement disruption is confirmed by archaeological data.

Evidence for rural prosperity The literary sources are not always gloomy. There were opportunities to extol the virtues, wealth, and stability of the countryside. Of course, these opportunities were equally subject to hyperbole and rhetorical exaggeration. There were times when praise of the empire and its rulers was most appropriate. Priscus and Cosmas, a Christian writer and monk of the early sixth century, both had high praise for the Roman Empire and its economy (FCH 9.3.454f; CT 2.146-148, 11.1f). Cosmas tells the story of a Roman trader in India, and he characterizes the Romans and their empire as “powerful and wise,” as well as wealthy with money of the highest possible quality.

The important point is that there is little evidence that the population movements from the third century until the sixth had a long-term effect on the agrarian economy.2 Many of the invasions most likely resembled those described by Zosimus (3.7 — small marauding bands of men who broke into farms and drank the wine). Despite gloomy letters from individuals such as Synesius, CE 400, the enemy, in fact, usually turned out to be little more than raiders (Whittaker 1976, p. 139). Though disturbing to those farmers who lost their wine reserves or cattle, these are not the kind of population movements that will have had long term effects on land ownership or land use. Therefore, these invasions should not be used to bolster an account of vast Late Roman land abandonment and depopulation.

Other examples of rural prosperity and stability were used in the same way as references to provincial rural destitution. As proof of good leadership, Ammianus (30.9.1) tells us that the emperor Valentinian I was indulgent towards the provincials, and reduced their tax loads (but c.f., 29.3.1, where Valentinian I is “savagely cruel”). Valens too is described as just towards the provinces and he did not raise taxes (Amm. 31.14.1; but c.f., 29.1.17-22, where Valens is described as greedy and bloodthirsty). Thus, the good behavior of these emperors is reflected in the peace and prosperity of the provincials and their lands in the same way that bad behavior was reflected in poverty and abandonment of their lands.

exterminated (see chapter 1). His position set off dozens of studies concerning Slavs in Greece. Most have rejected Fallmerayer’s extreme view of the effects of Slavic settlement, but they accepted the idea that the Slavs had settled in Greece. This position really has never been questioned by serious scholars. (Charanis 1959, p. 40f). Where, when, and exactly how many Slavs remained in dispute. The date and distribution of the earliest Slavic settlements has occupied the research of Byzantinist Peter Charanis. His conclusions based largely on the literary evidence are these: The Slavs settled in Greece proper and in the Peloponnesos at the very end of the sixth century. Slavs are said to have been particularly numerous in Thrace, northern Epirus, and in the Peloponnesos. Evidence also confirms their presence in Elis, Arcadia, and Laconia (in the mountains of the Taygetos), a few in Attica, and possibly Boeotia. They eventually ‘became’ Greek themselves, in both language and culture. See the general histories of the period, such as Obolensky 1982 (reprint of 1972); Fine 1983; Cheetham 1981; Jones 1964; Bury 1958; Vasiliev 1958; Ostrogorsky 1969 (rev. ed.); There are numerous articles and books devoted entirely to the subject of the Slavs and evidence for Slavic movements. See, for example, Charanis 1946, 1950, esp. pp. 164-166, 1953a, 1959, 1970b; Lemerle 1954, 1963, 1980; Thompson 1959; Metcalf 1962; Gregory 1982a; Jenkins 1963; Vasmer 1941 pp. 202f on Slavic settlements and on Slavic place names e.g., 20-76, 113-118, 128-174; E. Chrysanthopolous 1951, Περà του Χρονικο³ τ±ς Μονεµβάσιας, Epeteris Byzantinon Spoudon 21 pp. 238-253; Bon 1951; Lipsic 1951, esp. p. 94 on agrarian law and the colonization by the Slavs; Zakythinos 1945, on the history of the Slavs in Greece. 1 On the other hand, reduction of population in the areas just below the Danube did facilitate the ultimate settlement of the Slavs (Charanis, 1959, p. 39). That the Slavs were numerous is suggested in several sources. Justinian II resettled Slavs and inducted “30,000” Slavic men into the army (Theophanes A.M. 6184). Vasmer suggests that, based on the Slavic names preserved, western Greece and Epirus had a total of 558 settlements (1941 pp. 20-76), Attica only 18 (1941 pp. 120-123). 2 Eunapius (FCH 42) said that Thrace, Macedonia and Thessaly were lands of great beauty, with numerous and wealthy populations. When the Scythians attacked, he said that Thrace was depopulated and the countryside devastated. No such results were reported for Thessaly or Macedonia.

Ammianus described the agricultural produce of many eastern provinces, though not Achaia specifically (14.8.115). Cilicia, for example, was a land abounding in products of many kinds. Cyprus, likewise, enjoyed a surplus in products of every kind, and Ammianus describes it as very fertile. Isauria was blessed with fruitful vines and abundant grain. Palestine was filled with cultivated and well-kept lands, in addition to its splendid cities. Syria3 was rich in domestic and imported products, and was adorned by Antioch (c.f., Proc. HW 1.17.35-37, who agrees). In the late fourth or early fifth century, Socrates remarked on provincial wealth, and said that the land around Alexandria was flourishing, had many villages, an abundant population, and numerous splendid churches (EH 1.27.50).4 Eunapius (FCH 62) castigates Rufinus for being fond of arresting owners of fertile lands, though no specific area is mentioned. Achaia and nearby regions were sometimes explicitly lauded. Several Late Roman poems extol the beauties and richness of the Greek countryside. Sidonius Apollonarius describes fields in Greece that were always “filled with flowers” and where there was an “eternal spring” (2.407f), and regions where mountains were “carpeted in lush forests” (2.508-510). He also describes the products of several provinces, and noted, particularly, that Achaia was famed for its honey, olives — and Corinthian bronze (5.40f). Two anonymous poems from about CE 500, 3

On Antioch and Syria see the orations and letters of Libanius, with the modern studies of Liebeschuetz 1972, 1977, 1990. 4 Earlier, as well, (HA Pret. 18.5) the provinces had been described as well-stocked and wealthy.


possibly composed by Pampronius of Panapolis, describe Greece in equally idyllic terms (Gk. Lit. Pap. 140). The first relates a day in November and the activities taking place in the countryside. Herding, plowing and the worship of Demeter are lovingly described. The second, in praise of the Athenian archon Theagenes, includes general laudatory references to Athens.

sometimes explain the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire as a consequence of this phenomenon (e.g., Rostovtzeff 1957, pp. 344-345; Jones 1964, p. 773; Ostrogorsky 1967, pp. 29-30; Rees 1987, p. 485). Scholars invoke such evidence to show how and why the small farmer disappeared from the Roman landscape. Hence, a survey of the evidence for the development of large estates could prove useful for gaining an understanding both of Late Roman land use and land tenure, since it has been plausibly argued that larger estate holders use their lands very differently that small subsistence farmers (e.g., Foxhall 1990, 1989; Alcock 1989, 1993). There are too few identifiable properties to trace the general development of villas or other elite properties in Late Roman Achaia, but sufficient numbers are present to assure us of their continued existence. Certainly, there is some evidence for private, Imperial and even Church landholdings of considerable size in Greece and Achaia specifically. Table 2.2 presents the evidence for Imperial and Church holdings in Achaia during the Empire.

The evidence sometimes suggests genuine rural prosperity and settlement and not merely poetic wealth. Procopius mentions that imperial granaries1 were built “all over Greece” (de Aed. 4.2.14f) and a granary built on Tenedos that was large enough to allow a fleet to unload (de Aed. 5.1.13-16). We also hear of imperial granaries at Corinth and Scarphia (IG vii, 24). These sources indicate that grain levies were an important part of the regular taxation of Achaia, and are indicative of production of grain beyond subsistence levels. Zosimus, describing the incursion of CE 379-380, notes that the invaders made their way into the regions around Thessalonika, where they could be found lying drunk in the fields, having gorged themselves on the abundant “delicacies of the fields” (4.25.1). Eunapius records that Athens was allowed to collect grain from several Aegean islands (Prohaer. 492), which provided a stable food source for the city. It is likely, therefore, that the islands were producing sufficient surplus grain for export. And in his Panygeric to Constantius (1.8D), Julian comments on the benevolence of Constantine2 towards Athens. Constantine bestowed “tens of thousands of bushels of wheat” upon the city. Significantly, Julian believed the Athenians had no need of the grain. Perhaps the most important such source is Paulinus of Pella (Euchar. 41419; CE fifth century) who wrote about the condition of his own Greek estates. He says that his farms in Greece and Epirus were worked by numerous coloni and were abundantly productive, even for an extravagant landlord like himself. This is the only available direct testimony about an individual’s property that we have, and it reflects prosperous rural settlement. It is apparent from the sources that while there were instances of complaint about provincial settlement instability and decline, there were an equal number of laudatory comments about provincial settlement continuity and abundant agricultural wealth, often by the same authors for the same periods.

Four of the estates listed above belong to the Late Roman period with which we are concerned. There is evidence for at least two estates held by the Christian Church. In addition to these, as noted above, Paulinus of Pella discusses his vast private wealth, dispersed over several cities and territories, including Athens and Epirus (Euch 498f, 575f, esp. 413f and 516f). Ancient references to villas provide other evidence for larger, private landholdings, if it may be assumed, as is customary, that a villa has significant accompanying land. However, a straightforward documentary definition of either ‘estate’ or ‘villa’ is less easy to determine. Ulpian’s3 definition of villas and estates suggest the difficulties: A villa may be simply a building as in Dig. 50.16.27 (Ulpian) where “‘ager’ est locus, qui sine villa est.” A villa4 may also be a large and elaborate building complex, with baths, mosaics, and other signs of wealth. Sometimes, a villa may indicate the entire estate, with its associated property (Dig. 7.1.12 [Ulpian]). The Digest 50.16.60 (Ulpian) explains expressions such as ‘estate’ and ‘place’: Locus’ est non fundus, sed portio aliqua fundi: ‘fundus’ autem integrum aliquid est. et plerumque sine uilla ‘locum’ accipimus: ceterum adeo opinio nostra et constitutio locum a fundo separat, ut et modicus locus possit fundus dici, si fundi animo eum habuimus. non etiam magnitudo locum a fundo separat, sed nostra affectio.

Evidence for large estates, villas and imperial property Further illustrating the challenging nature of the evidence, are the data for the development of large estates at the expense of the small subsistence farmer — a theme that runs throughout evaluations of the Roman world, from the beginning of the empire to its end. Modern historians


A third century jurist whose rules became and remained law into Justinian’s era, Ulpian is frequently cited in the Digest. In fact, he is more frequently cited by Justinian’s compilers than any other jurist. He influenced Elagabulus and Severus Alexander and died ca. CE 223 (POxy 31.2665). 4 The Greek term, οÓκία, refers to a habitation or other residence, or even a birdcage, and thus may or may not be the residence of a wealthy person. Unless the sources are in Latin where such distinctions are more easily discerned, the relative status of the habitation remains in great doubt.


Administered by the praepositi horreorum. No doubt it was easier for him to praise the father rather than the son, who did away with so many of Julian’s relatives. Ammianus (21.17) also disapproved of Constantius, believeing that the emperor had no concern whatsoever for the welfare of the provinces.




Table 2.2 Imperial And Church Landholdings In Achaia Description and Source


Property of Hipparchus, temporary control by the Imperial fisc. Philostratus VS 2. 247: Oliver 1953: 960-963: Crawford 1976, p. 66; IG II-III2 2. 2776.202-203, 209.

Aegean Islands

Gift from Emperor Constans to the sophist Prohaeresius in ca. CE 354. Eunapius Vit Soph (Prophaer.) 492.


Estates of unknown family confiscated by the Emperor (A tenuous identification of Imperial landholding. around CE 100). Dio Chrysostom Or 7.12 (Euboean Discourse).


Estates of Tithorra (An Imperial tenant? A tenuous identification of Imperial landholding.) Pausanius 10.32.11; Alcock 1989a, p. 86.


Two CE fourth century estates owned by the Church of Rome. Lib. Pont. 34, 35, 39, 44; Jones 1964, p. 782; Rees 1987, p. 484.

A ‘locus’ is not an estate but some part of an estate; a ‘fundus [estate]’ however, is something complete, and we mostly regard as a locus something without a villa [building]; but both in our opinion and by constitutio a locus is distinct from a fundus in such a way that a locus can be called a fundus if we possess it with the intention of regarding it as a fundus. Indeed, it is not size which distinguishes a locus from a fundus but our intention.1

aedificia omnia urbana praedia appellantur, esti in villa aedificata sunt…(Institutes 2.3.1)

One of the more interesting aspects of the passage above is the role of intention in the legal definition.2 We have an estate, if we say and believe we have an estate. Urban and rural estates conformed to the same rule of intentionality (Dig 50.16.198). Ulpian declared that urban estates included all buildings, whether in villages or villas (in villis et in vicis), if they were residences that served only for pleasure. Therefore, it was not the position of the estate but its nature that defined it as urban or rural. Even gardens could be included among urban estates, unless they produced goods for profit (like vineyards or large vegetable patches). On the other hand, even urban estates are not so easily defined. Justinian says:

These facts render evaluations of statements about estates and villas all the more difficult to interpret. The ‘estates’ mentioned in the legal and literary documents — where no size is specified or implied — could literally be of any size and could be either urban or rural (in the legal sense or in terms of their locations). Even if Ulpian and Justinian represent the ancient view accurately, and not merely legalistically, ancient authors may still have differed in their own definitions of villas and estates.

The servitudes of urban lands are those which pertain to buildings and so they get their name: for all buildings are called urban estates, even though they be built in the country… (trans. J. A. C. Thomas)

Typical references to villa estates are comments like those of Eunapius, who mentions the suburban villas of the sophist Iamblichus, one of which was within walking distance to Constantinople (VS Iamb., 459 ). The literary sources do not often refer to Achaian villa estates. In the third century, Philostratus, for example, described the wealth and residences of Damianus in Asia Minor (VS 23.606). The Codex Theodosianus mentions estates and villas.3 For example 1.16.11 (369) refers to the journeys of governors “through the villas of all persons” in order to ferret out complaints against tax collectors.4 The Codex also refers to the granting of lands, estates, and villas from Imperial holdings, “and they shall be assured that each villa, along with its equipment, and the legal status to which it is now obligated [i.e., its tax status] shall pass to

Praediorum urbanorum sunt servitutes quae aedificiis inhaerent, ideo urbanorum praediorum dictae quoniam 1

Watson in the Mommsen edition 1985, p. 938, vol 4.; related to this passage is Dig. 34.5.1 (Papinian),with CIL XI, 1147, where a fundus (estate) does not lose its identity as an individual estate when incorporated into a larger holding. The larger holding is referred to as a massa fundorum . This passage confirms the intentionality expressed in 50.16.60 (Ulpian). Other legal strictures utilize intention: Dig. (Paul) where one possesses by will summer and winter pastures, even though we desert them at given periods (saltus hibernos aestiuosque animo possidemus, quamuis certis temporibus eos relinquamus); and (Papinian) where summer and winter pastures are retained by intent (quorum possessio retinetur animo), even though we have no slave or tenant there. 2 A legal definition is not necessarily the same as a colloquialism.


Villas explicitly: CTh 1.16.11 [369]; 5.13.2, 4 [341, 364 - 368]: 9.17.1 [340]; 16.5. 21 [392], 66 [435]; NVal 21.2. 4 According to Pharr, however, we are to understand this as a reference meaning “great landed estates, including farms and villages” (CTh 1.16.11, n. 54).


the ownership of the new owner” (CTh 5.13.4 [364-368]).1 However, the fisc retained the rights to “palaces” (CTh 10.10.16). Ammianus chides estate owners when he “sympathized” with the distances that owners had to travel in order to visit their lands (28.4.17-19). Most of the villas noted above were found in the west (Percival 1976; 1987; and e.g., Sidonius Ep. 2.7) and many of the archaeologically recorded villas are also in the west. Nevertheless, Romans such as Paulinus and Herodes Atticus are known to have held vast estates and must have owned ‘villas’. Senatorial families in cities such as Sparta, Corinth, and Athens no doubt held large estates. Philostratus tells us that Proclus owned 2 houses (οÓκία) in Athens, 1 in Piraeus and 1 at Eleusis (VS, 21.603-604). Some of these may have been urban villas.2

with its economy in shambles. Nor do the texts support the belief that natural or man-made disasters caused long-term disruption of agricultural exploitation. Moreover, the legislative data indicates imperial confidence in and support for improving agricultural production, tax revenues and stability in land use. Agricultural policy is effectively reflected in the legislation and likely resulted in an expansion of agricultural exploitation, as well as the proliferation of a type of agriculture that emphasized increased productivity on a given unit of land. Much of this expansion occurred through the settlement of small farmers on the land itself, rather than in towns, and it was this phenomenon of increased rural residence that created the highly visible rural archaeological record for which so many recent archaeological surveys in Achaia have found evidence.

Another kind of evidence for locating large estates are the references to estates and villas in the most notorious of imperial revenue sources: confiscations of property. Property could be lost to the rightful owners through tax evasion or backing the wrong political person at the wrong time. Complaints about such confiscations make explicit reference to “estates” (fundus e.g., CTh 10.1.8 [364], 10.8.4 [346, 353], 10.9.1 [369], 10.10.15 [380]; Zos. 4.14.3-4, 5.1.2f; Eunap. FCH 62.2, 72.3; Eus. HC 8.14.120; Amm. 14.1.3-6). It is interesting that the Codex Theodosianus (10.8.4 [346, 353) lays out the typical disposition of confiscated lands. The urban properties with their gold, silver, slaves, and movable goods were distributed among supporters of the Emperor. Rural properties, on the other hand, along with slaves, all landholdings, and houses were to remain in the possession of the fisc. The distribution appears to imply that rural properties were more valuable, perhaps over the long term, than urban properties. The fisc obviously felt that it could derive more income from rural areas. On the other hand, rural lands confiscated from an enemy as a result of war would be given to the leaders and soldiers of the frontier armies — a rare instance when rural properties were given up as a matter of course (CJ 11.60.3 (529-564).3 Summary of documentary sources The sources of the fourth through sixth centuries provide evidence for settlement stability and instability in Greece. Literary rhetoric, however, often indicates a desire to manipulate audiences, not to represent reality. The authors promote their ideological positions, personal opinions, and frustrations with their status in the Empire. Nevertheless, literary evidence does not support a picture of an empire 1

Translated by Pharr. C.f., Philostratus VS 602, concerning a young man about to be evicted from his house (οÓκία) which was worth at least 10,000 drachma. 3 Aristocratic writers complain bitterly about unfair imperial confiscations. Libanius (Or 1.125; 51.30; Ep 1154), Zosimus (4.14.3-4) and Ammianus (14.1.3-6) lament that confiscations were just used to fill the treasury of “extravagant princes.” See also: Eusebius HC 3.1, 54; 8.14.1-20 and Laud.Const. 7.13, 8.1f, 9.6; Julian, Or 7.228b; Libanius Or 30.6. Zosimus 2.34.2. Malchus (FCH 3) said that Leo plundered his subjects to obtain revenues, because taxes were insufficient. 2


CHAPTER THREE RURAL AND URBAN LANDSCAPES: EVIDENCE FROM ARCHAEOLOGY The technique of archaeological surface survey is a major component of investigation in the Mediterranean area, because these surveys provide data on patterns of settlement over large geographical regions (Alcock 1993). Settlement and land use trends are especially useful to facilitate understanding of long-term cultural change that cannot be as easily traced in other forms of data. Land use, of course, can be inferred from erosion patterns and modern vegetation, but it also can be inferred from type and size of sites found in the landscape. There are strong correlations among site size, land-tenure systems, and kinds of land use, which may be explained as a product of policies pursued by the ruling powers. We need to address several issues in order to make sense of this data, and to illustrate conditions in the regional landscape, including long-term settlement patterns, site continuity, site size, and site function. Quantifying or even “defining” sites is not enough. Long-term settlement patterns must also be investigated through comparisons of site distributions and densities. There is evidence from regional studies that affirms province-wide change in settlement distributions, from a more nucleated to a more dispersed pattern of settlement. The other factors noted below will help to establish the nature of the changes in the rural hinterlands of Achaia.

notions about site location. An intensive, systematic survey is able to produce more detailed data about settlement patterns and land use (or the lack thereof) at both the upper and lower ends of the settlement hierarchy. Typically, an area is examined by teams consisting of 3-6 people, who walk the landscape along lines (transects) spaced about 10-15 m. apart. The surveyors record the artifacts that they observe.

Photo 3.1: Surveyors beginning close collection at villa site, Euboea

Regional studies undertaken in Achaia are commonly surface surveys. While surveys vary in their goals, it is clear that the methods of collection and recording employed by a survey can dramatically affect the site densities discovered. The more intensive1 the method used, the more sites that are found (Cherry, Davis & Mantzourani 1992, chap. 2; Barker 1991; Vallet 1991; Bintliff & Snodgrass 1985, pp. 135-136; Cherry 1983, pp. 390-394; Plog, Plog and Wait 1978). Surveys in Achaia have generally been divided into two types, extensive and intensive.2 Extensive surveys concentrate efforts over a large territory, and tend to focus on larger settlements (the upper end of the settlement hierarchy), and often rely on documentary data, environmental features, or previous knowledge of sites. Frequently, one chronological period is of primary concern, though most extensive surveys record evidence for all periods found. The usefulness of extensive survey is in its ability to cover vast expanses of land. Intensive surveys usually concentrate on a more circumscribed area and examine it very carefully, recording data diachronically, without preconceived

Collection policies differ, but diagnostic artifacts (both ceramic and non-ceramic) are often collected for further study during initial field-walking. Areas of relatively high artifact densities (sites) are usually re-examined and an additional collection of artifacts is made at a later stage of field-walking. Intensive surveys3 have tended to produce a greater number of sites/hectare than have extensive surveys, generally recovering between .02-.07 sites/hectare (= 2-7 sites/km).4 The extensive surveys produced far


For specific publication references or preliminary reports, see each project separately in this chapter. Area and site data is the closest approximation. The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project recently completed survey in the Messenia region. Though final numbers are not published, I will summarize data from their Internet edition ( The project directors have published their material most recently in the following: J. Davis (ed.) 1998, Sandy Pylos; An Archaeological History from Nestor to Navarino, University of Texas Press. See also J.L. Davis, S.E. Alcock, J. Bennet, and C.W. Shelmerdine, “The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project: Part I, Overview And The Archaeological Survey,” Hesperia 66 (1997) 391-494. E. Zangger, M.E. Timpson, S.B. Yazvenko, F. Kuhnke, and J. Knauss, “The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project: Part II, Landscape Evolution and Site Preservation, Hesperia 66 (1997). 4 Exceptions are the Gulf Islands survey and the Akra Sophia area survey — both involved an area too small to be considered truly a ‘region.’


The word ‘intensive’ is used both to describe a method of survey and a kind of land use. In this chapter, the intensive method of survey is usually discussed. If intensive land use is meant, I will say so explicitly. 2 Cherry 1982, p. 15 and Bennett 1986 describe the categories; Gregory 1986, pp. 157-158 also describes the difference between extensive and intensive succinctly, and directs my basic definition of surveys; and c.f. on comparisons among surveys generally, Hodder and Orton 1976, pp. 237-238; and, more recently, Barker 1991; Vallet 1991.


Table 3.1 Regional Archaeological Studies Size (ha.) #Sites

Project/Area INTENSIVE SURVEYS Argolid Exploration Project (AEP) Cambridge/Bradford Boiotian


4400 2100

328 81

.07/ha. .04/ha.

2000 7000 7700 4000

71 461 306 102

.04/ha. .06/ha. .04/ha. .03/ha.

Project (NVAP) Pylos Regional Archaeological Project




(PRAP) Southern Euboea Exploration




Project (SEEP) Southern Euboea Survey (Karystos) Stanford Skourta Plain

2500 2600

89 76

.04/ha. .03/ha.

Project (Skourta) Berbati Survey (Berbati) Gulf of Corinth Survey (Gulf Islands) Kenchreai Survey (Kenchreai) Akra Sophia Survey (Akra Sophia) cf. Melos Survey (Province of Insulae)

3200 6000 110 4.3 16.0 3020

120 --15 --7 111

.04/ha. --.14/ha. --.43/ha. .04/ha.




380,000 19,200 21,600 ---

455 72 19 22(23?)

.001/ha. .003/ha. .0008/ha. ---

Expedition (Boiotia) Keos Survey (Keos) Laconia Survey (Laconia) Megalopolis Survey (Megalopolis) Methana Survey (Methana) Nemea Valley Archaeological

EXTENSIVE Aetolia Survey (Aetolia) University of Minnesota Messenia Expedition (UMME) Nichoria-Five Rivers (Nichoria) Phokis Survey (Phokis) Opountian Lokris Survey (Lokris)

fewer, between .001-.007 sites/ha.1 Surveys find artifact distributions from both relatively simple sites, with plotted or grid collected artifacts, and more complex sites. Basically, a site should be considered as a physical location altered by human activity. Gallant’s paper (1986) contributed greatly to the discussion on the problem of site definition in surface survey; he argued that sites are part of a continuum of artifact distribution. Following his lead, I believe that sites must be understood in relation to overall visibility and to artifact density across the survey region, hence the definition below of sites by density and area. The lighter densities referred to in his paper are the “background noise” of his title. Major surveys thus far conducted in Achaia and published are listed in Table 3.1.

clear chronological distinctions somewhat problematic. The Roman period may include any span of the years between 146 BCE to CE 600. Therefore, when a site is said to have a “Roman” component, no finely tuned chronological information is revealed. Worse, not all surveys make the same chronological distinctions, and the “Roman” period in one set of data may not be the chronological equivalent to the “Roman” period in another. Table 3.2 illustrates the issue and presents the terminology used for chronological distinctions by individual survey.2

The dates associated with particular sites are typically not finely differentiated according to period, which has made


In analysis of the projects, I will use the following chronological terms: C-HL = 480 - 100 BCE, HL = 300 - 100 BCE, ER = 100 BCE - CE 200, MR = CE 200-400, ER/MR= BCE 100- CE 400, LR=CE 400-600, EB = CE 600-1000. When an individual project’s chronology will not comfortably fit in these categories, their own will be used but explicitly specified. Please note: All data in the project tables and graphs reflect the chronological distinctions of individual projects unless otherwise stated.


The exceptions in this case are Phokis and Lokris. These two surveys had targeted previously known sites, and did not survey elsewhere in the region.


settlement in Achaia, we need to ask exactly how land was exploited and divided. We will need to look at site sizes and their changes, site continuity, particularly the abandonment of sites and/or the creation of new sites, exploitation evidence, and larger regional patterns in settlement, particularly more or less nucleated settlement patterns. Is there archaeological evidence for the appearance or disappearance of the subsistence farmer with small and medium sized landholdings, and correspondingly an increase in the number of larger estates or vice versa? Do sites generally grow larger or smaller? Can sites be identified with buildings belonging to wealthier individuals or small settlements, or are properties in the hands of poorer individuals? Do sites generally increase or decrease in number? For the Early Roman periods a general pattern of loss of the smallest sizes of sites has already been charted (Alcock 1989a, pp. 97-106, figs. 5.3a-h; Lloyd 1991, p. 235). Such a pattern was taken to indicate a marked decline in the number of independent, small-scale proprietors (Alcock 1989a, p. 106; 1993).

Table 3.2 Chronologies Of Regional Projects Project Chronological period Aetolia/Phokis/Lokris ER 100 BCE - CE 100 MR/LR CE 100-400 R 30 BCE- CE 600 ECHR CE 400-700 EB (BYZ) CE 700-1000 MB (MED) CE 1000-1200 Boiotia/Skourta/GulfIslands/ Kenchreai/Cape Sophia EHL 330-200 BCE LHL 200-30 BCE ER 30 BCE- CE 250 R 30 BCE- CE 600 LR CE 250- 600. EB CE 600-1000 MB CE 1000-1300 Melos/Keos/NVAP ER 30 BCE -CE 250 LR CE 250-650 EB CE 650-1000 MB CE 1000-1300 SEEP/AEP/Berbati HL 250-100 BCE ER 100 BCE- CE 200 MR CE 200-400 LR CE 400-600 EB CE 600-1000 MB CE 1000-1300 Karystos HL 300-0 BCE R CE 0-600 LR CE 300-600 B CE 600-1200 UMME/Nichoria C 500-369 BCE HL 369-146 BCE R 146 BCE- CE 330 MED CE 330 to ? Methana/PRAP HL 300-100 BCE LHL-ER 1st cent. BCE- CE 1st cent. R 100 BCE- CE 300 MR CE 1st cent.- CE 4th cent. LR CE 4th cent.- CE 7th cent. Laconia/Megalopolis C-HL not determined HL not determined HL-R not determined R not determined LR not determined EM (Early Medieval) not determined MED not determined

By studying changes in these settlement factors, we will be able to identify changes in the socio-economic and political processes that may be used to explain why people choose to use their land in the ways they do. Generalizations about site continuity and site sizes can provide insights into class stability and instability. A disruption in site use can suggest that the population had changed, or that alterations in social structures have caused a new elite to emerge and/or an old elite to disappear (Renfrew 1972, pp. 244-248). On the other hand, when sites exhibit continuous occupation, relative stability in landholdings may be suggested.1 Some shifts in settlement and continuity are bound to occur through inheritance and other normal forms of land alienation. However, a regional pattern can suggest the existence of relative stability or instability in landholding practices; continual occupation of sites suggests class tenure stability. This information is useful for charting region-wide societal changes.2 Site sizes in our surveys typically estimate the size of the main buildings and the immediately surrounding area, and do not measure the total size of the farm or estate. Nevertheless, the existence of small and poor sites, represented by few artifacts or artifacts of low quality, 1

Short-term or historically specific land-tenure changes, however, can be completely missed in the material evidence, as is borne out by the Digest (18.1.75 [Hermogenian]), which refers to cases where an owner sells his land with the provision that he be able to remain on it while paying a fixed rent. In this instance, the law notes a provision that allows the former owner, now tenant, first option to buy back the land. Individual sites with evidence for occupational stability cannot be used in isolation to indicate that the same kind of landholding practices were in effect. 2 Very broad chronological periods can obscure the continuity data because of their lack of precision. That a site was in use from the Hellenistic through Roman periods does not prove that someone actually lived on that property from 300 BCE until CE 600. This analysis does not attempt to chart the history of individual landowners, but rather attempts to chart provincial patterns of land use over the long term.

Clearly, the ancient landscape was formed by a number of processes, natural and man-made, such as land-tenure patterns, agricultural land use and erosion patterns. To better understand human influences on the land and especially the impact of public policies on land use and


might be reasonably taken to suggest subsistence or near subsistence use of the small to medium landholding,1 while larger, richer artifact collections may be taken as an indication of larger properties involved in cash-cropping. It is likely that we are able to correlate farmers of small properties with a relatively dispersed (and arguably, intensively used) settlement pattern of rural sites.2

possibly tools such as olive and wine presses and grinding stones.

Newly founded sites, a site with no component of the preceding period, can add another chronological measure to aid in refining the dates of regional site use. A regional trend of low site continuity accompanied by a high percentage of new sites, or, high site continuity accompanied by a dramatic increase in site numbers, suggests shifts in landholding, which reflect changes in land ownership and/or land exploitation (Alcock 1989, p. 92). For my purposes, data on continuity, when supplemented by new site evidence, provide evidence for testing the theory that public policy resulted in land use in smaller more intensively cultivated units during the Late Roman era. Data on the percent of newly founded sites will help refine and make the evidence for continuity more exact. For example, the site continuity pattern in the Late Hellenistic to Early Roman period, according to Alcock, showed a “definite and widely occurring break in the apparent continuity of settlement between the ‘ClassicalHellenistic’ and the subsequent ‘Hellenistic-Roman’ era.” She argued for a higher degree of change, that is, an interruption of land tenure, in landholding patterns in the latter period (1989a, p. 94). Alcock demonstrated that, for the Hellenistic to Early Roman period, considering continuity patterns in conjunction with new site patterns indicated a clear change in landholding patterns.3 The existence of farmsteads — smaller, less wealthy establishments with an agricultural focus — can also be inferred from the survey data. Farmsteads may be expected to have been located close to agricultural land, and to have contained a variety of pottery types, including coarse and plainware and storage vessels, roof tiles, and

Photo 3.2: Pottery and tiles, placed on a grinding stone on-site Naturally, not all sites in the rural archaeological record will have been farmsteads or agricultural villas. It is important to consider the range of types of special purpose sites, such as towers, quarries, graves, and kilns, present in a rural setting. In order to recognize an increase or decrease in specific kinds of rural agricultural activity, we must be able reasonably to distinguish types of sites in the rural archaeological record. The extent to which such sites were present or absent at various times in the past can serve as an indicator of the relative importance of urban centers to rural residents. At times when habitation in cities was less desirable, we should expect to find more and a wider variety of special purpose sites. The countryside was always used by ancient Greeks and Romans for religious ceremonies of various sorts. However, when pagan ritual was restricted to rural areas and banished from the cities, such a significant change should be reflected in the archaeological record. The conversion of urban pagan temples to churches was a common occurrence. Fowden (1988, p. 57) reviewed the rural archaeological and literary data for Attica and noted


Obviously, all small sites need not represent permanent habitation: c.f. Theophylact Simocatta (1.4.2), who said that when the Huns moved into Thrace, they found that the majority of the inhabitants of the town of Singidundum were camped in the fields, since the harvest constrained them to do this, because it was summer, and they were gathering their subsistence. 2 Small rural sites are here taken to be in the 0 - 0.30 ha. size range. One hectare equals 10,000 square meters, hence 0.30 ha. = 3,000 m2. On correlation of site sizes and tenure types see e.g., Jameson 1990, p. 6 (for settlement in the Hellenistic period); Halstead 1987; Osborne 1985a, where he equates dispersed settlement with intensity of land use; Davis 1992; Bintliff and Snodgrass 1985, p. 139, define small as 0 - 0.50 ha; Cherry, et al. 1992, mark the threshold at 0- 0.40 ha; and in Alcock 1989a, p. 97 small is 0 - 0.30 ha; Davis (1992) links agricultural land use to land ownership/tenure systems and small sites to small-scale, presumably independent, landholdings. Foxhall (1990) links tenant farming to some small and medium sites, also with Mee et al. 1991. 3 Even while keeping in mind that both low total site numbers and long chronological periods are involved.


that, in the Late Roman era, there seems to have been an increase in pagan cultic activity in mountain caves. Presumably, the cities were no longer congenial for pagan worship and non-Christian devotees needed to leave the urban areas to practice their religion.

which appear to reflect large estates. There are no Late Roman sites in the smallest category (0-.30 ha) that elsewhere have been viewed as single family farmsteads. In the Early Roman period, there was also a concentration at the two highest sizes levels, supporting a theory of the development of large estates at the beginning of Imperial rule in Greece. In contrast, the site size produced by the PRAP survey are consistently larger that the other surveys. The Early Roman, Roman, and the Late Roman periods show a predominance of the largest two categories, perhaps reflecting closer proximity to Rome itself.

Site size hierarchies Site sizes can tell us much about probable site use, economic status, and changes in settlement patterns. Regional patterns in site size distributions reveal some remarkable, overall similarities from area to area. For example, although, as will be seen, the Late Roman settlement pattern in the Argolid (AEP)1 was quite similar to the Classical-Hellenistic pattern, there are variations between the two periods with respect to site size hierarchies. For the Hellenistic period, site sizes are inversely related — the smaller the site, the larger the percent of sites. This seems to indicate that there were many quite small farmstead-type properties, with few larger centers. Economic and social opportunities that can be provided by hamlets, villages, and villas, which would be expected to fall most frequently in the middle ranges in size, were, therefore, less likely to have been available to Hellenistic rural Greeks. During the Late Roman period in the Argolid, there were slightly fewer sites (in absolute numbers and percentage of sites) in the 0.31-1.0 hectare size range than in the other size categories, and slightly more (both numbers and percent) in the smallest size range (approx. 39%, 14%, 21%, 25%, respectively). Many of the rural sites are situated near terrace walls and dams and must certainly have been farmsteads (see land use below). The fact that nearly half of the Late Roman sites were less that 1.0 hectares in size further suggests that small and medium farmsteads not only increased in number, but also had become quite common. This suggests that there was a wider variety of landholdings.

There were no sites over 5.1 hectares found by the Keos Survey (Keos), 3 except for Koressos (in the HL, ER and LR periods). Thus, sites are distributed among the other three size categories, but not equally. In all periods from Hellenistic to late Roman, most sites fall into the .31-1.0 hectare range. There is approximately the same proportion of larger and smaller sites in each period. The size of any site in any specific period is difficult to determine, since size estimates were computed from the surface distribution of artifacts of all periods. But, at Koressos, it is clear that the Late Roman remains are most probably restricted to an area of about three hectares, located underneath the southern part of the present town. The Classical period, is by far the best represented at Koressos, though the entire site measurement of over six hectares was used to delineate the for all periods. In the Classical period, the site had probably reached its maximum size of six hectares. On the Paximadhi peninsula, 4 in the early historical periods (C-LR), sites are concentrated at the lower end of the settlement hierarchy. About 50% of all sites fall into the lowest category. Because the dating of two of these sites remains uncertain, there is little convincing evidence at present for Early Roman farmsteads. For the Late Roman era, there were only six of the smallest sites, but they represent 46% of all Late Roman sites. The predominance of small sites may be due to marginal natural resources and the restricted nature of the area.

In the Late Roman period, the Nemea Valley (NVAP)2 saw a slight concentration of sites in the 1.1-5.0 hectare range, 1

Many thanks to M. Jameson and C. Runnels for their kindness in providing me with a an early copy of their book (1994), A Greek Countryside: The Southern Argolid from Prehistory to the Present Day, and for answering questions about their material. The Argolid data is derived from Jameson, Runnels and van Andel 1994; van Andel and Runnels 1987; Runnels and van Andel 1987; van Andel, Runnels and Pope 1986; also of interest are Murray and Kardulias 1986. 2 Most data was kindly supplied by the directors of the survey. J. Wright was the project director and J.F. Cherry, J.L. Davis and E. Mantzourani directed survey operations. Again, thanks are due to them. See, also, Wright et al. 1990; Alcock 1991; Cherry et al. 1988 and Cherry, Davis, Mantzourani and Wright 1985, “The Nemea Valley Archaeological Project, 1984,” AJA 89, p. 327 (abstract); Davis, Wright, Cherry and Mantzourani 1986, “The Nemea Valley Archaeological Project: 1985 Season Report,” AJA 90, pp. 204-205 (abstract).

Biers 1968, “Investigations at Phlius” unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania; Biers 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971a, 1971b, 1971c, 1973, 1975. Tzoungiza: e.g., J.C. Wright 1982, “Excavations at Tzoungiza (Archaia Nemea) 1981,” Hesp 51, pp. 375-397 and J. B. Rutter 1985, “Middle Helladic Pottery from Tzoungiza (Archaia Nemea): A Brief Report,” Hydra 1, pp. 34-37. 3 Also, many thanks to J. Davis, J. Cherry, and E. Mantzourani, for providing me with their data prior to its publication. For complete publication of this material see Cherry et al. 1992; Cherry and Davis 1983; Davis 1984, 1988a, 1991; Davis and Cherry 1989; Davis et al 1983. For a history of other archaeological studies undertaken on Keos, see Cherry et al. 1992: chap. 4 and the preface. 4 In some publications, this is called the Canadian Karystia Project. I have been involved in this project since 1986. The first volume of Southern Euboean Studies is in preparation, but preliminary reports are available. See Kosso 1989; Keller and Wallace 1986, 1987, 1988, forthcoming (1992/3); Keller and Cullen 1991. Overall assessments of the data have not yet been published. D. Keller and M. Wallace are the principle directors. R. Schneider a co-founder of SEEP, has helped direct museum work and has been invaluable to all who have worked with SEEP.

Extensive excavations have taken place in the region, at the Sanctuary of Zeus, the prehistoric site of Tsoungiza, as well as at Phlius. See Nemea: e.g., S. G. Miller 1988, 1990 and for other bibliography see Stillwell et al. 1976, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites; Princeton; for Phlius: W. K.


When cultivated, it is not surprising that the area would have been used by poorer farmers who leave smaller sites.

Table 3.3 Site Sizes (Where percents do not equal 100, some sites were without size data)

The Karystos Survey1 produced size data for the Karystian Basin that presents a similar picture to that found on the Paximadhi peninsula by SEEP. There is a tendency for the Hellenistic to Byzantine sites to cluster in the lower size ranges. Nearly 70% of the Roman sites were in the smallest category, 20% in the .31-1.0 hectare range, and the last 10% were divided between the two largest size ranges. The Roman landscape of the Karystian basin was apparently widely farmed by small-scale cultivators.


Site sizes were not a primary concern to the surveyors in the Megalopolis project,2 but sites apparently “varied in size” and many were viewed as “dispersed farmsteads.” The Hellenistic sites include concentrations of artifacts as large as 0.25 -1.0 hectare. These large sites are thought to represent “large rural homesteads,” rather than small towns or villages. The Roman period is relatively less well represented. Some Hellenistic findspots continued in use into the Early Roman period but most did not (there is definite Early Roman fineware at only two sites). “The evidence of the Field Survey therefore suggests that in the territory of Megalopolis isolated rural settlement began in the Hellenistic period to be limited to fewer homesteads, although these were fairly large. By the early Roman Empire, the decline was marked, with earlier homesteads going out of use and no new ones replacing them. Only under the later Empire was this trend reversed” (Roy et al. 1989, p. 150). Table 3.3 summarizes the site size data, showing the regional trend in Achaia toward small and medium sized independent Late Roman agricultural installations (a trend that was significantly reversed in the Early Byzantine era). Site Continuity Trends Trends in newly founded sites, compared to regional trends in general site continuity, can be used to suggest shifts in landholding, possibly land ownership and exploitation. In Aetolia,3 there was a decisive disruption of continuity of site use at the end of the Hellenistic period. Only one site (less that 5% of all Hellenistic sites) was inhabited into the Early Roman period. In contrast, all of the few Early Roman sites were reused in the Late Roman period. The HL-ER and ER-LR periods show distinctly different patterns of land exploitation. The Late Roman era shows a much higher percent of new sites than the Early Roman. Clearly one implication of the data is that there was

% in 0-.30

%in . 31- 1.0

% in 1.1-5.0

% in 5.1 +

52 42 31 41 0

25 30 0 14 0

14 0 0 22 0

5 14 66 25 0

11 12 0 0 0

36 0 0 16 33

47 56 0 52 33

5 31 100 33 33

15 11 16 25 28

22 11 0 13 33

11 33 0 25 11

19 11 32 37 22

15 23 22 13 0

64 45 50 28 0

23 34 28 26 0

3 12 0 0 0

54 50 48 28 0

8 0 10 0 100

7 17 12 20 0

7 16 7 15 0

renewed activity in the Late Roman countryside, and people were opening up (or reopening) new lands. There was investment in buildings, roads, bridges, and other improvements that had not been seen in the immediately preceding period. Whether this was because a new class of landowners had emerged has not been established, but evidence thus far supports the idea that there was a change in either landholding or exploitation patterns in this latter era. The Boiotian survey4 found that a high percentage of sites were continually in use from the Late Hellenistic into the


See Keller 1985. Donald Keller has been generous both with his time and data, and has located old notes, survey sheets, plans and memories. He has my enthusiastic gratitude. 2 For survey results see J. A. Lloyd, E.J. Owens and J. Roy 1985, pp. 217-224 and J. Roy, J.A. Lloyd and E.J. Owens 1989, pp. 149-150; AR 29 (1982/83), pp. 28-29; 30 ((1983/1984), pp. 2627; 1988 (unpublished report); Generally on Megalopolis: A. Peronotis 1973, ‘Η Μεγ°λη Πόλις τ±ς Αρκαδίας, Athens; and Kahrstedt 1954, pp. 136-148. 3 For survey results see Bommejlé and Doorn 1987.


The data are derived from the following reports: Snodgrass 1987; Bintliff 1985a, 1985b, 1991; Bintliff and Snodgrass 1985, 1988a, 1988b; AR 35 (1988/1989), pp. 44-46; and AR 36 (1989/1990), pp. 33-34; Also of interest see for inscriptions referring to land owners around Thespiae e.g., M. Feyel 1936, “Etudes d’épigraphique béotienne,” BCH 60, pp. 175-183, 389415; for a recent study of the towers of Classical Boeotia see Camp 1991; Kahrstedt 1954, pp. 86-100 on the Boeotian villas.


Early Roman period. Twenty-four, or about 33% of these Hellenistic sites, are used into Imperial times, despite an overall decline in site numbers during the Hellenistic period. Only twelve of these Early Roman sites continued in use into Late Roman times. As noted above, the big break in Boiotia comes at the Late Roman to Early Byzantine transition, where only one Roman site has produced evidence for occupation in the latter period. In Boiotia, as in the Southern Argolid, there was a dramatic increase in the number of new sites occupied in Late Roman times. Thirty-three new sites were established, slightly more than 60% of the Late Roman sites. The relatively high number of sites continually in use during the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods, coupled with the low number of new sites, shows some stability in landholding. On the other hand, few Early Roman sites remained occupied in the Late Roman period. That, coupled with a dramatic increase in new Late Roman sites, strongly suggests a change occurred either in land ownership or exploitation patterns.1

widespread, but with a visible shift eastward, away from Koressos towards the polis center of Ioulis. Although the Late Roman level of rural evidence surpassed that of the “remarkably retarded” Early Roman, the rate of rural habitation never equaled that of the Classical era (Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 17). The history of site continuity on the Paximadhi peninsula is similar to that seen elsewhere. Few Hellenistic sites continued to be used into the Early Roman period and no Early Roman sites were founded. On the other hand, the percentage of Early Roman sites that continued to be used into the Late Roman period is, quite high — between 45% and nearly 70%. Typically, there was a dramatic increase in the number of new sites occupied in the Late Roman era. No new Early Byzantine sites were established on the peninsula. Continuity of site use in the Karystian basin generally was notably higher from the Hellenistic to the Roman period than from the Roman to the Byzantine period. Thirteen Classical-Hellenistic sites were reused in the Roman period, while only five Roman sites were reused by the Byzantines.

In the Nemea valley, a higher percentage of sites continued in use between the Early Roman and Late Roman phase than between the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods, (35% to 27% respectively). However, the absolute numbers of sites are virtually the same — eight and seven. It is important to note that many new sites were founded in the Late Roman period. Twenty-one sites, nearly 70% of all the Late Roman sites, were new establishments, in contrast to the Early Roman period when only three sites (15%) were newly inhabited. No new seventh-ninth century Byzantine sites appear to have been founded. In Messenia (PRAP) 23 out of the 61 sites discovered (37%) show evidence of continuity from the Hellenistic to the Roman periods. However, when looking at finer distinctions from the Early Roman to the Late Roman periods, only 8 sites, or 13%,.are continuously occupied.

Preliminary results from the Laconia Survey2 can be summarized as follows. The Late Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods were characterized by small and apparently prosperous farmsteads that were dispersed throughout the countryside. Varieties of special purpose sites were found as well, such as shrines and quarries. From publication of the 1983 and 1984 evidence, some more specific generalizations about Roman settlement patterns can be made. Eighteen new “small” sites were established in the Roman period, along with five “medium” sites and one “large” site. Roman villas also have been recognized. There is evidence for an increase in small sites of the Classical and Hellenistic period, with seventy new small sites, twelve new medium sites, and two new large sites founded. Cavanagh and Crowell (1985/1986, p. 30) note that the “LR-ECHR” period saw a frequency of settlement comparable to the ClassicalHellenistic settlement, although that is not numerically reflected in the 1983-1984 data.

The survey region in Keos was a contiguous block of land in the northwest section of the island. Keos is heavily terraced today, and the modern population is concentrated in the north. In the Classical period, settlement surrounded the polis of Koressos. At the end of the Hellenistic era and in the Early Roman period, a distinct change occurred, in particular, a decrease in visible activity on the land. Only a few late Hellenistic to Early Roman artifacts were found in the territory of Koressos. Hellenistic sites on Keos with components of the Roman period number only eight, approximately 14% of all the HL sites. On the other hand, 55% of Early Roman sites survived into the Late Roman period. The Early Byzantine period is one of even more drastic change. Three new sites appear in early Imperial times. Sixteen sites were founded in the Late Roman period, 41% of the LR sites, an increase in both the absolute numbers as well as the percentage of sites. No Early Byzantine sites – new, used, or reused – were recognized. In the Late Roman period, settlements were

In two periods in Methana,3 there is evidence for an increase in the number of sites: the Hellenistic and the Late Roman. In both cases, sites were located in mountainous, more marginal terrain. There was the typical and severe 2

See AR 30 (1983/1984), pp. 27-28; 31 (1984/1985), pp. 24-25; 32 (1985/1986), pp. 30; 34 (1987/1988), pp. 26; 35 (1988/1989), pp. 37; 36 (1989/1990), pp. 21-22; also Cavanagh and Crowell 1988, “The Laconia Survey, 1983-1986,” Lakonikai Spoudai 9, pp. 77-88. For early excavations at Sparta, see Woodward 192325, 1925-1926; Traquire 1906-1906. For a survey of prehistoric Laconia, see Waterhouse and Hope-Simpson 1960. For more recent historical and archaeological treatments, see Spawforth 1978, 1980, 1984, 1985. Cartledge and Spawforth 1989 summarize and analyze the research on Hellenistic and Roman Sparta from this century. 3 The data can be found in, Mee, Gill, Forbes and Foxhall 1991, pp. 223-232; AR 31 (1984/1985), pp. 21-22, 32 (1985/1986), pp. 28, 33 (1986/1987), pp. 19-20, 34 (1987/1988), pp. 22-23; Foxhall 1990a, b.


At the present time, the urban survey data are still being evaluated, but the surveyors have noted an increase in Late Roman farms around Thespiae that should ultimately raise the total of Late Roman sites.


reduction in the number of sites in the early Imperial period. Thus, the survey of the Methana peninsula would appear to fit the pattern of an Early Roman contraction in rural settlement followed by a Late Roman rural revival. In the late Classical and Hellenistic periods, there had been a notable increase in the number of rural sites (probably farmsteads), but in the Early Roman period, many of these sites went out of use. Hellenistic sites were found in both mountainous regions and along the coasts. Other than the ancient city of Methana, and possibly the harbor at Vathy, only two sites were occupied in the Late Hellenistic-Early Roman period. Both sites are in the mountains. Beginning in the third century, rural sites, possibly farmsteads, began to increase. These sites were sometimes refounded on top of old Hellenistic sites. The expansion in settlement began slowly in the Middle Roman period, and continued and accelerated into the Late Roman period. Three new Middle Roman sites were settled on the coastal plain, north of Methana, another six in the mountains. Far more fineware pottery was found at the coastal sites. The mountain sites (e.g., MS 109 and MS 211; see below) produced rather abundant quantities of farm equipment, including olive presses and crushers, despite the fact that many of these farms were too high for olive trees to grow in their vicinity.1

The Roman period is relatively less well represented. Some Hellenistic findspots continued in use into the Early Roman period but most did not. There is definite Early Roman fineware at only two sites. “The evidence of the Field Survey therefore suggests that in the territory of Megalopolis isolated rural settlement began in the Hellenistic period to be limited to fewer homesteads, although these were fairly large. By the early Roman Empire, the decline was marked, with earlier homesteads going out of use and no new ones replacing them. Only under the later Empire was this trend reversed” (Roy et al. 1989, p. 150). Notably, there were no new sites discovered that were datable to the Early Imperial era. Clearly, this is in contradiction to Kahrstedt’s theory of villa development during the Early Roman period (c.f., Kahrstedt 1954). The early Empire retained only a remnant of the former isolated rural habitation pattern. Late Roman sites, though “rare”, were far more “numerous” than Early Roman. There seems to have been a revival of the dispersed and rural Classical pattern in the later period. The Skourta plain is an upland basin between the mountains of Parnes and Kitharion, on the border of Attica and Boeotia. By the fourth century BCE, increasing numbers of individual farmsteads ringed the Skourta Plain3 and twenty-seven sites are mentioned in this context (AR 36 (1989/90), pp. 35-36). The number of such small sites reached its height in third century BCE. Later in the Hellenistic period, there was a shift in settlement. Most of the “small” sites were abandoned, and Panakton was deserted by the end of the second century BCE. In the Late Hellenistic or Early Roman period, a series of “small hamlets” appeared on the northern edge of the plain (seven are mentioned). These hamlets were inhabited until the “Roman Imperial period.”

Sites continued to increase in number throughout the fourth and fifth centuries in both mountainous and coastal regions. Fineware pottery continued to be more common at the coastal sites (Mee et al. 1991, p. 226, fig. 3). As at Karystos, the Late Roman amphorae in Methana were imported from places relatively close within the region. For example, the survey recovered numerous Bernice LR amphorae fragments (possibly from the Argolid), but few other imports. In the sixth century, sites began to be abandoned. Some lasted until the end of the century, and a few even continued into the seventh century. (One of these long-lived sites was the villa of Khelona; see below.) Ancient Methana was inhabited into the seventh century.

The Late Roman evidence suggests a renewed interest in rural habitation. All the sites remained that had been occupied in the later Hellenistic period. In addition, there were at least 18 new Late Roman sites, consisting of both “farms and hamlets”. In the mid-sixth century, this “prosperity” ended, and almost no evidence was recognized for settlement during the seventh-ninth centuries. Despite the inexactness of the chronology, clearly the trends noted in other surveys are found here as well. Late Roman rural settlement increased in a manner similar to the patterns found during the Classical and early Hellenistic periods.

Megalopolian sites of the Archaic through Hellenistic periods are most numerous. At one large “Classical” site, Archaic to Late Roman fine and coarsewares and an undated pottery kiln were found.2 The distribution of the Classical-Hellenistic sites was said to be “striking” because settlements were on flat ground rather than in high and defensible positions. Generally, there was an increase in dispersed rural settlement in the Classical-Hellenistic era. Sites varied in size, but many are viewed as “dispersed farmsteads.” The Hellenistic sites include concentrations of artifacts as large as 0.25 -1.0 hectare. These large sites are thought to represent “large rural homesteads” rather than small towns or villages.

Table 3.4 illustrates province-wide stability in site use from the Early Roman to the Late Roman period, while also revealing a considerable interest in founding new agricultural sites throughout the rural landscape.


See Foxhall 1990b for an explanation of these trends. In part, she argues that these were tenant-run farms and the lands owned by the estates covered territory below the actual habitation. Produce from several areas would be brought to a ‘central’ location for processing. 2 Presumably, the Classical attribution resulted from a relative abundance from material of that period.


See AR 36 (1989/1990), pp. 35-36; Munn and ZimmermanMunn 1986a, 1986b, 1988.


bright, glossy, red ceramics are easily identified and their presence enables sites to be dated with relative precision. Nevertheless, the use of Late Roman imported finewares alone is an unsafe hallmark of elite estates. Clearly, the presence or absence of a single kind of artifact, such as Late Roman fineware, is not in itself an adequate criterion for the identification of elite residence. Philostratus, who described the wealth and residences of Damianus, provides evidence that a villa is not simply described by its elite goods:


percent continuity

percent new sites

2.5 25 35 53 0

πλούτου δÁ Ñπίδειξιν τ© ανδρà τουτz κακει…να ει…χεν: πρωτα… µενÒ γ πα…σα, Ôπόσιν εκεκτητο, Ñκπεφυτευµένη δενδρεσι καρπίµο† τε καà ¶σοι χειροποίητοι καà λιµένων προσχώσει† βεβαιο³σαι τοņ ôρµου† καταιρούσαι† τε καà αφιείσαι† ολκάσιν οÓκιαι τε εν ðστει πρόπον αÓ δÁ Ðντρώδει...(VS 23.606)

32.5 17 38 60 2.0 29 29 38 6.0

The wealth of Damianus was displayed also in what I shall describe. In the first place all the land that he had acquired was planted with trees, both to bear fruit and to give abundant shade. And for his estate by the sea-shore he made artificial islands and moles for harbours to secure safe anchorage for cargo-boats when they put in or set sail; then his residences in the suburbs were in some cases furnished like town houses while others were more like caverns.3

33 71 62

37 13 8

As also quoted in Chapter Two, the Institutes of Justinian likewise complicate the identification of “villas” through literary analysis:

14 23 25 23

Praediorum urbanorum sunt servitutes quae aedificiis inhaerent, ideo urbanorum praediorum dictae quoniam aedificia omnia urbana praedia appellantur, esti in villa aedificata sunt…(Institutes 2.3.1)

10 58 10 60 40 2.5

The servitudes of urban lands are those which pertain to buildings and so they get their name: for all buildings are called urban estates, even though they be built in the country… (trans. J. A. C. Thomas)

16 10

Elite sites and villas

A more complete definition of a ‘villa’ will need to be developed. Villas were usually thought to be residences for the elite, whether used seasonally or year round, and were often found in the countryside (Gregory 1984, p. 272; Percival 1987, p. 527, 1976, p. 159; Ramsden 1972, p. 517; Alcock 1989a, p. 113). However, many known Achaian agricultural villas had an urban orientation. This is clear from the Institutes quoted above, so they were often located near, and sometimes in, urban centers.4 As a corollary, many villa owners would have been townsmen.

A more complete land use profile can be drawn by including site function as a variable in the analysis. An increase in site size1 does not, for example, necessarily indicate the creation of rural villas or ‘large estates’. Such a change may reflect the development of small, nucleated communities. A method must be found to evaluate the nature of the size change. One way to proceed is to investigate the surface finds with greater care. For example, poor rural hamlets can be distinguished from wealthy estates by the existence of luxury goods (elite features). In this regard, it is fortunate that Late Roman pottery, particularly that imported from Africa, is quickly recognizable (e.g., “ARS” or African Red Slip).2 The

Late Roman Pottery, London and 1980, Supplement to Late Roman Pottery, London. There are extensive bibliographies in both. For earlier Roman pottery, see the work of Kathleen Slane 1980, 1986. 3 Following the translation by W. Wright, Loeb Classical Library. 4 The possible villas found in Southern Euboea are all within easy walking distance of Karystos, the polis of the region.


In this analysis, “small” sites range from 0-0.3 ha., “medium” from .31-1.0 ha. and “large” 1.1 ha. and above. 2 Late Roman imported wares have been intensively studied. The fundamental work on Late Roman finewares is J. W. Hayes 1972,


For the purposes of this study, villas, nevertheless, should include at least two of these features:1

Kahrstedt (1954, pp. 86-100) believed that large areas of Boiotia were in Imperial hands or were under the control of other large-scale estates. The Boiotia survey has produced some evidence in support of this theory. In Roman times the landholding pattern appears to have been less dispersed – there were fewer tiny sites than in the Classical pattern, and the sites that were reoccupied after the Hellenistic era were larger ones. Such a pattern might be expected when large estates had been formed. Several of these sites have elite elements that suggest they were elite Roman residences, perhaps associated with such estates. While these buildings may well have been elite residences, it is unclear that any of them can be dated to the Late Roman period.

1. An agricultural focus: the site should function as an agricultural production unit, whether or not there is the occasional industrial use of the site as well, e.g., pottery production. A villa can be either an urban or a rural residence. It need not be the main residence. 2. A relatively ‘large’ site: the size should be approximately 1.0 hectare, but there is no absolute size requirement. Many suggested villa sites have had no size data collected and some with elaborate elite remains are somewhat smaller.

Several of the large Roman sites in the Nemea valley may have been villas. Two of these have certain Late Roman remains. Site 704, a rich rural villa probably founded in the second century and used into the Late Roman period (R. Sutton, pers. comm.), was a large rural habitation with an associated bath complex. Tile and pottery, marble and other fine stone, were widespread. Some red slipped ware was found with coarse and plainwares. Site 7 also seems a good candidate for a villa. The nature of the artifacts found there suggests that it was an elite possession and that it served an agricultural function. Finds included mortar and masonry fragments, a millstone, and tile. The material is abundant and well preserved. At site 512 numerous artifacts were spread, because of modern plowing, over several modern fields, in extent approximately six hectares.

3. A level of material sophistication: for example, the site should contain luxury goods such as abundant fineware pottery, mosaics, painted plaster, marble (e.g., for columns or decoration or statuary), and/or baths (which are often associated with Roman villas). Both archaeology and texts provide evidence to help us recognize large, possibly elite estates. Both excavation and survey results2 point to an increase in the number of Late Roman rural villas compared to earlier and later periods in Greece. Kahrstedt was among the first to attempt systematically to identify villas in the Achaian landscape, but he considered virtually any large structure of brick to be a villa, and, since he dated the Roman period broadly from 31 BCE to CE 600 (1954, p. 31), his identification of villas is difficult for us to use. Excavations also provide evidence for villa structures. Recently, for example, a Late Roman “house” with at least eight rooms was excavated in the Antikyra region of Phokis, and its appointments suggest elite habitation (AR 36 (1989/1990), pp. 39-41). There is also help from documentary sources, since authors sometimes mention estates held by the Imperial government and the Christian Church. Table 3.5 below lists the evidence from the major survey projects for large estates and villas.

However, we should not draw the conclusion that agriculture in the Nemea area was equally dependent on large estates in both the Early Roman to Middle Roman and the Late Roman periods. “Small rural establishments” (Wright et al. 1990, pp. 610-611) that appear to have had an agricultural focus were present in the Late Roman landscape, but missing in the Early Roman/Middle Roman landscape. Late Roman amphorae, together with coarse and plain pottery, suggest that many of these functioned as farms, possibly permanently inhabited. With the data presently available, only one site clearly can be associated with villa-like attributes for the PRAP survey. There is a Late Roman villa at Dialiskari on the Messenian coast. This site was carefully surveyed and then subjected to state of the art electronic mapping with the use of “TotalStation,” which allowed the surveyors to make a more accurate site plan (Stone and Kampke in Davis 1998, pp. 192-198). Like the sites in the Nemea area, this estate clearly controlled a great deal of territory, had some agricultural functions, and probably a fish-pond, salt pan, and a quarry.

Following criteria discussed above (e.g., the presence of marble columns — or parts thereof — ashlar blocks, fineware pottery), five AEP sites can be identified as villas or sites with possible elite use. Three, perhaps four, of these sites were used in Late Roman times, two possibly in Early Roman, and one is not closely dated. In most of these examples the material evidence of elite use is clear. At Halieis, for instance, there is a large private structure that includes a bath. Evidently, the owner or inhabitant was prepared to make large expenditures to ensure comfort (whether he/she lived there year round or seasonally). At Hermione, there are mosaics in an elaborate peristyle home. 1

These criteria are derived from Percival 1976, pp. 13-16, 1987, pp. 527-528; Alcock 1989a, pp. 112-113; Lukermann and Moody 1978, p. 99; Kahane et al. 1968, pp. 153-158; Barker et al. 1978, pp. 41-42; Dyson 1978; Chapman et al. 1987, p. 138. 2 As examples of excavation results see esp., Akerström-Hougen 1974 and Frantz 1988, p. 49, where villas and baths are scattered around the outskirts of the Athenian acropolis.


Table 3.5 Large Estates, Villas And Elite Sites Site AEP:1 E57 F3




0.9 0.65

Column base; limestone blocks. Tower; some fineware pottery.

Phoukaria Galatas

(ER), (MR) (HL), (ER), (MR), (LR) LR R




LR (late cent.)

BOIOTIA Kreusis Thisbe

R, (LR) R

Siphai Haliartos



“Villa” (Jameson et al. 1994, chap.2; Frost 1977, 1980, p. 186). No size given. Villa?; Brick building with mosaics. (Kahrstedt 1954, p. 185; Alcock 1989a, p. 115). Villa complex with bath. (Jameson 1969, p. 339; Boyd and Rudolf 1978, p. 334; Alcock 1989a, p. 115). Peristyle house with mosaics period (Spiro, 1978, p. 172; Sodini 1970, p. 790793; Ellis 1988, p. 565).2 ‘Roman building’. (Kahrstedt 1954, p. 96, n.6). Rich Roman habitation, with mosaic floors. BCH 44 (1920), pp. 387-8; Kahrstedt 1954, p. 103; Alcock, 1989a, p. 116). Building? with tessellated paving, (Fossey 1976, p. 219; Alcock 1989a, p. 116). Hypocaustal room; four rooms with R material a public or private facility? (AR 35 [1988/1989] 44-46).

NVAP 7 501 512

4.5 3.6 6.0





904 PRAP Dialiskari



Mortar and masonry, drain pipes, red slipped fine- wares, millstone. Argive imports; glass; finewares. Cut stone blocks, abundant pottery includes various imported red slipped wares (e.g., Candarli ware) and storage vessels and tiles. Villa and bath complex; marble (=EB? (white) revetments, porphyry and lapis lacedaimonius, sculpture (animal and human forms), drain pipes, and red slipped wares, including ARS. Tower; habitation; abundant fineware.


Villa and bath complex; marble columns, mosaics, red slipped wares, glass, inscriptions.

Collapsed bldg., LR fineware includes Hayes Forms 3E (CE 500) and ARS (CE3rd cent.or later). Hayes Form 59 (ARS, 350-400); PRS, Form 3; terracing; column pieces (undated) built into nearby chapel; rock cut steps. Marble capitals and columns (undated); modern bldgs.; worked marble blocks; LR combed wares. Roughly chiselled blocks; LR lamp frr. PRS wares. Tower, millstone, lg. blocks, trimmed bedrock. Various LR finewares include CE 3rd-4th cent. Athenian painted ware; ARS; Hayes PRS Form 5 (5-6th cent.). Tower?,ancient walling, limestone blocks, column drum (undated), abundant LR fineware including; Hayes Forms 3 (400-550); 10b/10c (6-7th cent.); 53b/91; 61a; 68?; 105; 4th cent. Athenian plate; ARS Form 67; Form 2. Marble ‘architectural ornaments’ (dated “Late Roman and Paleochristian”?); Hayes Forms 3, 53b, 99, 4, PRS 10 (3-6th cent.); tile; fountain. Millstone, Hayes Form 59 (CE 350-400); PRS 10A; tiles. Hayes Forms 103/110; PRS 10A 10B (CE 6-7th cent.); deep bowl (CE 4-5th cent.); tiles. “Various LR finewares” include Hayes Forms 14 (ARS, 2-3rd cent.); 103 (ARS, 5-early 6th cent.); 3 (PRS, 5th cent.); tiles. Dense pottery includes Hayes Form 3F (500-550); 4th cent. ARS; beehive frr. Millstones, lg. schist blocks (not dressed); Hayes Forms 10b, 99c or 80/90, 104c (6-7th cent.) 105, PRS 3 (5th cent.), 10a (late 6th cent.). Quern (date?); Hayes Forms 67, 82, 59/67, PRS 3, 3b (4-6th cent.).


KEOS Finewares and architecture 14





HL, ER, (LR)




29 43

0.9 0.6

(HL), LR (ER), LR, (MB)



(ER), LR, (MB)



(ER), LR, MB

25 31

1.0 0.54




51 55

0.7 0.5

(HL), ER, LR, (MB) HL, LR, MB HL, LR, MB





(HL), ER, LR, MB LR, (EB), MB

Millstone; 5th cent. basin; Hayes 10b (6th-early 7th cent.).


Not all elite sites in the Argolid were identified by the latest surveyors, and when others have made the attribution, it is noted as a reference in the table. Parenthesis around the date attribution indicates uncertainty. 2 Outside the survey area, but also of interest, is the House of the Falconer in Argos. This is the latest known aristocratic peristyle house known to have been built in this province of the Eastern Empire. It dates to ca. CE 530-550. On the house see G. Akerström-Hougen 1974.




(MR), LR, MB






HL, R, (LR), (B)



LR, (EB) (MB)


0.09 0.5

R, (B) R, B



HL, R, B

62 67


(HL), R, B R, (B)



HL, R, B

Byz. chapel; tile, grinding stone,Roman marble Ionic column capital reused as a Christian grave marker; cut blocks; extensive wall remains; Roman fineware pottery includes possible worn ARS.b Olive crushing stone; cut sandstone blocks; extensive wall remains; threshing floor; R finewares include Hayes Forms 3, 3e, 4, ARS (5th cent.), 105 (CE 580660) and LRC. Glass; tile; olive press (dated HL); fineware pottery, ARS and LRC and includes rouletted R wares from the late CE 6th cent. Sandstone blocks; large rough-hewn stones; probable threshing floors; extensive wall remains; Some R red glazed pottery; coins. Marble and sandstone blocks; R glazed wares. “Large farming estate or villa”; cut bedrock; floor tiles; mortared walls; marble Ionic column frr.; cut blocks; Roman red glazed wares; combed ware amphorae. “Byz settlement”; Tower, reused marble in settlement bldgs; millstone frr; HL marble basin stand; R glazed wares. Reused tile, marble, and sandstone blocks in Byz chapel. Villa; hypocaust tiles; sandstone and limestone blocks; imported conglomerate stone; Roman glazed wares. “Byz settlement” with chapel: sandstone blocks; HL and R glazed wares.

The Keos survey has published a complete catalogue of finds from sites. This has enabled the compilation of a long list of possible elite sites based on the criteria discussed earlier (Table 3.5). Of the Keos elite sites listed above, only six have the remains of architecture preserved. Out of these, five have yielded good evidence for Late Roman habitation, and another was possibly a Late Roman habitation. Only two sites of these were certainly used in the Early Roman period. In fact, out of the fourteen sites, all (certain 13/possible 1) have certain or possible Late Imperial occupation, while only seven have certain or possible (certain 4/possible 3) Early Roman habitation. The earlier Imperial period, traditionally described as one of elite control of the landscape, actually had less evidence for elite landholdings than in the Late Roman era. This may, of course, indicate that each Early Roman estate held larger tracts of land. It should also be noted that site sizes fluctuate widely from 0.05 - 2.0 hectares in extent. Regardless, even if we were to eliminate from consideration the smallest sites (#’s 56, 27) and those with the fewest elite artifacts (#’s 25, 29, 31 and perhaps 62) as possible villas or elite possessions, Late Roman elite activity remains represented in northwest Keos.

chapel and then, nearby, a modern chapel (note the Byzantine column base at the front left of the photograph).

Photo 3.3: Modern Chapel (photo by author). Note column fragment at lower left in photo (LR or Early BYZ in date) Ceramics are abundant, storage vessels in particular (see site # 86B2). There are several larger ashlar blocks of local stone, extensive remains of other walls, and a white marble Ionic column capital that was reused as a grave marker. At site 86C10 near the center of the peninsula, there is a building with seven identifiable rooms and several smaller associated structures, including a spring and a threshing floor. A millstone was also found at the site. The land around has been terraced, but the terraces are no longer in use. Excellent examples of Late Roman fineware came from this site (e.g. Hayes Forms 1, 3E and H, 10, 48, 99) .

Of particular interest is the central west portion of the Karystian basin, known as the Kourmali region, where an extensive Classical to Hellenistic settlement has been found. In the same region, but further to the south, a Roman estate was settled. The Roman site does not appear to have been a community as the earlier settlement had been, but is more likely to have been a large, independent estate. Several other larger settlements are also likely to have been the property of elite owners (Table 3.5).1 Two of these are eastern coastal sites, and another is located on the northern edge of the survey area (Figures 36-38). A Roman estate of some size was eventually replaced by a Byzantine

Figure 3.1 below depicts the possible SEEP villa sites with fineware pottery types present. The presence of tiles (strengthening the suggestion of habitation) is added in the figure.


It is interesting that the four sites are nearly as distant from one another as it is possible to be on the peninsula.


Figure 3.1: Site plan with chapel and Roman remains include cut blocks, double faced wall and block wall. Quarry for blocks to SE.

Figure 3.2: SEEP fineware pottery, tiles and possible villas/estates


Photo 3.4: Euboea, Roman period millstone at 86C10 (photo by author) Red glazed ware was found at site C33, a possible villa site, as well as a coin, cut blocks, several threshing floors (undated), and extensive wall remains. The blocks were atypically small, suggesting reuse from larger blocks. Because the walls were fragmentary and a modern road had been built over them, the building(s) to which they belonged could not be planned accurately. Nevertheless, the structure appears to have been as large, or even larger than that found at 86C10.

suggests that these remains belonged to a private facility rather than a public bath. Only two sites have been identified as Roman villae rusticae in the Methana survey. One was certainly used in the Late Roman period (Foxhall 1990b). In addition, two Roman farmsteads were in continuous use from the Early Roman/Middle Roman period into the Late Roman period. Site MS109, a remote site (at 500 masl.) with remains of the walls that were well constructed of ashlar blocks, was occupied in the second through sixth centuries. Roof tile was found in association with the building, which was located in an area well suited to viticulture and cereal cultivation. The farm had remains of an olive press and other relatively expensive farm tools. MS211 is a similar site in a remote location 700 masl. It was occupied from the first-sixth centuries and has extensive architectural remains including a cistern and roof tiles. Despite the high quality equipment (e.g., press equipment), the pottery was poor and few finewares were recorded. These characteristics—remote location, expensive tools, and few finewares—led to the suggestion that these may have been tenant-run farms rather than independent farmsteads (Foxhall 1990b, and see below chapter five).

Several large habitation sites were found in the Karystian basin during the earlier survey by Dr. Keller (excluding the Paximadhi peninsula). Two of these sites (# 61 and 117) were considered by Keller to be primarily Byzantine settlements, but we now know that they had evidence of Roman finewares. Site 53 clearly served an agricultural purpose, and cut stone slabs, some of marble, were found there. Remains of a single building may have belonged to a chapel without an apse. Roman pottery was present but cannot be more closely dated. Site 55 was certainly an agricultural estate and almost certainly was used in Late Roman times. Combedware amphorae, marble architectural members, pieces of column, and roof tiles were found at this site. Keller remarked that “the remains seem almost too substantial and rich to be a single farm, but there are no other Roman remains in the area” (Keller 1985, p. 114).1 Site 55 is among the best villa candidates in the region. Site 67 is located at the northeast edge of the fertile Karystian plain, but is not well preserved. Hypocaustal tiles, fine, plain, and coarseware pottery, as well as column drums and abundant roof tiles, suggested an extensive and well-appointed farming estate with a bath had been located here. Blocks cut from an imported conglomerate stone were recognized. The fact that there was evidence for no other Roman buildings in the area

Evidence from extensive surveys should be used to construct a fuller picture of land use patterns in Achaia. The same issues will be addressed with respect to extensive as were considered for intensive survey; these include long-term settlement patterns, site continuity, site size, site function, and land use patterns, although few of the extensive archaeological projects provide as detailed data as the intensive survey projects. Extensive survey, it will be remembered, tends to focus on larger settlements and larger survey areas. It is most useful because of its ability to cover vast expanses of land. The graph below measures the mean percentage of sites continuously in use over the two critical transitions (Figure 3.2).


That is, Keller found no other Roman period sites nearby, suggesting to him that site 55 was not a small hamlet or village, but was held and inhabited by an individual.


Figure 3.3: Site continuity, intensive and extensive surveys.

incidence at the Roman to Byzantine transition. An exception to the rule was Phokis, where only the highest order settlements were investigated.

Table 3.6 presents unquantifiable results. The intensive survey data shows a trend of low continuity in site use at the Hellenistic to Early Roman (or Roman) transition. There is high continuity at the Early Roman to Late Roman transition. The Melos intensive survey has been added here as a comparison of the Achaian data. The island was in the Roman province of the Insulae and generally follows the pattern of the intensive surveys in Achaia.

Site functions The Early Byzantine period in all regions was characterized by striking discontinuity of settlement. All archaeological indications are that there was a move away from dispersed settlement, perhaps toward fewer nucleated communities. Thus, only during the Late Roman Empire was there a regional trend of high continuity accompanied by a dramatic increase in site numbers. For most areas, Late Roman sites under 1.0 hectare predominate, while the Early Roman pattern is one of fewer small sites. The Classical period also exhibits the same pattern of site sizes. Only the extensive Messenia survey has produced divergent data, understandable given its concentration on larger sites.

Table 3.6 Continuity And New Sites: Unquantifiable Region Laconia Methana Megalopolis Skourta Plain Phokis

HL-ER -low low low

ER-LR --high? high

new ER --few some

new LR -many many many





Among the larger, possibly elite sites found by intensive surveys, 39.5% may be new Late Roman establishments.1 Extensive surveys also testify to the existence of numerous wealthy residences, although these cannot be closely dated. The estate attributions are not secure in all cases. Cherry, Davis, and Mantzourani argue that no sites on Keos have evidence of elite features “even if loosely defined as ‘a large establishment with signs of luxury goods or accessories” (1992; chap. 17). Yet, six sites did yield finewares and marble architectural remains. Some of these elite sites, as well as many of the smaller agricultural sites were founded in hitherto unused lands. It has been argued that the exploitation of new lands is one of the least socially disruptive ways to increase production (Jameson 1977/1978, p. 128; Renfrew 1982a, pp. 268-69; Barlett 1980, p. 554; Grigg 1976, p. 149; Alcock 1989a, p. 123). There is a distinct pattern of expansion onto new

Figure 3.4: Summary of small sites in Achaia and on Melos Fewer new sites were established in the earlier Imperial period than in the later. Evidence from the extensive surveys indicates a moderate incidence of continuity over the Hellenistic to Roman transition and a relatively low


New = nine sites or 21%; possibly new = eight sites or 19%.


Figure 3.5: Approximate areas of increased Late Roman rural activity from survey data. Blank areas are unsurveyed, or the data is unavailable. lands and an increased investment of time, labor, and money at all levels of the settlement hierarchy. Terracing, farm buildings, and equipment, habitations, villas, large and small estates, hamlets, and villages all are attested in the Late Roman countryside.

analysis, the results of only three could be taken to suggest a reduction or no change in late Imperial settlement activity – namely: UMME, Lokris, and Aetolia. Moreover, in all cases, the extensive surveys concentrated only on the upper end of the settlement hierarchy so that their data does not necessarily reflect the activities of the smaller farmers, and the Late Roman period was rarely explicitly distinguished from Roman.

Since not all rural sites were farmsteads or villas, the presence or absence of other site types will provide an indication of whether or not habitation in cities was desirable. In such cases we should expect to find more and a wider array of special purpose sites. Thus, one measure of the dependence or independence of the countryside will be the existence of special-use sites. The scarcity of specialty sites in the Hellenistic and Early Roman period strongly contrasts with the Late Roman period, when there seems to have been a general increase in the functional diversity of sites. Such a pattern suggests a decreased social and economic dependence on the urban centers (see chapter four).

Both the Early Roman and Early Byzantine eras seem to have been characterized by smaller numbers of larger sites. Both periods can be characterized by an “overall rejection of isolated, highly dispersed residence” (Alcock 1989a, p. 149). The opposite is clearly the case under the Late Empire. We have seen that there is reason to believe that there was increased residence on the land as well as an increased investment in the land, exemplified by a greater willingness to expend resources of special purpose sites, which provide access to social, religious, and economic goods without recourse to central places. These changes in settlement and land use, show the ability of archaeological survey generally to measure shifts in urban and rural habitation patterns.

Our understanding of the patterns of Late Roman settlement in Achaia appears to be greatly influenced by the method by which the evidence was collected. Figure 3.4 indicates those areas of Achaia in which there was an increase and those in which there was a decrease in Late Roman rural activity in comparison to earlier Roman periods. The intensive surveys recorded an increase in Late Roman rural habitation, while the extensive surveys hinted at a decrease in Roman settlement.1 The Phokis and Nichoria: Five Rivers extensive surveys produced some evidence of an increase in settlement in the Late Roman period. Of the twenty regional projects considered in this

Urban and sacred or special landscapes Urban survey (i.e., the survey of ancient cities) is one of the newest and most taxing aspects of surface survey, but it is beginning to provide an abundance of information. Because ancient cities often are covered by modern urban centers, they can be quite difficult to study, though several regional archaeological projects have surveyed polis


The intensive survey of Melos produced evidence for the same trends on an island in the Late Roman province of the Insulae.


fortification walls enclosed only a fraction of the Classical city.1

centers in their research areas. The Boiotia project, for example, systematically surveyed the ancient cities of Askra, Haliartos, and Thespiae (Bintliff and Snodgrass 1988; 1985), and the Nemea survey mounted an intensive survey of the small polis center of Phlius (Alcock 1991). PRAP has surveyed around several small villages and has located a number of ancient settlements of considerable size. Presently parts of the polis of Karystos are undergoing renewed survey. Other surveyed urban centers include Koressos on Keos (Cherry et al. 1992), Melos (Renfrew and Wagstaff 1982), Hermione, and Halieis in the Argolid (van Andel and Runnels 1987). Because Achaian regional studies provide both urban and rural data, we will be able to address crucial questions concerning the effects of Late Roman public policy on all levels of the settlement hierarchy.

Urban sites Examples of a general pattern preponderate the Late Roman data. Cities move slightly from their Classical and Hellenistic location and are surrounded by a greater number and variety of rural sites. In the Argolid, for example, Early Roman sites are sparsely recorded and tended to cluster near the urban center of, Hermione. In the Late Roman period, sites proliferated and are located further from the center. At least ten of these distant sites are large — in the five hectares or above range. These larger sites suggest the formation of small villages and/or large agricultural estates that provided some of the services of a city. Therefore, larger towns no longer dominated the settlement pattern.2

Studies of urban centers clearly show that urbanism was a cyclic phenomenon during which cities grew and shrank. Now, of course, urban centers are the dominant form of social organization. In the past, city dwellers were fewer in number than rural residents. Nevertheless, despite the relatively low level of urban population, cities had a more profound impact on society than one might expect from their proportional size. Settlements usually termed urban centers have a wide variety of physical structures, for example, with the desirable housing, religious, civic structures, and businesses towards the center. Temples and government buildings typically appeared as cities grew in complexity. New inventions and developments, including writing, better irrigation, and iron, encouraged settlements to expand. In antiquity, cities such as Rome could house populations of about 1 million inhabitants.

The town of Hermione has been the subject of only a few published excavations (the most complete physical description of monuments remains Pausanias, 2.34.9f). From excavation data, it is clear that the Roman town occupied the western section of the peninsula on which modern Hermione is located. It is not clear, however, whether the Roman town was circumscribed by Classical wall circuit, and the datable remains of the wall that still stand appear to be of Classical to Hellenistic (not Roman) date. The town had shifted its location and, by the second century of the modern era, some of the Classical sacred places were in disrepair (Jameson et al.,1994, appendix E). The Roman town had an active civic and religious life that probably continued into the seventh century. A basilica with several annexes was constructed in the fifth century. Two fine homes with mosaic floors (see villas, chapter

Urban survey is necessary, even if difficult, for unless we possess information about changes, or waxing and waning of ancient urban centers, changes in the rural hinterlands will be inexplicable. For example, the phenomenon of cyclical dispersion and nucleation cannot be understood without evidence from urban centers. Should urban centers be reduced in size, or completely abandoned at the same time as smaller rural habitations were deserted, then obviously it is unlikely that the rural population simply migrated from the countryside into the cities. If, on the other hand, we find the countryside empty while urban areas increase in size, it is more likely that the rural population moved from a more dispersed to a more nucleated residential pattern (Bintliff and Snodgrass 1988; Alcock 1991).


Athens and Corinth, of course, have also been extensively excavated. The patterns of Late Roman use there conforms to the general picture offered by survey: a change in function of the urban center accompanied by some Late Roman rural revival. For example, in Athens, major changes in civic functions began to occur as early as the third century, with the re-conversion of the acropolis into a fortress. The so-called Beulé gate of this encientè was constructed entirely from materials reused after the Herulian invasions (Gregory 1982a, pp. 16-18; Dinsmoor 1950, pp. 286, 238). The Late Roman city walls were much smaller than the Themistoclean circuit and excluded the ancient agora entirely. Several important monuments in the agora went out of use early in the fourth century, including the Tholos and the Metroön (Frantz 1988, p. 25). By the sixth century, the agora had become a residential area, market and civic activities having been transferred to the Roman agora. Nevertheless, the fourth through fifth centuries were prosperous centuries for Athens. Baths and villas were scattered around the outskirts of the acropolis (Frantz 1988, pp. 49, 57; Castrén 1989, pp. 45-50). Fowden also argues that Athenian economic recovery (1988, p. 55) and mining activity around Athens was revived in the fifth and sixth centuries. 2 Jameson and Runnels have suggested that the Late Roman residents of the Southern Argolid shifted their pattern of settlement in response to an increased demand for goods in the east (especially Constantinople), which promoted exploitation of rural resources for export (Jameson and Runnels 1994, esp, chap. 6). This theory will be considered in greater detail later.

Repeatedly, those surveys that have studied polis centers have provided evidence for an active and flourishing Late Roman urban civic and rural life. There were clear changes. The civic center itself generally moved in Roman times from its Classical-Hellenistic center to a new Roman center (e.g., at Hermione, Phlius, Koressos, probably Karystos, Akra Sophia, and Sparta). Moreover, the function of these urban centers changed. Often the older acropolis or agora no longer functioned as the religious focus of the community; frequently, the Late Roman


three, above) have been excavated and provide evidence for private, urban wealth. In the Late Roman period, there was also some renewed occupation of parts of the eastern segment of the peninsula. Evidence for the growth of the Late Roman city along with evidence for increased rural settlement suggests that there was a population increase in the Southern Argolid in Late Roman times.

in the central and eastern sections of the site. The total size of the site appears to have been about the same in the two periods, with a shift in the area most heavily used. The agora of Phlius went out of use in the Late Roman era (Biers 1971a-c, 1973, 1975).4 The stability in the size of Phlius during the Early and Late Roman periods finds its parallel in the Nemea Valley, where the number of special places also remained stable.

The Boiotia survey investigated three urban areas: Haliartos, Askra, and Thespiae. Haliartos, located on the south shore of lake Kopais, reached its largest extent in the Classical period. The town was destroyed in 171 BCE, when the pottery sequence breaks off and does not resume until the Late Roman era.1 Even then, settlement was not dense and was located in the southeast corner of the old town. Thus, like rural areas in Boiotia, some urban areas were repopulated in the late Imperial period, but these did not necessarily exhibit urban functions. Askra, in the western region of the survey, also experienced the local Late Roman revival. Like Haliartos, the city had retrenched, but material evidence did not disappear completely during the Earlier Imperial periods. The Late Roman town, moreover, was an urban center. By the Late Roman period, it had temporarily regained its Classical size. Askra seems to have been completely abandoned during the seventh century.

It is especially interesting that the general pattern of dispersion of settlement into the late antique landscape of Nemea occurred while this neighboring polis of Phlius remained stable in size. An increase in Late Roman settlement numbers and sizes was also observed in the Nemea Valley, but these apparently did not flourish at the expense of Phlius. The Classical to Early Byzantine sites of all periods cluster to the south of Old Nemea. This suggests some connection to the Argolid5 located to the south. In fact, many of the sites are near the natural southern route through the Tretos Pass and the pass to the south of Phlius. It is a six-hour long, but easy walk to Argos. Many Late Roman sites also take advantage of the proximately to these routes, though a number of sites tends to ring the fertile Nemea valley itself, and there is a handful to the southwest with easy access to the Phliasian plain.

Thespiae held extensive territory in ancient times and played an important historical role. The area of the Classical city was quite large, covering a greater extent than its Late Roman fortifications. A period of settlement shrinkage began in the Hellenistic-Early Roman era. At that time, there was no increase in rural activity immediately surrounding the city.2 Thespiae did undergo a period of dramatic recovery from the fourth-late sixth centuries, particularly in the northern segments of the town. Fortifications built in late Imperial times were comparatively limited in spatial extent and would only have provided shelter for a relatively small population; but there was dense resettlement of the rural suburbs of the town. A ring of Late Roman farmsites surrounding the urban center have been located — many of these are at a distance of only a few hundred meters.

On the island of Keos, nearly all of the territory of the Classical polis of Koressos lay within the northern Keos survey area. Keos provides a textbook example of the process of synoecism, the condensing of several city-states into one. It is a misfortune for this analysis that the synoecism favored the polis of Ioulis, rather than Koressos. Only a little of the territory of Ioulis and none of the polis center itself was surveyed. Sometime in the Late Roman or Byzantine periods, Ioulis also acquired the territory of another island center, Karthaia, further increasing Ioulis’ importance (Cherry et al. 1992, chaps. 18 and 22). Koressos, as already noted, was primarily occupied during the Classical period. The transfer of political power to Ioulis seems to have been reflected in the distribution of rural material sites in northwest Keos; in the Roman period, the density of Roman pottery decreases with distance from Ioulis, rather than Koressos. Generally, the results of the Keos survey suggest a Late Roman resurgence of rural and urban habitation.

The Nemea valley itself never seems to have had a major political center, and in historical times, the area generally was controlled by external major centers, such as Argos to the south. The main market center for the Nemea Valley was probably at Phlius.3 Early Roman Phlius was a flourishing small city. Survey has recorded high densities of Roman artifacts especially in the southwestern sector of the town near the Agora. In the Late Roman period, there was an even greater concentration of material on the southwestern edge of the site but somewhat fewer artifacts

Karystos, on Euboea, is one of the urban centers that appears on the Peutinger Table and in Hierocles (Appendix B). It appears to have been an important node on Imperial post and trade routes. But like many other polis centers in Greece, Karystos tended to shift its location through time. 4

It is also worth noting that though there are substantial traces of the fourth-century fortification walls, there is no evidence for an abbreviation of the earlier Classical circuit (S. Alcock, pers. comm.). 5 The emperor Julian wrote a letter on behalf of the Argives in which he remarks that the Argos controlled and financed the Nemean games (Ep. 28. 408 B-C). Presumably, therefore, the connection between the Nemean valley and Argos was strong at that time (CE fourth cent.). See also Miller (1990) a discussion of Argive control of Nemea.


C.f. AR 35 (1988/1989), pp. 44-46. At Haliartos, four rooms with “Roman” material were excavated and part of a “Roman” hypocaustal room was also excavated. 2 Reasonably taken to suggest a period of Early Roman depopulation for the region by Alcock 1989a, pp. 146-147. 3 For a detailed description of the results of the survey at Phlius, see Alcock 1991.


Archaic Karystos was probably located near Plakari, about five or six kilometers distant from the likely Classical and Hellenistic site. The abundance of Classical fine and coarsewares, as well as ancient building remains around the abandoned Frankish castle, have led me to believe that Classical-Hellenistic period Karystos was close to this natural acropolis, though further survey is required to confirm this. Throughout Classical antiquity, the main harbor was located across the Bouros peninsula at Geraistos, a suitable stopover for ships passing by the Karystia from, for example, the Black sea to Athens. Geraistos has a good, deep bay, well sheltered from the winds at Karystos that can make walking a chore, and would have made docking impossible before the construction of the modern spit. Marmari, on the other hand, for much of the Roman period, must have been the normal port for contact between Attica and the Karystia for export of marble (M. Wallace, pers. comm.). There is not a trace of port facilities or any architectural evidence for habitation near the modern port of Karystos. Sherds and column fragments have been found in the periodic dredgings of the bay, but such finds are consonant with occasional use of the bay as a port (M. Wallace 1972, p. 78; Keller 1985, p. 225).

Late Roman materials are used in the construction of the main buildings, including the chapel. Karystos fits the pattern marked elsewhere in Late Roman Greece of heavy rural use and slow changes in the use and position of the urban center. In addition, Late Roman and Byzantine times experienced the development of patterns of secondorder centers of a type not seen in the Classical and Hellenistic periods. A similar pattern has been observed in the Argolid, where there was an emergence of small villages in Late Roman and Byzantine times. In Laconia, the relationship of rural sites to the town of Sparta has not yet been clarified. Cartledge and Spawforth (1989) have offered some descriptions of changes in Late Roman Sparta and its region. They note that by the fifth century “pagan” Sparta had disappeared. There was Christian building activity, but it took place at some distance from the old civic center. That Sparta remained relatively wealthy throughout the Roman period is clear, because it was able to “support” two senatorial families (one of only two cities in Achaia to do so). Sparta, then, resembled Phlius and Karystos in its apparent economic stability as well as in the shift of its civic center. Furthermore, small Roman farms tended “to cluster closely at the bottom of the valleys and along the natural lines of communication” to the city (Cartledge and Spawforth 1989, p. 170). Roman Sparta, thus, appears to have maintained its role as the regional exchange center and Lacedaimon is attested as a city in the Synekdemos — a confirmation of its relatively high status in the region.

The Hellenistic period at Karystos witnessed a slow growth in prosperity that continued into the Roman period. The city remained as large and economically healthy throughout the Roman period as in the Hellenistic period, despite Roman period shifts in the focus of settlement1 as the town expanded south and west, primarily toward modern Alamanaïka (near the villa site 67) and the fertile Karystian plain. Late and post Roman buildings in the area made much use of materials from ancient Karystos. Most prominent among them is the small Frankish fortress on the bay that incorporates part of a Roman period, secondcentury Ionic temple (possibly dedicated to a harbor deity). Ancient blocks, sarcophagi, inscriptions, columns, and capitals are built into many other modern, Turkish, Byzantine, and Late Roman constructions.2

In the second century, Pausanias (8.26 ff) described Megalopolis as very depressed. The beauties of the city had vanished; perhaps worse, the small communities that had surrounded it were also in decline. Prior to the Megalopolis Field Survey, Kahrstedt3 had suggested that the city of Megalopolis had declined by the Early Roman period, and that urban land had been transferred from peasant ownership into the hands of three large landowners (he identified three villas as possible possessions of Spartan, Italian or Imperial owners). The findings of the Megalopolis Survey are not entirely consistent with his interpretation of the material remains. Evidence for two of the villas is plausible, but the other attribution is made solely on the basis of a piece of poorly dated marble.

It is unusual that there is only little variation in the distance from Roman and Byzantine sites to the city center of Karystos. There is a slight increase that occurred between the Hellenistic and Early Roman period. This is precisely the opposite pattern detected in most other regions (see above: e.g., the Southern Argolid and Nemea). The distance is, however, less than 1.0 km and, therefore, probably not significant. Byzantine sites are very slightly closer to Karystos than in the Roman period. In all cases, Karystos remained within easy walking distance — of no more than three hours.

A systematic survey of Kenchrai, a port of ancient Corinth, was directed by T. Gregory in 1980. The area surveyed lay to the north of the excavations and at the edge of the urban area. This urban survey produced interesting ceramic density information, in which Roman and Late Roman artifacts predominate in the surveyed area of the port city, and Byzantine artifacts outnumber Classical. Late Roman artifacts constitute nearly 50% of all ceramic evidence collected. Therefore, the data seems to support the increasingly common view that urban areas did not necessarily die or decay under the Late Roman Empire, but rather changed in form and function.

There are remains of a moderately large Byzantine village, about six km from Karystos, but there is some evidence that there was a Late Roman settlement there as well: some 1

C.f., the city of Phlius, with a similarly shifted center, without any substantial concomitant reduction in size. 2 See Keller 1985, p. 226; Kosso 1989; R. Young, “A Short Description of Southern Euboea.” (AMCS unpublished papers 1930).


See Kahrstedt 1954, pp. 136-154.


The Byzantine fortress at Akra Sophia at Isthmia was also surveyed by Gregory in the 1980s. One of the more active debates among historians of the Late Roman and Early Byzantine period concerns the extent to which there was continuity in settlement in urban areas between the fourth and ninth centuries (e.g., Foss 1975, 1977, 1979; Gregory 1986a, 1989; Gregory and Kardulias 1990). At Akra Sophia, both historical and archaeological data suggest that the Imperial urban system continued in the Late Roman era. Only in the seventh or eighth century was the fortress largely deserted. From that era, there were almost no material remains. Using Akra Sophia as his case study, Gregory argues that urban centers tend to reflect continuity, rather than discontinuity, into the Late Roman period.1

pattern of sites. The Late Roman pattern is most similar to the Classical-Hellenistic pattern, though without the same degree of clustering. The Late Roman era witnessed a burst of renewed rural activity and even the opening up of hitherto unused lands. The survey reports no seventh-ninth century sites in the region. The most famous ‘special place’ in Nemea is, of course, the Sanctuary of Zeus — the site of Panhellenic games throughout much of antiquity. However, sometime during the Roman period, the site of the games was transferred to Argos, and the sanctuary slowly lost its importance. In the fourth or fifth century, the area was revived by the Christians, and a basilica was built with blocks from the Temple of Zeus (Miller 1990). Other small sanctuaries and chapels also appeared in the landscape. A fountain near the sanctuary of Zeus appears to have had a long life; a new fountain was built as late as the Turkish period.2 The earlier and later Imperial periods appear nearly identical in the number of special places. No commercial sites have yet been identified for the Roman era, but thirteen of the known special places listed are “Roman.” It is especially interesting that the general pattern of dispersion of settlement into the late antique landscape of Nemea occurred while this neighboring polis of Phlius remained stable in size.

The large coastal town of Korone may well have played a governing role in the attractive Five Rivers-Messenia area. Korone had the status of a city in the time of Hierocles, and important routes pass through the Five Rivers area on the way to Korone. It is the only town with such status in the immediate Five Rivers region, but was not part of the survey area. The Phokis survey revealed five sites with Late Imperial occupation clustered together near the Gulf of Corinth (Figure 56), most sites associated with Christian buildings. Antikyra, on the coast, a modern fishing village, had a “Late Roman/Early Christian” (fourth century) settlement centered on a small basilica. More recently than the completion of Fossey’s work, several CE first to second century tombs were excavated in Antikyra, and a Late Roman-Early Byzantine building complex was found (AR 35 [1988/1989], pp. 44-46). The village of Dhistomon also had later Roman settlement that was associated with a Christian basilica. The Late Roman site of ancient Steiris is near the famous monastery of St. Luke. However, at ancient Medeon (site 3) the only Late Roman remains appear to belong to a villa of the third to sixth centuries.

The Boiotia project sampled the area roughly enclosed by the three ancient towns of Haliartos, Askra, and Thespiae. The survey area is bordered on the north by Lake Kopais and on the south by the Gulf of Corinth. The directors carefully chose a cross section of the local political units, geography, and topography. A number of rural sites were clearly not farmsteads. Many of the tiny ones were probably burial plots or cemeteries. One large site, Plains B2, over two hectares in size, is thought to have been a sanctuary, with evidence of Roman period use (Bintliff and Snodgrass note that it may have been dedicated to Herakles, c.f., Paus. 9.26.5). It is located on the northern edge of the Teneric Plain, in the northeast section of the survey area, and is quite close to the sanctuary of Poseidon at Onchestos (1 km distant). Other sanctuaries, potteries, and towers have been found, but exact descriptions and dates have not yet been published.

Religious and other special places In the Argolid, the Late Roman countryside had sprouted new special-purpose sites. Many needs could now be met far from the main regional center of Hermione. For the earlier Imperial periods, the survey revealed no special places, while during the Late Roman era, perhaps as many as fifteen such sites can be documented. In the early Empire, residents of the Southern Argolid seem to have depended on large centers like Hermione for most socioeconomic activities. Residents of the Late Roman Argolid, on the other hand, had easier access to religious centers, cemeteries, pottery sources, and the like than their ancestors, because Late Roman period sites proliferated further from the city. Clearly, exploitation of local resources underwent a dramatic change reflected in the

Few sites of any period on Keos can be associated with specialty functions such as ceramic manufacture, places of worship, or burial, though a number of towers dotted the countryside. Towers are one of the most visible remains of antiquity, and nearly every survey has found examples.3 The Keos survey recorded six isolated rectangular structures taken to be towers. Construction in each case was quite similar: large schist or limestone blocks were laid in rough courses. Only the lowest courses remain. None of the towers has been excavated. Surface finds included pottery dating from the Archaic to the Byzantine periods. Most of the associated artifacts date to the


Stated thus, this is a very academic argument. There are of course aspects of continuity and change throughout the history of these centers and we would better spend our time describing and explaining the nature of any change (or lack thereof) in urban features.


A Hadrianic aquaduct passes through the region. On towers, see Ormerod 1924; Nowicka 1975; Osborne 1986, 1987, pp. 63-69; Lock 1986; Ober 1985, 1987a; Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 13.



Archaic and Classical periods, suggesting that the towers were likely built at that time (Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 13). It is interesting that the artifacts associated with the Classical towers of Keos are similar to those found at contemporary rural sites without towers. The sites may even represent small, fortified farmhouse residences, though “small military garrisons, or citizen families acting as sentinels in watchtowers, could well generate very similar material remains” (ibid., chap. 13). Whatever their use, the towers do indicate a willingness to invest in rural activities; during the Late Roman period, three of these probable Classical structures may have been refurbished and utilized. Towers are the only sort of special places dated to the Early Roman period in northwest Keos. Three towers and one possible chapel constitute the totality of Late Roman specialized places. No period, not even the Classical, has yielded solid evidence for easy, non-urban accessibility to a variety of social, cultural, or economic needs. Therefore, most of the specialized needs of the rural population must have been met by urban centers Ioulis and Koressos during much of antiquity.

wanted to record any settlements they found whatever their date, but they were especially interested in testing Hood’s “Isle of Refuge” hypothesis.2 Extensive Late Roman remains (from the third-seventh centuries) were found on both islands. However, since settlement began long before the Slavic migrations, there is cause to doubt Hood’s theory that these islands were settled as forts. In fact, many of the sites found on the two small islands3 seem to have had market or commercial functions. The sites were large and rich and do not have the character of refuge settlements founded in an atmosphere of fear. Preliminary conclusions Some tentative conclusions about urban and rural habitation and land use can be drawn based on the evidence from surface surveys in Achaia. Large sites no longer dominate the landscape to the exclusion of smaller, as they did in the Late Hellenistic and Early Roman periods. Many new small sites, suggestive of single family farms were founded, and there is reason to believe that the smaller landholders had returned to settle in the countryside after a long absence. There is no reason to believe that the established elite — as defined by rich artifact collections — was eliminated from the picture. There appears to have been a measure of landtenure stability in the higher tiers of the settlement hierarchy.4 Many sites remained in use from the Early to the Late Roman eras. New lands were opened to exploitation and individuals were more willing to make an investment in the land.

In the Karystos region, several sacred and special sites have been convincingly identified. In the Late Roman era, there are several religious structures (including a chapel that was used at least until the Turkish occupation). At least one graveyard and a kiln were also located, as was evidence for stone quarrying,1 towers, and an aquaduct. The data from SEEP and Kartystos survey thus show a regionally diverse use of special places (c.f., its neighbor, Keos, with very few). For Laconia, Cartledge and Spawforth (1989) noted that there was Christian building activity, but it took place at some distance from the old civic center.

The combination of evidence for an increase of small landowners accompanied by evidence for stability among elite landholders is unanticipated for an era that had been described by the sources as one of poverty, invasions, and ‘over taxation.’ Instead, it seems that a social and economic environment was created that was conducive to settlement on the land by a wide variety of social classes, throughout the province of Achaia. Furthermore, rural settlements were less dependent on urban centers, even when cities flourished. We cannot envision the countryside population as refugees from urban areas, at least not from the cities in the regions studied here.

The survey of the Methana peninsula shows that sites continued to increase in number throughout the fourth and fifth centuries in both mountainous and coastal regions. However, their function, that is their roles as special places, is not easy to determine at this point. Fineware pottery continued to be more common at the coastal sites (Mee et al. 1991, p. 226, fig. 3). As at Karystos, the Late Roman amphorae in Methana were imported from places relatively close within the region. For example, the survey recovered numerous Bernice LR amphorae fragments, possibly from the Argolids, but few other imports.

In comparison, under early Imperial rulers, large estates of the elite pushed out the smaller landholder, and the land appears to have been used less intensively. The elite had gained control of property and resources and exploited them for profit rather than to maximize agricultural productivity (Alcock 1989a, ch. 6; 1993; Cherry et al. 1992, ch. 22). Classical era checks and balances that

Timothy Gregory directed the survey of two small islands in the Gulf of Corinth, in conjunction with the work of the Ohio Boeotia Expedition. It had previously been noticed that the tiny island of Kouveli preserved evidence of human activity in Roman times, despite a lack of fresh water and thin, poor soil. In 1981, 1982, and 1984 survey was carried out on Kouveli and the slightly larger neighboring island of Makronisos. The surveyors naturally


Hood 1970, pp. 37-46, where he argues that some islands of the Aegean were used a protection from the Slavic raiders in the Early Byzantine period. 3 Some of the smaller sites probably had pastoral or agricultural functions. 4 Barlett (1980, p. 555) in fact, argues that improvements on the land will only be made by the peasant classes (whether tenants or small scale land holders) if there is security (stability in landholding in all tiers of the settlement hierarchy would ensure that security) in their investments.


At the sandstone quarry, site C26, the surveyors discovered a silver coin in mint condition dating to Basil I, CE 867-886, along with a poorly preserved, possibly Early Byzantine coin. For Byzantine coinage generally see P. Grierson 1982, Byzantine Coins, London, Berkeley and Los Angeles. See. p. 180 for miliaresia.


limited the spread of large estates were either ignored (c.f., Jameson 1990) or removed, to the detriment of the small farmer. Small farmers are most likely to engage in intensive land use (see chapter four), and the material remains of the small-scale landholder closely resemble the features of an alternative model of land use proposed by Paul Halstead (1986). In particular, this alternative model assumes a dispersed settlement pattern, and is most likely to have been farmed by small-scale landholders, with a concentration on cereal cultivation. A higher background noise (i.e., more artifacts in non-site contexts) may result from the alternative model; artifacts are more likely to be spread on fields through manuring. In addition, a greater interest in subsistence rather than cash crop agriculture is expected. Therefore, the land is used intensively. In sum, there was an undeniable transition in settlement patterns in the Late Roman period. The less intensive land use characteristic of large estate owners in the late Hellenistic and Early Roman periods (after Achaia became part of the Eastern Empire) was significantly reversed. The evidence from the surveys shows an increase in smaller landholdings, where these small-holders, living on isolated farmsteads, worked the land more intensively, suggesting a growing access to agricultural land in the Late Roman period.


CHAPTER FOUR AGRICULTURAL EXPLOITATION AND IMPERIAL DEMANDS The archaeological results surveyed in chapter three indicated that in Late Roman times, there was an increase in overall settlement, particularly in rural areas. The data also suggested that there was an increase in smaller landholders. The literary sources suggested that the government, during the same centuries, encouraged cultivation in a variety of ways. Government legislation paid attention to all landholders, but provided special incentives and protections for smaller landholders. What I would like to do in the following pages is to link land use to landholding and connect public policy to changes in land use. These goals will be pursued through a consideration of some theoretical explanations for land use patterns.

government may have manipulated the agricultural population of its empire. Intensive and Extensive Agricultural Exploitation In a recent discussion of Mediterranean agriculture, Halstead (1987) described two land use systems commonly in operation before the implementation of modern agricultural methods, drawing a distinction between what he called “traditional” and “alternative” methods of agricultural exploitation. His distinctions have proved useful in reconstructing agricultural strategies for both ancient and pre-modern periods in Greek history (see Davis 1992; Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 22). In the traditional system, wheat and barley are cultivated, vines and olives are grown, and there is typically a two-year rotation of fields. In addition, landholdings tend to be fragmented, and grazing of large communal herds of livestock is common. This system minimizes the use of livestock manure for fertilizing because of the long distances between individual fields and herds of cattle, sheep, or goats. The traditional system is underproductive (or “extensive”), since fields are left fallow in alternate years and large tracts of land are used for pasture. In the alternative system, grains are grown but are rotated with pulses and land is not left fallow for very long. Herds are small and are grazed year-round near fields, which greatly increases the availability of manure, which in turn increases field productivity. The alternative system can thus be characterized as “intensive,” as it attempts to maximize the production from individual units of land. Obviously, these are not all or nothing models — both can operate at once, with different producers following different strategies within the same community.

Imperial and colonial systems1 have long been of interest to historians, but of particular relevance to this study are certain recent discussions that concern relationships between types of agricultural exploitation, settlement patterns, and land-tenure systems. Many factors may influence the density and distribution of settlement, including population growth, growth of towns, public policy, and the environment,2 but the ways in which farmers are motivated to exploit agricultural land, as well as where they choose to live (settlement patterns), are inevitably important for understanding how the imperial


For a useful definition of empires, see Eisenstadt 1968: 41-49. Imperialism generally includes an attempt by one political unit to gain and retain control (or establish “formal sovereignty”, Daadler 1968: 101) over subordinate political units. Among the models usually proposed for the study of imperial systems are Bartel’s (1985, also see 1980) probabilistic model and the predator model of Gall and Saxe (1977). Alcock (1989b) offers, not what she calls a model, but three “control strategies” which describe types of imperial control under specific situations. Alcock (1989b) briefly considers the wider effects of institutional changes, and her strategies (which go into effect once the imperial government has seized control) combine various theories to create descriptions of possible “behavior in an imperial periphery” (1989a: 11), with particular emphasis upon the administrative and financial needs of the imperial presence. 2 Environmental questions have been extensively studied. For an introduction to the Mediterranean environment, see Braudel 1972. Van Andel and Runnels (1987) integrate social and environmental factors in their discussion of the Argolid. McDonald and Rapp (1972) pioneered cross disciplinary studies of the ancient world, and include extensive environmental detail in their publication. Also see the work of, e.g., Athanasides 1975; Bell 1982; Bintliff 1977; Boardman 1977; Camp 1979; Forbes 1982; Foxhall 1990b; Gavrielides 1976; Meiggs 1982; Payne 1975; Perry 1981; Sheehan and Whitehead 1981; van Andel, Runnels and Pope 1986; Wigley and Farmer 1982. The Greek environment is well represented by the surveys, and is, moreover, relatively homogeneous; therefore it is not likely to explain any diversity in the archaeological record. Environmental factors may, however, help explain differences between provinces and may therefore be of particular interest when other case studies of other Late Roman provinces appear.

A particular pattern of residence can be logically associated with each of these two systems. A dispersed settlement pattern may be expected with the alternative system, with landholdings being consolidated near rural farms.3 In this way, husbandry and agriculture would be more closely integrated, and manure more available for fertilizing. The traditional regime, on the other hand, presupposes nucleated settlement (Halstead 1987, p. 83; Davis 1992, p. 6). Relative increases in rural settlement might thus be seen as a “reflection of an agricultural strategy that seeks to maximize output from subsistence production on a given acreage of land” (Davis 1992, p. 7). Rural settlement, in other words, is an indication of the operation of an intensive, highly productive, agricultural strategy. A lack of rural settlement suggests an extensive and underproductive use of individual units of agricultural land.


While properties were fragmented in Late Roman times, leasing of land may have allowed functional consolidation and, thus, intensive use of the land.


Very large estates are not usually the most productive per unit of land. Large, consolidated tracts of land will frequently include vast areas devoted to livestock and herding. Large size does not, therefore, automatically lead to higher productivity (Pitt-Rivers 1971, pp. 36-45; Foxhall 1990b, p. 226). Rich households that held large estates no doubt desired commodities for subsistence, but they also desired commodities for their value beyond subsistence. These desires led to surplus-oriented economic aims and resulted in agricultural strategies directed toward the production of goods for sale (Foxhall 1990b, p. 24). Under such circumstances, less productive use of individual units of land might reflect the existence, and possibly the predominance, of large estates owned by the elite, and a traditional mode of production, especially when accompanied by a nucleated settlement pattern.

µεγάλαι), that belong to many owners (πολλών... δεσπότων) each of whom controls a small area. Second, are those lands that have only one owner (and a distinguished one at that -- καà τ´ν Ñπιφανών). It is not clear what the residential requirements are in this second case, nor how the lands would be worked, but the largescale landowner could rent out the land or hire cultivators or own slaves to work the land. In the first case, relatively small independent holdings are implied, with no limitations on the disposal of this property. Libanius does not tell us whether the large estate was in a single parcel. In order to understand how — and how successfully — the imperial government encouraged intensive land use, it is crucial to have established a relationship between the large-scale and extensive use of land and between smaller scale and intensive use of land. However, it is not critical to determine who owned the land. The small-scale farmer may have been either independent or a tenant since, in either case, the farmer would likely have been dependent on local wealthy landowners and in either case the small farmer could have been expected to use the land intensively (i.e., usually in the alternative manner that Halstead outlines). Moreover, since it is highly unlikely that either large landowners or small farmers are entirely missing from the rural landscape of any society, ancient or modern, it is the predominance of the one pattern over the other that will provide evidence of the effectiveness of imperial public policy in motivating the increase in agricultural productivity that, according to my evidence, occurred in the Late Roman Empire.

The existence of small independent subsistence landholders, on the other hand, is more difficult to identify. This is because tenancy arrangements also can encourage the use of land in smaller parcels and in more productive ways, allowing the alternative system to operate, while property remains in the hands of larger landowners. Following Halstead’s model, however, we can at least suggest that dispersed settlement is indicative of intensive use of the land, particularly when smaller habitations are as common as they seem to have been in Late Roman times. One can identify certain distinct types of archaeological evidence that are indicative of the operation of each of Halstead’s theoretical types of land use (Table 4.1). It is clear that it will be hard to determine the actual tenure of a parcel of land (e.g. whether it was held by a tenant or freeholder) from the material record alone, though tenancy is not of itself correlated with any particular land use system. Foxhall (1990b, chaps. 6, 7) convincingly presents evidence for a complex variety of tenancy relationships on large, medium, and small sites. She argues that even independent small farmers were likely to have been used as wage laborers by wealthy neighbors. Smaller landowners would have experienced a form of dependency on the wealthy of their region. On the other hand, large-scale farms could be leased, so there is no guarantee that the size of an estate will indicate the existence of independent landholders.1 The practice of leasing large farms with equipment is recorded in the Digest.2 The legislative evidence also points to an interest by the government in both tenants and small independent landholders.

Thus, it appears that intensive land use can be linked to dispersed settlement and smaller landholders, but cannot be linked with certainty to any specific system of land tenure. The large number of Late Roman artifacts found in recent archaeological surveys seems, in turn, to reflect a Late Roman increase in dispersed settlement and smaller landholdings. While it seems likely that Imperial policy was primarily responsible for these changes, there are several other factors that might be used to explain an increase in intensive land use and settlement in rural areas — particularly, population growth and an increase in market demand. Population growth and urban expansion One of the factors naturally affecting methods of agricultural exploitation and rural settlement may be the size of the local consuming population. If there is growth in the population3, steps must be taken to increase production. This can be done in a few ways: either through more intensive use of existing farms or the opening up of new lands4 to cultivation (Kehoe 1988, p. 12; Grigg 1982, pp. 101-117; Boserup 1965; Slicher van Bath 1963, pp. 1-25). However, it has been noticed that

Libanius confirms the notion that Late Roman landholding and tenure patterns were complex. He noted several types of rural habitation and exploitation (Discourse on Patronages 4-11). First are large villages (κώµαι 1

Following Foxhall’s suggestions (1990b, chap. 7), we might best distinguish tenant from an independent landholder on medium sized farms with expensive equipment and a lack of imported and costly pottery. However, as Foxhall is aware, in cases where the material record is incomplete or in those cases were the equipment of a landlord moves about from estate to estate, it will remain impossible to determine the status of many parcels. 2 See e.g., Dig. 19.2.3 (Pomponius); (Ulpian); (Ulpian); (Gaius); (Paul).


There are many potential causes of local population growth, including higher birth rates and immigration. 4 These lands may be used intensively or extensively.


Table 4.1 Theoretical Relationship of Land use and Landholding LARGE SCALE/TRADITIONAL


Socio-economic features 1. fragmented properties 2. nucleated settlement patterns 3. olives/vines-lg. part of cultivated area 4. sm. gardens, orchards, vineyards 5. production beyond surplus 6. located close to transport 7. cash cropping (e.g., vines) 8. polycropping rare 9. integrated into market economy 10. lg. prod. units, self-contained Traditional-extensive land use model 1. fragmented properties 2. nucleated settlement patterns 3. olives/vines a large. part of cultivated area 4. sm. gardens, orchards and vineyards 5. absence of manuring 6. absence of crop rotation 7. two year fallowing 8. seasonal pasturing/consolidated herds 9. absence of soil improving techniques 10. lg. tenant farms not located near transport 11. remote locations 12. expensive equipment Material evidence 1. lg. site size 2. located in areas well suited to cash crops 3. sizeable bldgs., well built, finished blocks 4. olive presses and viticulture equipment 5. roof tiles 6. inscriptions w/servants or managers mentioned 7. imported pottery, glass, marble, mosaics, baths 8.plough shares

Socio-economic features 1. dispersed settlement 2. subsistence agriculture primarily 3. intensive land use 4. cereals important 5. polycropping implied 6. integrated into market economy 7. not necessarily close to major routes

Alternative-intensive land use model 1. dispersed settlement 2. subsistence agriculture easier 3. small site size implied 4. cereal/pulse rotation of crops the norm 5. polycropping 6. hoe cultivation 7. manuring and other soil improving techniques 8. unconsolidated herds 9. sm.-med. farms subject of emphyteutic leases 10. lowered agricultural risks 11 sm. plots with luxury cash crops 12. expensive equipment (tenant farms) 13. little or no costly imported pottery Material evidence 1. small-medium site size 2. terracing more likely 3. small bldgs., unfinished blocks 4. roof tiles 5. coarseware and plainware pottery 6. higher archaeological ‘background noise’

ancient states frequently had populations lower than was theoretically possible, given the agricultural potential of available land. A study of the southern Argolid, for example, shows such a relationship of agricultural potential and population. Jameson et al. (1994) argue that traditional grains (i.e., wheat and barley) and other crops were used for diversification. The presence of animals and specialized crops, such as vines and olives, points to the operation of complex and flexible agricultural strategies, while polycropping, interplanting, manuring, terracing, drainage, and repeated plowing combined to increase the agricultural potential of the landscape (ibid., chapter 5, 2627). Additionally, Jameson et al., argue the agricultural potential of Greece in general, and the Argolid in particular, was generally “high”, with “competent soil management” (ibid., chapter 5). They believe that the ancient population neither stressed nor misused the capacities of the land, and they conclude that a larger population could have been supported in most Greek states.

determine how much grain people typically ate. Foxhall and Forbes (1982) have convincingly argued that cereal crops provided 70-75% of the kcal/day in the ancient diet. Recent work by several authors2 has provided sound modern estimates for grain consumption in the ancient world. Jameson and his colleagues (1994, chap. 5) estimate that, on average, about one hectare of arable land was needed to produce the cereals needed to feed one person.3 (Interestingly this is comparable to the sizes of allotments given to citizens in Classical Greece [Jameson 1994, chap. 5; Burford-Cooper 1977/78, pp. 162-75]).

1982: 136-155; Russell 1958; LeBlanc 1971; Casselberry 1974; Naroll 1964; Burford-Cooper 1977/78; Sanders 1984; Garnsey 1988; Duncan-Jones 1980; Hansen 1986; Gomme 1933; Carney 1971; Patlagean 1977. 2 See for example, Garnsey (1985, 1988) and Foxhall and Forbes (1982). 3 The family was estimated at 5 persons. In Attica, the land available was more than adequate for supplying the cereal needs (under normal conditions) “of those local populations whose numbers at different periods are indicated by archaeological or historical evidence” (Jameson et al. 1994, chap. 5).

In order to evaluate population size1 and the carrying capacity of the land, it was, of course, necessary to 1

On estimating population size see e.g., Wagstaff and Cherry


If one accepts the highest reasonable population figures for the Southern Argolid1 and the consumption figures determined by Foxhall and Forbes, it indeed appears that the population was lower than that which could be supported during an average year. Osborne (1987, p. 45) notes that it is important to “bear in mind that when calculating the agricultural potential of people who are largely practicing subsistence farming, what is important is not the maximum production, nor the average, but the production in bad years.” Even so, it appears clear that the land could have supported more people than it did. Hence, the population of the southern Argolid was not dependent on the ultimate carrying capacity of the land, but rather on the willingness or ability of individuals to produce.

It is by now axiomatic that city and country in the ancient world were related and mutually dependent (Rich and Wallace-Hadrill 1991). The countryside influenced the city, and vice versa, and these regions must be considered together5 if we are to understand either (Osborne 1987, p. 9; Abrams and Wrigley 1978, pp. 1ff). Residents of urban and rural areas each needed the products produced by the other. Attempts have been made to define, describe, and explain the nature of the urban and rural relationship with greater precision.6 The city usually functioned as the center of a territory and as the focus of social, political, and economic activity.7 In many eras, one might expect that most of a region’s economic surplus would be concentrated in the city, and that the economic elite would either reside and/or spend their money in the city (Gregory 1984). The definition of a city is not dependent on its size, legal status, or the quality and size of its public buildings,

Clearly, local agricultural potential could limit a population, but it does not appear to have regularly done so. The most convincing population numbers for the Roman period remain those of Patlagean (1977) and Carney (1971), who argue that the Late Roman population experienced at most a slight growth in size.2 As demonstrated earlier, there does appear to have been a slight population increase in some parts of Achaia, but not in the region as a whole, due to migrations, invasions, natural disasters and population relocations. These facts suggest that increased intensification in the ancient past, notably in the Late Roman period when there was a dramatic increase in intensive use and settlement of the countryside, may have been motivated by factors other than population demand.


Strabo, too, (4.1.5) understood that the realm of agriculture and civilized city life were mutually dependent. The cities of the Late Roman empire suffered a series of shocks from invasions and social transformations. Such events will have effected their size and health, but there is no consensus on whether there was a general continuity or collapse of the ancient urban form (Gregory 1984, p. 268, with, for continuity: Ostrogorsky 1967; Vyronis 1963; and collapse: Kazhdan 1982; Foss 1977; Mango 1980). The conflict of opinions is partly due to a simple failure to recognize regional variation. Where one city may have flourished, another may have been abandoned. The comparative regional approach used in this analysis mitigates problems caused by concentration on a single city or single region. 6 Numerous models have been advanced to fine tune the definition of the ancient city. Finley (1977) traces the development and usefulness of urban descriptions and argues for the usefulness of the ‘consumer’ model of the ancient city. His model does not preclude a more general definition. For various definitions and models, see e.g., Paus. 10.4.1; Fustel de Coulanges 1980 (whose subject is really the state, not the specifically the city); Abrams and Wrigley 1978; Alcock 1989a; Gregory 1984, 1982a, 1982b; Hopkins 1978; Osborne 1987; Patlagean 1977. Interestingly the Dig 50.16.2 (Paul) states that the designation ‘city’ (urbs) relates to the area within the walls. The Digest 50.16.198 (Ulpian) indicates the complexity of urban/rural distinctions: “We regard as ‘urban estates’ all buildings, not only those which are in towns but also any enclosures or other services which there may be in villas and villages, or if there are residences which serve only for pleasure: for it is not the position which creates the urban estate, but its nature. So it must be said that gardens also, if there are any among buildings, are included in the designation ‘urban’. Clearly if the gardens are for the most part productive, as, for instance, vineyards and vegetable patches, these are for the most part not urban.” “‘Urbana praedia’ omnia aedificia accipimus, non solum ea quae sunt in oppidis, sed et si forte stabula sunt vel alia meritoria in villas et in vicis, vel si praetoria voluptati tantum deservientia: quia urbanum praedium non locus facit, sed materia. proinde hortos quoque, si qui sunt in aedificciis constituti, dicendum est urbanorum appellatione contineri. plane si plurimum horti in reditu sunt, vinearii forte vel etiam holitorii, magis haec non sunt urbana.” Translation edited by Watson in the Mommsen edition. C.f., 50.16.211. 7 Naturally, not all economic or socio-political activities will have occurred in the urban center alone (c.f., Osborne 1985 and 1987). Greene (1986: 141) in fact stresses the “peripheral” nature of Roman towns noting that a wide range of trading activities took place in rural markets and that much farming was accomplished from the urban base. Lib. Or. 11.230 and Dig. 50.11.1 (Modestinus) refer to fairs. C.f., Jones 1940, p. 361.

Attempts to increase production from the land may also result from the creation of new urban administrative centers and the new food demands resulting from such foundations. Such foundations are characteristic of Roman rule. City growth has sometimes been linked to expansion of Roman agriculture.3 For example, in the area around Cesarea, in modern Algeria, P. Leveau noticed that the growth of the urban center was accompanied by the appearance of substantial agricultural installations (villae), many with a large investment in olive culture — a good cash crop.4 He believes that these installations were the primary mode of wealth production for the urban elite, and, therefore, are directly linked to the growth of the city and its wealthier citizen population. Hopkins (1978, pp. 35-77) also analyzed the relationship between urban growth and agricultural expansion, arguing that taxation policies could and did link urban and rural residents in the Greco-Roman world (c.f., Abrams and Wrigley 1978, pp. 295-309; Wallerstein 1974, pp. 67-129). 1

The Southern Argolid comprised approximately 206 km2 of land. Jameson et al. (1994) made estimates of both urban and rural populations: town densities were estimated at 250 persons/ ha. and rural areas (villages) were estimated at 125 persons/ ha.). At Halieis, for example, the population was determined to be “up to 2,100 people” (Jameson et al. 1994, appendix B). 2 Gregory (1982a, b) discusses population loss in the Early Byzantine period. 3 This expansion may have resulted in either intensive or extensive use. 4 1975, 1977, 1982a,b, 1984. On olive cultivation in the GrecoRoman world, see Foxhall 1990b.


but rather on its function within the region. The line between the urban center and rural hinterland, moreover, is exceedingly difficult to draw. Even the ancient term polis encompassed both the urban and rural elements as well as the population of the state. The codes acknowledge that agricultural estates and gardens could be included in an urban context (Dig. 50.16.198 [Ulpian]), and it was not where but how an estate was used that defined its nature. There was no ancient legal distinction between city dwellers and rural inhabitants, at least not one made on the basis of where one either worked or lived. A law in the Digest (33.10.12 [Labeo]) illustrates this:

observable in the archaeological record from the fourth through sixth centuries. In the areas of Achaia studied by archaeological surveys, the towns and cities experienced only a slight growth and revival during the Late Roman era. Market demand The Argolid surveyors have presented a simple economic explanation for the patterns recognized in their region, including dispersal of rural residence: “Our thesis is simple: the number and density of settlements increased, usually with an increase in population, whenever access to external markets was available. When such access was cut off or markets disappeared, settlement density fell and presumably populations along with it.” (Runnels and Van Andel 1987, p. 303). Their evidence is used to imply (Jameson et al. 1994, chap. 5) that population levels were kept low because there was a lack of incentive to produce. That is, productive capabilities were not fully utilized because it did not ‘pay’ to do so. Levels of production, settlement patterns, and population densities are thus directly linked to the availability of markets.

Quemadmodum urbanus servus et rusticus distinguitur non loco, sed genere usus, ita urbana penus et supellex ad usum urbanum, non ad locum ad locum urbanum aut peregrinum dirigenda est, multumque interest, penus et supellex ea quae in urbe sit an urbana legetur vel promittatur. Just as an urban and rural slave are distinguished not by their place of employment but by its nature, so urban stores and furniture are to be classified by their urban use, not by their urban or rural situation, and it makes a great difference whether urban stores and furniture or those which are in the city are legated or promised. (Emphasis added).1

Economic explanations for settlement behavior of this sort are common, and the economic interaction of city and countryside is one of the most fundamental (c.f., Osborne 1987, 1991; Finley 1973, 1985; Hopkins 1978; de Ste. Croix 1981). Therefore, when Runnels and Van Andel see economic motivations in their patterns of nucleation or dispersion, they are in good company.3 Their theory does not reflect the complexity of economic realities facing a region, but it relies instead, almost solely, on a presumption that there was a lack of markets at times when settlement patterns were highly nucleated. Dispersion, on the other hand, results from the availability of markets. More specifically, Runnels and van Andel argue that a dispersed pattern indicates a desire to produce surplus for export, in their case, olives.

Since ancient cities acted as a focus of power in ancient societies, any changes in an urban center might be expected to have reverberations in the hinterland (but c.f., Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 22). Still, one cannot hope to explain either a “nucleation” or “dispersion” of rural settlement without measuring the growth or shrinkage of urban centers. A comparison of Pausanias and Hierocles suggests that there were fewer legally defined municipalities in Achaia during the Late Roman era. The total number of cities had fallen by nearly one half by the Late Empire; Pausanias lists approximately 150 cities in Greece, but by the time of Hierocles, there were only 80.2 A number of cities had been destroyed by invasions (Gregory 1984, p. 270). (In Asia Minor, by way of comparison, about one-fifth of the Roman cities had disappeared by the Early Byzantine period [Levick 1987, p. 344].) Some of the 80 Greek cities listed in Hierocles were refortified or enjoyed other improvements.

There are two main problems with the market theory as presented by the Argolid surveyors. The first is that it is not clear that increased settlement on the land always reflects production of surplus for export. There are cases where the opposite is true. On Keos, for example, it appears that increased settlement on the land was by small subsistence farmers who were not trying to produce beyond subsistence: “indeed on Keos the evidence speaks plainly that residential dispersal was neither a prerequisite for, nor a corollary of, large scale production for export.” There are, for example, “few signs of rural residence in those parts of Northwest Keos in which wine export played a role” (Cherry et al. 1992). On Euboea, the case appears to be the same. Indeed, in eras of intensified land use certain items appropriate for export were sometimes left untapped (Keller et al., forthcoming, and see forbes 1976 for Methana). Moreover, Hellenistic Greece saw a clear

None of the cities in the survey regions examined in chapters two and three were among those that disappeared between the Early and Late Roman periods. However, on balance, we have seen that there is little evidence that a growth in Achaian urban areas is the explanation for the growth in rural settlement and expansion of land use 1

See Watson in the Mommsen edition. The problem with this comparison is that Pausanius discusses cities in a physical (places he has been to a seen) rather than a legal sense. Hierocles is a list of formal, legal cities under the later empire, and this fact might partly account for the discrepancy.



Of course, they realize that nucleation and dispersion are relative terms and settlement patterns are not necessarily wholly one or the other but are usually in transition between dispersed and nucleated land use systems.


reduction in the number of rural settlements (Alcock 1989a) at a time when the social and economic demands upon the Greek states were relatively severe and markets were readily available. The second difficulty with the Argolid explanation is that it does not explain provincewide patterns, since elsewhere agricultural production for export is either unlikely or impossible, even when there were increases in rural settlement.

The effects of taxation in kind Hopkins (1980) has considered the relationship of taxes to trade during the late Republic and Early Empire. Specifically, he has argued that Imperial demands for money taxes stimulated trade, and implied that taxes in kind may have stimulated an expansion of land use (not necessarily intensive or extensive). When taxes in cash were systematically imposed upon the provinces, farmers had to increase production of export goods in order to earn the cash needed to pay the fisc. The empire was composed of ‘tax exporting’ and ‘tax importing’ areas. Rome and the frontiers were the main tax-import areas under the Republic and Principate, and it follows that Constantinople and its frontiers were the main importers in the Late Roman east.2

In conclusion, none of the alternative explanations thus far considered in this chapter provides a satisfactory explanation for the patterns in archaeological data as summarized in chapters two and three. In particular, the increase in dispersed Late Roman rural settlement cannot be readily viewed as the result of overall population increases, the growth of urban centers, or increased market demand. In the remainder of this chapter, therefore, I will consider in greater detail my principle hypothesis that it was Imperial policy that was responsible for these changes in patterns of settlement. I will argue that a shift from taxation in kind would have promoted intensive use of the land, and, more generally, that the government encouraged smallholders.

However, for most of the Late Roman period, the government requested that taxes be collected in kind. The legal codes of Theodosius II and Justinian provide evidence to support the belief that the imperial government preferred to collect payments in kind rather than cash. Tax obligations were shifted from the annona (what the taxpayer paid) to the land itself.3

Imperial policy, rural settlement and land use The collection of taxes in kind may have encouraged intensive use of land, because taxes paid in kind made it possible to link the level and kind of imperial resources with the method of production (Goffart 1974, p. 66). Since the fisc collected produce and needed specific things, such as grain and olives or olive oil, it was interested in maximizing this kind of production from the land. Either extensive or intensive land use was likely, in other words, to provide greater material resources for the government. A natural corollary is that land had to be cultivated, because the economy of the empire depended on the circulation of material goods rather than cash substitutes.

In chapter two, we saw that taxes were primarily collected from agricultural land. Because state revenue was tied to cultivated land, cultivators and their property came to be closely associated in the law, a fact that has allowed the reconstruction of policy from legislative evidence. Agricultural production and land use were clearly manipulated by the ruling power through taxation and other incentives and punishments, and, I argue here that the government, through its policies, motivated a shift from traditional extensive land use to an alternative intensive system, like the model proposed by Halstead. The natural asymmetry of power between the center of an empire (Constantinople in this case) and its outlying peripheral areas (Achaia), suggests that the economic needs of the center could be expected to affect the periphery by increasing or reducing demands for production in the periphery (Rowlands, et al. 1987, p. 11). For example, Runnels (1981, pp. 200, 298) relates taxes and trade, and by extension, production. He noticed that trade in Roman millstones slowed dramatically by the end of the fourth or early fifth century.1 Therefore, he suggests high taxes had hindered the millstone market, and he argued that taxes had an important impact on that market.

Arguably, the Late Roman Imperial government chose to increase production by encouraging smallholders, who were most likely to make intensive use of their land. That the government should have seen the wisdom of reliance on smallholders in itself is quite plausible and has modern parallels. For example, Blant (1970, pp. 213-224) considered the responses of modern subsistence farmers to taxation. His approach offers valuable comparative material. In modern peasant societies of Latin America, small subsistence farmers and farm laborers using the land intensively generate a large proportion of the total national product. Subsistence farmers are not isolated from 2

Hopkins also noted that a rise in the volume of trade requires an increase in the volume of money in circulation. These factors are used to explain the increase in the supply of coins in the period from roughly 200 BCE to 200 CE. Imperial expenditure, taxes in money, and tax-stimulated trade were the forces that redistributed coinage throughout the empire (Hopkins 1980). 3 See chapter three for a discussion of the legislation. See Appendix C for definitions of tax terms such as annona. Jones believed that it was a labor shortage that tied individuals to the soil (1974, p. 87). Much of his argument rests on the premise that there was an increase in the abandonment of agricultural land, which I will demonstrate is not the case.


It must be noted that easily identifiable Late Roman redglazed wares, especially those from Africa, were still imported well into the sixth century, and distinctive combedware amphorae are found in the province of Achaia at least into the seventh century. These products provide much of the evidence for dating Late Roman sites. When these items do disappear, taxation-in-kind cannot be used as an explanation, since taxation-in-kind had been an official policy for at least three centuries.


markets, and taxation does not hinder their production. Usually, the smallholder is well integrated into the complex economic system and can expect to market fully one half of the produce of his farm, supplying himself with money for taxes and/or rent and goods not produced on the farm.1 These farmers depend upon only half of their produce for subsistence and seed for the coming years.2 Blant’s integration of the subsistence farmer or smallholder into the larger economic system suggests that the smallscale farmer should be recognized as vital to an economy, and not merely as an isolated and oppressed class.

Nonetheless, there are periods when rural residence appears to have been preferred. Why? In the Late Roman period, certain social changes would have minimized the attractions of urban residence for many. Imperial legislation records some citizens’ attempts to avoid civic service and the governments’ efforts to force these relatively wealthy individuals to reside in and maintain the city.4 At the same time as the burdens5 became harder to bear financially, the prestige of becoming a city magistrate was apparently declining in favor of high positions in the Imperial bureaucracy, the Senate, and the church, all of which conferred immunity from civic duties. The curiales reputedly began a flight from the cities (especially to rural estates), joined the church, and sold their lands (by which their status had been determined). They sought promotion to tax exempt Imperial positions and solicited the patronage of powerful aristocrats, or entered certain professions (e.g., professors, like Libanius) that also would release one from civic service.6 The government had made city life less desirable and prestigious, even while trying to maintain it. At the same time, we saw in chapter two that it offered incentives of ownership, protection, and tax breaks to rural landholders and tenants.

Liabilities of urban residence Envisioning first the extreme case of a simple, smallscale wholly autonomous society dependent upon a single primary activity (e.g., cultivation, herding), we may reasonably expect that its members would live in settlements distributed in such a way as to make effective use of land that is both suitable and available for cultivation or grazing...Other things being equal, therefore, there will be a tendency for settlements to adjust their locations closely to primary resource availability; where this is patently not the case, it is legitimate to assume the existence of real or perceived benefits outside the subsistence sphere, which in some sense compensates for sub-optimality in the relationship to resources. (Wagstaff and Cherry 1982b, p. 246)


Libanius says that the standard number of council members in Syrian cities was 600 (Or. 2.33), which perhaps suggests an increase in numbers intended to help support eastern cities. 5 Patlagean (1977, pp. 156f) also remarks of the effects of the influx of poor to cities, which increased demands on city finances and its social structure. Included in the analysis is an excellent account of charities and other economic responses to poverty. Liebeschuetz, 1990: 223-228 considers the plight of the poor in the East. 6 On the curiales, see Garnsey 1974; Procopius (SH 26.6-7), who complains that Justinian began the process of removing needed funds from the cities to benefit the imperial treasury. Amm. Marc. 25.4.25 related the story of Constantine annexing city revenues that were only later restored. Julian fixed the ‘voluntary’ gold contribution (aurum coronarium) at 70 solidi according to Libanius (Or. 18.193). Prior to that time, the tribute could fluctuate. Dig. 50.1.10 (Marcian) records that the Imperial treasury had rights to the goods of a debtor before the city or community in which the debtor was a resident. For the record of rent restoration to the city by Valens, see: CTh 4.13.7 (CE 374), 15.1.18 (374), 5.14.35 (395), 15.1.32 (395), 15.1.33 (374). For civic lands restored to their urban centers by Julian see: CTh 10.3.1; CJ 11.70.1; Amm. Marc. 25.4.15; Lib. Or. 13.45. On the other hand, CTh 4.13.7 (374) states that all civic taxes were to go to the state and CJ 4.61.13 (431) records that 1/3rd of the taxes were returned to the city’s control. There are numerous examples of Imperial legislation dealing with elite attempts to avoid munera and governmental desire to force munera, payments on various categories of elites. See e.g., Dig. (Papinian), 50.1.29 (Gaius), 50.1.35 (Modestinus), 50.1.37 (Callistratus), 50.2.1 (Ulpian), 50.2.2-3 (Ulpian),, 50.2.9 (Paul), 50.4.3,4 (Ulpian), 50.4.7f (Marcinius); CTh. 12.1.139 (CE 394), 12.1.161 (CE 399), 12.1.6 (CE 318); Nov. Maj. 7.1-6 (CE 458). On the municipal chairs see e.g., Lib. Or. 1.48, 83, 31.19; CJ 1.27.1; CTh. 13.3.2 CE 376). Libanius compared the life of a decurion with the life of a slave (Or. 25.43; c.f., Dig. 50.4.1, 18 [Hermogenian]).

Of considerable interest are the benefits that are conferred upon a population that chooses rural settlement over residence in the cities of the ancient world. The history of the ancient world has been defined by the role of the city (i.e., ‘civilized life’3). City life had long provided unique benefits for political and social expression and could provide security from enemies. The Roman rural poor often would move to the city in order to gain the benefits of grain distributions and the possibility of work, just as they do today (Patlagean 1977). “The very social and political structures of the ancient city-state encouraged centralized living and discouraged rural residence.” (Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 22; c.f., Osborne 1987). 1

According to the evidence from the Argolid, the methods that the subsistence farmer used for conserving the soil tended to be efficient. 2 If Blant’s model is accurate and can apply to subsistence farmers in other times, then the tax burden of up to 1/3 of the produce of an average Late Roman farm, may not have been as crippling as has been assumed. Naturally, the relative sizes of farms, good and lean years, as well as the quality of the land, need all be considered individually, but a priori , even theoretically, it cannot be argued that a 33% tax rate destroyed the small Roman farmer. The provincial tax rates given for CE second century by the agrimensore Hygenis (250 L[achmann]) vary from 1/5 to 1/7 of the produce of a given farm. Even if doubled, these rates are lower than one might have expected. Hygenis notes that in some provinces, a fixed proportion of produce is required as the tax, others pay in money, and some assessments were based on the lands’ productivity. 3 The Digest 50.16.180 (Pomponius) uses different words to describe urban housing and rural residence in terms that denigrate the quality of the latter.


public policy. In both cases, Imperial tenure with smallscale cultivators, acted to increase production and appears to have encouraged adoption of a system of agriculture of the sort predicted by the alternative model proposed by Halstead.

Imperial encouragement of the smallholder Access to the land is arguably the fundamental social determinant (Osborne 1985b; 1988), and the system of land tenure in operation can determine whether a population is dispersed or nucleated (Wagner and Mikesell 1962; Demangeon 1962, pp. 506f; Smith 1972, pp. 409415, esp. 416; Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 22). It is generally agreed that the socio-political system can be a prime manipulator of land tenure systems and, therefore, also of settlement patterns, shaping even “the upper tiers of the settlement hierarchy”, sometimes by force and sometimes through public policy (Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 21; Wagstaff and Cherry 1982b, p. 263; Alcock 1989a, b, c; Osborne 1987, pp. 24-25; West 1972, pp. 477-486).

In contrast, in other provinces, typical developments under Early Imperial rule included the growth in size of rural estates, an increasing imbalance in property distributions, and, therefore, fewer and fewer small landholders (Alcock 1989a, pp. 78-81). In Alcock’s case study of Greece under Early Roman rule, archaeological evidence supports the conclusion from scanty documentary data that land was held by relatively few individuals and used ‘extensively’ (corresponding to some degree to Halstead’s traditional mode of production). Imperial support of the existing and newly developing Romano-Greek elite was of greater importance, according to Alcock, than encouragement of intensive agricultural production in Greece. Small independent farmers were, in a sense, sacrificed for administrative convenience, and these individuals were forced to choose urban habitation in order to ensure survival. In both Alcock’s and Kehoe’s examples, the government was able to transform not only the lives but the very land use, settlement, and tenure patterns of subject people.

A case study of the Imperial estates in Africa, for example, undertaken by D. Kehoe (1988), has provided an analysis of how the Roman government affected agricultural production through manipulating the system of tenure. Kehoe has examined the economic policies of early Imperial Rome that were used to motivate particular types of agricultural exploitation in the province — for the government’s own long-term needs. He studied second century Imperial estates located in the Bagradas valley in Africa Proconsularis to test the theory that the local form of tenure and land use was largely the result of Imperial public policy.1 Information about land tenure and use is attested on a series of six well-preserved inscriptions found in the region. These documents contain regulations for both estate management and exploitation. Kehoe argues that the government directly controlled these estates through a policy that protected small-scale tenants (coloni) and guaranteed them perpetual rights to the land. This policy allowed the fisc to control large tracts of land, offer incentives and investments, which in turn allowed and encouraged cultivation of vast areas in a manner impossible for large private landowners. The system, though not without flaws, was at least partly successful. The government relied on these small-scale cultivators, and there is no doubt that Africa became one of the empire’s most important agricultural regions.

“Both in modern and ancient times it is perhaps decentralized control of production beyond subsistence, rather than increased scale of production, that ultimately lies behind the dispersal of population” (Cherry et al 1992, chap. 22). ‘Decentralized’ means that the ownership of land is not concentrated in the hands of the elite only, but was spread among smaller and larger landowners. Thus, a system of land tenure may play as important a role in determining the system of agricultural exploitation adopted as the availability of markets for exported items. The data from the surveys reviewed in chapter three suggest that land was not concentrated in the hands of the elite during the Late Roman period. Clearly, the choices of residence for individual farmers were motivated by a number of economic and social factors, and were not always simply based on a costbenefit analysis. Finley believed that strictly speaking, there was no economy as we know it in the ancient world (1985, chap. 1). He saw ancient economic behavior as irrational and uneconomic (1985, p. 19). Individuals in the Greco-Roman world, in his view, were making decisions based primarily on self-sufficiency rather than profit.2

The economic policy of the fisc in North Africa provides a model for the transformation of the rural agricultural economy of a Roman province. There is also evidence from Egypt that the Imperial fisc raised revenues through taxes imposed on lands cultivated by small-scale independent landowners and small-scale tenant farmers of imperial estates (Kehoe 1988, p. 227; Parassoglou 1978, p. 50f). In this case, the productive capacities of private and tenant farmers were primarily harnessed through tax legislation — and legislation is a prime indicator of antique

Day, on the other hand, assumed the Imperial government manipulated and controlled the prospects for economic prosperity in Athens (and Greece), but with little awareness of rational economic behavior (1942, reprinted 1973). He assumes, I think correctly, that emperors3


Prior to Roman rule, the valley may have been held by Numidian princes in the form of substantial estates (the native groups in the region appear to have used the area less intensively, but c.f., Whittaker 1978: 331-362). Under the early Principate, largescale senatorial landowners invested in this fertile region. Imperial ownership appears to have increased dramatically in the region under the Emperor Nero (Kehoe 1988: 8-10; Pliny NH 18.35).


This is a simplification of Finley’s position and purpose. He discusses in detail banking, trade, and property, especially with reference to the elite in ancient society. 3 I understand him to mean both the government as a bureaucratic unit and the individual when he implies that the emperors had


directly affected economic life through public works projects as well as legislation (especially tax legislation). Emperors created and destroyed market centers and guaranteed commerce (or failed to do so). The emperors could exacerbate divisions between the rich and the poor, partly through an elite lack of understanding and appreciation for the plight of the farmer. Under some regimes, farmers may have had little choice in their place of residence or mode of production (Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 22), and, therefore, would not have been capable of making normal ‘economic’ decisions. There are cases where the upper tier settlements were shaped and maintained by force. Settlements, as we know, were created, moved, and increased, sometimes as a matter of policy, as early as prehistoric times.1 The ancient farmer was capable of economically rational behavior when circumstances were right, as I believe they were under the Late Roman empire in Achaia. Foxhall, in response to authors such as Finley or Day, counters persuasively that the ancient farmer, especially the wealthy farmer, practiced “domestic production” that entailed production well beyond subsistence, with profits often translating into an increase of status, prestige and rank for the family (1990b, pp. 25-27). Her evaluation returns rational behavior to the ancient farmer, but within the context of the household rather than the state economy. Conclusion An increase in market demand, urbanization, and population does not suffice to explain the changes in the Late Roman countryside suggested by the archaeological evidence that we have reviewed. On the other hand, Imperial public policy could affect how farmers cultivated the land, where they lived, and how they owned and controlled rural resources. More specifically, it is plausible that the Late Roman Imperial policy promoted landholding by smaller holders and tenants, and that these farmers engaged in more intensive land use. The literary evidence itself suggests that it was an Imperial policy to attempt to increase cultivation. The archaeological data shows that there was an increase in residence on smaller farms.

power over the economy. 1 For discussions of Byzantine settlement practices, see Charanis 1949, 1950, 1953a, 1959, 1961, 1970b. Prehistoric settlement is considered in Renfrew and Wagstaff 1982; also Cherry et al. 1992. C.f., Osborne 1987: 24 on the policy in which the Spartans forced the Mantineians to disperse into small villages and Cherry et al. (1992, chap. 22, chap. 10), where in the fourth century BCE the Athenians forced the city-states of Keos to conduct their business as one polis rather than as a federation of cities.


CHAPTER FIVE THE EFFECT OF PUBLIC POLICY ON LAND USE IN ACHAIA “The organization of the countryside has always been seen in one light by the farmer, for whom the relations of production are social – family- and communitybased – and in a different light by the government and ruling class, for whom the countryside is a source of income to be managed. The vision of the government oversimplifies by stressing standardization and ideals. The vision of the farmer overcomplicates by constant focus on the individual transaction. For antiquity, however, it is the presence of genuine complexity, variety and individual enterprise that needs to be emphasized against the idealization.” (Eyre 1999, p. 55)

From the factors that could have encouraged cultivation of the land, both intensively and extensively, I conclude that it was most likely Imperial policy revealed through legislation over a long period of time that led to the expansion of rural activity attested by the archaeological evidence. In the following pages, I will consider in more detail the relationship between Imperial policy and settlement on the land, specifically, by the smallholder. Late Roman rural settlement by the smallholder: Scale and consequences of taxation Taxes can be raised or lowered in order to encourage or discourage settlement on the land. High taxes may, of course, drive smallholders away from rural residence. Late Roman taxes were, perhaps, arguably higher than in earlier periods (Jones 1974, pp. 183-185; but c.f., Hopkins 1980, p. 115), and many authors agree that there was an increase in levels of taxation beginning in the third century (e.g., Finley 1973, p. 90; Jones 1964, p. 469; 1974, pp. 82-89). However, we do not know whether taxes were ‘high’ or ‘low’ with respect to personal income, and this cannot be known since we do not know the actual amount assessed. At any rate, it is unlikely given the evidence that taxes were ever so high as to harm smallholders.2 A tax or rent burden of up to 1/3 of the produce of an average subsistence farm in Late Roman times, an amount sometimes recorded on Late Roman cadasters, was likely not crippling, especially if a share and not a fixed sum was required.3 Even if the effective tax rate rose from the first

The remarkable increase in the number and kinds of rural sites in the Late Roman Achaia is evidence of this genuine complexity. Literary sources also have provided evidence for a simple imperial policy that encouraged cultivation. Together, government and farmer interacted to produce a complex material and literary record of government policy and its effects. There is good reason to believe that the increase in the number of sites found by archaeological surveys reflects both an increase in residence on the land and increased investment in the rural landscape. Rural residents were more willing to expend resources on special purpose sites, which allowed them to live more independently of the cities. Of particular interest are the increased numbers of smallholders settled in the countryside of Achaia. Such residence on the land suggests that a return to the alternative model of intensive agriculture, last practiced in the Classical and early Hellenistic periods, occurred in the Late Roman period. This Late Roman rural settlement pattern is all the more striking because in the Early Byzantine period, all regions of Achaia are characterized by a severe discontinuity of settlement, and in the Early Roman era, there were far fewer rural sites than in either the Classical or Late Roman periods.1

disappear were those located along the highways (i.e. those most vulnerable to attack). Of 327 rural sites occupied in the first century, only 46 sites remained by the end of the sixth. There was a substantial decrease in site numbers. This pattern is dramatically different from that found in Late Imperial Greece, where settlements and farmsteads were flourishing well into the sixth century. It should be noted that Ward Perkins did not believe that such a pattern proves that land went out of cultivation. “From the archaeological evidence alone it is impossible to say quite how much of the drop in numbers represents land going out of cultivation and how much a shift in average size of individual holdings” (1972, p. 876). The settlement pattern, and, arguably, land use, of Southern Etruria changed significantly following the third century crises, and, evolved in a direction precisely opposite from the Eastern Empire. This is further evidence to support the view that the East and West were controlled by different socioeconomic factors. 2 Modern subsistence farmers can expect to market fully one half of their produce for the payment of taxes, manufactured goods, and/or rent, and still maintain their properties and lives. They depend on only one-half of their produce for their own subsistence and for seed (Blant 1970, pp. 213-224). 3 Sharecropping can protect the producer in bad years, because the rent or tax would be proportionally reduced. As already noted, the provincial tax rates given for the second century CE by


By way of comparison, one might consider the survey of Southern Etruria, conducted by the British School in Rome. See Ward Perkins 1972 for the data summarized here. Regional variation in settlement in Italy overall can be found in Patterson 1987. The survey area is located north of Rome and includes about 400 square miles of territory. It is bounded by the Tiber valley on the east and south, and by volcanic hills and lakes on the north and west. A significant alteration in settlement first occurred in the third-second centuries BCE The construction of the great Roman military roads (the Via Flaminina and the Via Cassia) resulted in the appearance of sites in the countryside roughly along these routes. Ward Perkins believed the settlement in the countryside to be a direct result of generally peaceful conditions, and such settlement was supported by Roman law (see e.g., Cicero CE Fam 9.17.2). The Roman Republican government, it has been plausibly argued, attempted to restrain the development of large estates (Ward Perkins 1972, p. 874). The crises of the second and third centuries brought dramatic changes in settlement patterns. The first habitations to


century onward, taxation would not have destroyed small landholders (Gunderson 1976, p. 48). Subsistence farmers could have withstood even the levels of taxation proposed by Jones (1974 1964), who argued that over-taxation directly resulted in the abandonment of land, particularly by subsistence farmers and laborers (“peasants”; 1959, pp. 39-40).1

At the same time, the imperial public policies were making rural residence more attractive by advantageous lease agreements, tax incentives, and the sale of Imperial land at reduced rates, especially to the smallholders. Numerous individuals would have taken advantage of such incentives. Many other benefits generally provided by urban centers had also been transferred to rural areas. This is reflected in a reduced dependence on a primary civic center, which was supported by the archaeological evidence – in Late Roman times, there were increased numbers of special purpose sites outside central places, and the distances of rural settlements from major towns increased. Thus, the urban and rural poor apparently gained access to land, while the urban rich were forced to pay munera.4 Complaints made by the Late Roman elite sources about the state of the empire may in fact reflect this perceived inequity.5

Based on Late Roman tax records from Egypt, Jones showed that 25% of the produce from an estate was owed as tax, twice the land tax rate as under the Republic. Nevertheless, the Late Roman rate reflected changes other than just a simple rise in taxation overall. As we have seen, the head tax had disappeared by the sixth century, and new methods of assessment had been implemented. Whatever the precise burden of tax levels in Achaia after the early fifth century, they did not drive the smallholder from the land. Archaeological evidence shows conclusively that during this period the smallholder moved back onto the land.

There is no evidence that the Imperial government desired the demise of the city, either as an administrative unit or center of culture.6 On the contrary, according to

Factors in the choice of rural over urban residence 4

Hopkins (1978, p. 62) has also argued that increased urbanism required a decrease in equality, which suggests to me that when the level of urbanization is decreased, equality among the citizens may have grown. 5 John Lydus (de Mag 1.28.5) noted that the curial classes had been “done away with” in his lifetime (fifth century). He said: “I myself remember [these changes] personally, while the curial councils administered the cities. When these [curial councils] were done away with, minor varieties of customs slipped away along with the main practices.” Translation by T. F. Carney. John Lydus was well situated to observe changes in municipal bureaucracies. On his life and work see Carney, 1971. Also CJ. 1.4.26, 10.30.4; Nov. Just. 128.16 support John Lydus’ charges. The direction of city affairs passed to officers elected by Bishops, the clergy, and the greater landowners, and it is clear from John Lydus that the Christian church was eventually to make substantial gains from the administrative changes in urban centers. There is other evidence that the church benefited from the changing face of the Late Roman city. Charanis, for example, believed that by the end of the seventh century, 1/3 of the arable land of the empire was owned by the church and monasteries (1948, p. 54). If correct, the church (with its largely tax exempt status) will have controlled substantial amounts of revenue no longer available to the Imperial treasury. 6 The physical appearance of cities had, however, experienced transformation, including the abandonment of old centers for new, although this should not be taken to indicate a lack of interest in the display of civic space. Gregory (1982a, b, 1984), for example, argued that the new city wall configurations, though perceived by us to be less carefully done and impressive, point to a sense of civic pride. The repairs, which used materials from older monuments, were thoughtfully constructed and, hence, should not be taken as a sign of poverty or disregard of the city. Compare one of the early Spartan excavators, Traquair (1905/6, pp. 428-430), who describes the late fourth century wall-building phase at Sparta as careless, especially as compared to the third century fortifications.

Late Roman cities obviously underwent a series of social transformations, and urban survey data has helped shed light on the consequences of these events. Civic centers moved in the Roman period. Saradi-Mendelovici (1988, pp. 368f) noted that the agora of Thessalonika had been completely abandoned by the seventh century, even while the city remained important throughout the Late Roman and Byzantine periods. Urban centers changed in function. The older acropolis or agora no longer served as the sociopolitical and religious focus of the community. It is clear that cities in our study areas did not disappear, and even grew slightly, while rural residence also increased.2 Rural residence was becoming more attractive to both the upper and lower classes. Heavier financial burdens were inflicted upon the curial classes, making urban habitation less inviting.3 The imperial government had reduced civic revenues in the east by about two-thirds, which had the immediate effect of increasing the duties owed by the local elite for the care of public buildings, roads, baths, and other public facilities (see CTh 4.13.7 15.1.18 [CE 374]). Hygenis (250 L[achmann]) vary from 1/5 to 1/7. The Athenian share of the olive crop owed to the Empire under Hadrian varied from about 1/8 to 1/3, but several agricultural items were totally tax free. See Abbott and Johnson 1968, no. 90. 1 Jones’ arguments for excessive taxation and rural depopulation rest in large part on Imperial legislation contained in the codes (1964, pp. 812f; 1974, pp. 82-89). He denied that labor shortage, invasions, or even soil exhaustion could have been responsible for the extent of the abandoned land that he envisioned. 2 Hopkins (1980) has argued that a decline in towns should have resulted from a switch to taxation in kind. The disappearance of some urban centers might reflect this change to taxes in kind. 3 See Liebeschuetz 1987 and Garnsey 1974 for an outline and discussions of the curial classes and their problems. Some believed that the councils declined because the curiales were abused, for example by flogging — an illegal punishment (Lib. Or. 27.13, 42; 28.4, 22; 54.51).

A. Cameron 1984, amply demonstrates a fear of any change in Procopius. See the laws of the empire, which seem to be trying to maintain the quality of life of the cities: e.g., Dig. 1.18.7 (Ulpian), 43.8.1 (Paul),, 22, 24 Ulpian), 43.8.7 (Ulpian), (Papinian), (Papinian), 43.11.2 (Javolenus), (Ulpian). Many of these laws are intended


Procopius, Justinian began his rebuilding program by consolidating some select cites and refurbishing others (Bldgs.; see also Wozniak 1982, pp. 199f; Daly 1942; c.f., Mitchell 1987). Archaeological evidence also suggests that there was public and Imperial interest in maintaining urban centers. For example, Argos experienced public and private rebuilding after CE 400 (Akerstöm-Hougen 1974, p. 151).

unstable land tenure pattern rural residence on consolidated parcels in the Late Roman period seems to have made sense for both farmer and Imperial government.2 Similar patterns of consolidation have occurred at other times in Greece (for example in the 11th century of our era and the Classical Period). While the patterns in the Classical and Hellenistic eras appear to have been slightly different than the Late Roman, the wide distribution of rural sites is a feature the three periods have in common.

Using several indices proposed by Hopkins (1980), we can see that urbanization per se was not on the increase. The urban population had not grown appreciably within the empire as a whole. Though the size of the inhabited area of most Late Roman towns cannot be clearly established, there is no reason to believe that areas of urban habitation had been significantly augmented. Finally, there may have been fewer sheer numbers of towns. When combined, these indicators, suggest that Late Roman cities played a different role in the daily life of the Greek populace.

Promoting rural residence through public policy Evidence of the Late Roman law codes suggests that cultivation was encouraged because the emperors were concerned with increasing revenue. The law codes, furthermore, indicate that a range of classes were involved in land ownership and cultivation, suggesting a lack of dominance by the uppermost ranks. This is in contrast to Alcock’s well-argued conclusions that tenure was dominated by large landowners during the earlier Roman periods (1989a,b, 1990, 1993). There are a number of factors that can be controlled by a government and which may encourage dispersed rural residence by smaller landholders. I have identified several ways the government can, and did, motivate the behavior of its citizens in this direction:

Rural settlement in Late Roman Achaia We have already explored the reasons why residence in cities would have been less attractive in the Late Roman period than earlier. And it seems likely that Imperial public policy actively would have promoted rural residence by a greater number of smallholders. These newly enfranchised rural landholders could have chosen to live in rural villages and worked the land from there, but the evidence suggests that they did not make that choice. It would be logical for a farmer to live near his property, a strategy only profitable if holdings were consolidated. Unquestionably, government policy encouraged consolidation of land parcels for easier tax collection. Therefore, when land redistribution took place, it might be expected that the government would have provided contiguous parcels to tenants and owners. When land parcels could be consolidated, residence on the land could also profit small landholders through the integration of arable cultivation and animal husbandry; in particular, the farmer benefited from the availability of manure for fertilizing.

1. Taxes. The government may levy taxes on the agricultural classes sufficiently light that they do not force farmers into debt and encourage them to flee from the land. Both the literary and archaeological evidence suggest that rural residents were not leaving the land in the Eastern Empire and that the tax load in Achaia was bearable. 2. Legislative protections for smallholders. The government may pass laws protecting small-scale landowners and tenants (from the economic consequences of natural disasters or economic pressures from richer neighbors). The government may, thereby, slow or reverse an exodus from farm areas (Blant 1970, p. 222). In contrast, during the earlier years of the unified Roman Empire, Roman governors had to cooperate with the elite to control their newly incorporated subjects (Pleket 1961, p. 302; Alcock 1989b). Furthermore, administrators needed to spend revenues to control local populations. For this purpose, garrisons and colonies were established in various trouble spots. Alcock argues that the early Imperial government was willing to sacrifice the

In addition, an increase in the density of the rural population might have lead to smaller holdings as demand for land increased. Intensive cultivation of small parcels might have been a natural solution to the need for increased production either for payment of taxes or for the advantage of the household unit itself (Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 22),1 Though consolidated property is an inherently

regime. Brown and Podolefsky also discovered that there was a high correlation between a high rural population density and individual ownership of land, and, moreover, that individual landholding is related to permanence of occupation and continual (i.e., long term) use of cultivated land. Miklius and Shang (1971, pp. 16-17) support this proposition. They found that even inefficiencies in production were due to a lack of security of tenure. Thus, modern and historical data support a theory that rural settlement is ruled, not by population density, but by socioeconomic circumstances and patterns of land tenure. 2 Partible inheritance practices will have forced the division of such farmsteads into numerous fragmented parcels -- in Late Roman times as in modern Greece – and such a pattern was susceptible to political and social upheaval.

to force the curiales and property owners to keep their buildings in good repair. 1 In another part of the world (the New Guinea highlands), Brown and Podolefsky have provided a relevant discussion of the relationship between rural settlement and population (1976). They found no correlation between population density and settlement patterns. High population densities do not always result in rural settlement. Other factors must be present. Brown and Podolefsky did find a high correlation between the length of fallow and land tenure: the more secure an individual’s tenure on the land, the shorter the period of fallow. In Halstead’s model, too, a shorter fallow is characteristic of the alternative cultivation


smallholder and agricultural tax base for increased political control (Alcock 1989a, pp. 116-118, 139-139 and chap. 5 generally; 1989b; 1993). Before the fourth century, the legal system of the Roman Empire had explicitly favored the upper classes. Such a policy that supported the elite at the expense of small landholders, therefore, caused a decline in rural settlement.

resulted from a strategy that encouraged cultivation in smaller units of land. Thus, the farmer would profit materially and socially by a move to the countryside. Benefits to the Imperial government It has been argued that a dispersed rural settlement pattern is associated with an alternative system of land use, with landholdings being consolidated near rural farms. In the alternative system, the farmer benefits from the fact that husbandry and agriculture can be closely integrated and manure more available for fertilizing. Rural settlement suggests a more productive agricultural strategy, while a lack of rural settlement suggests an under-productive use of agricultural land. The Late Roman government was no longer dependent upon the old elite to control the Greek population, which had long accepted membership in the Roman Empire. With this constraint removed from governmental policies, the administration could allow other factors to motivate its behavior. It was in the interest of the Late Roman government to take actions that would have increased the amount of land under intensive cultivation by small landholders who settled in countryside. Because the Imperial government had changed to a system based primarily on taxes in kind, it was desirable to increase agricultural production (i.e., the revenue base). Anything that could reliably produce more commodities would be attractive to the government, and intensive regimes arguably provide more agricultural goods. The government, moreover, could encourage selfsufficiency, decreasing the likelihood that the state would have to provide food subsidies during relatively bad years.

By the time of the Late Empire, the costs of this kind of imperial control were reduced because, especially in provinces such as Achaia, individuals considered themselves Romans and, consequently, beneficiaries of the Empire. The late Imperial government could afford to implement controls upon large landholders that are reflected in the codes of Justinian, in an attempt to protect small landholders. 3. Legislative protections for material investments generally. The state may provide legal security for any material investments in the land. If one made improvements on the land, whether one’s own or not, the economic investment was protected under Late Roman law. If, for example, an individual built a house or planted vines on property owned by someone else, and the rightful owner came to claim the property, the codes protected the original investment by forcing the owner to provide compensation for these expenditures.1 4. Opportunities to gain access to the land by smallholders. The state may encourage the opening up of lands to cultivation and ownership through distribution of newly conquered lands and the selling or leasing of older public lands. The literary data suggest that the sale or rental of imperial estates was common.

The government also recognized that it was easier to collect taxes from smaller landholders. As the later Byzantine Emperor Romanos I (CE 920-944) so obviously understood and so plainly stated, “the smallholder is of great benefit by reason of the payment of state taxes and the duty of military service: this advantage would be completely lost if the number of smallholders were to be diminished.”2 The Imperial government consciously promoted a public policy designed to encourage smallholders and rural settlement. Such an interpretation is suggested both by earlier experimental policies and later Roman and Byzantine Imperial policies and should not be seen as an unlikely aberration. The earlier policies, though only sporadically and locally implemented, show an awareness of the importance of small-scale landholders.

All of these mechanisms of imperial influence and policy were at work in Achaia during the centuries analyzed in this study. These policies promoted the intensification of land use and settlement in rural areas. There are good reasons why rural residence and land ownership would have been attractive to the poorer members of society. First, such settlement on the land could have provided relatively safe subsistence. The risks of rural life had been mitigated by government through protections from some kinds of disasters. Once an owner or tenant moved to the land, the government offered security of investment. Ownership or control of land had always been a symbol of economic and social power and prestige, which must only have been emphasized by declining prestige gained through urban residence. In addition, market, social, and religious benefits available in the city had also moved outside the larger urban areas, and rural residents had access to them without recourse to urban centers. An increase in subsistence production also benefited the local populace, since, as we have seen, greater productivity

These policies also suggest that the imperial government knew it could manipulate settlement and agricultural behavior. Hadrian officially sponsored a land redistribution program in Achaia.3 A CE third century inscription (SIG3 884) records that the emperor offered land to small-scale local cultivators for a fixed yearly rent.4



See Bartlett’s (1980, p. 50) conclusion, from his study of peasant agricultural practices, that improvements on the land will be made by the peasant classes — both tenants and small independent landholders — only if there is security in their investments. This also means they need security in their land tenure.

Trans. by D. Gorecki. Text: J. and P. Zepos 1931, Jus graecoromanum, (8 volumes), I: 209, Athens. 3 The unpublished Delphic decree is in Claude Vatin 1965, Delphes a l’epoque imperiale Ph.D. diss. Sorbonne. Anthony Spawforth kindly brought this evidence to my attention. 4 The Greek inscription may also be found in Abbott and Johnson


The first five years were to be rent free, thus ensuring that people remained on and cultivated their plots. The possessors of the land could bequeath their property as well. It has been suggested that much of this land had been hitherto unused (Kehoe 1988, p. 165).

íστε µοι δοκε² µ°λλον Øτέρους προτρέπειν, ëσους àν δύνησθε τ´ν πολιτ´ν, Ñργάζεσθαι τ±ς δηµοσίας γ³ς Ðπολαβόντας τοÅς µÁν Ðφορµήν τινα ñχοντας πλείω, τοÅς δÁ πένητας, ëσην àν èκαστος ¶ δυνατός, êνα ܵ²ν ù τε χώρα ÑνεργÄς ¶ καà τ´ν πολιτ´ν οί θέλοντες δύο τ´ν µεγίστων Ðπηλλαγµένοι κακ´ν, Ðργίας καà πενίας. Ñπà δέκα µÁν ο¹ν ñτη προ²κα Ñχόντων: µετÀ δÁ το³τον τÄυ χρόνον ταξάµενοι µο²ραν Ôλίγην παρεχέτωσαν ÐπÄ δÁ τ´ν βοσκηµάτων.

Inscriptions from the Bagradas valley in Northern Africa, discussed in chapter four, provide evidence of direct Imperial control over agricultural resources. The fisc recognized that the surplus food required by the empire could not be produced by large private estates alone. Private landowners were unable to organize sufficient labor or capital. Furthermore, private landowners tended to seek steady revenues with a minimum of investment.1 High transportation costs alone made it difficult to produce and then export bulky, relatively cheap commodities (Kehoe 1988, pp. 224-225, 108). In order to foster longterm investment in intensive agriculture, the fisc developed a policy of leasing its estates to small-scale tenants (the coloni). The government dictated the range of crops that ought to be grown, and then took a share of the produce. The government guaranteed a perpetual lease and enforced cultivation of the land. On the other hand, the fisc could not enforce the legislation so harshly as to discourage the coloni, who could desert the land or refuse to rent it from the government. Typically, the government would establish the tenant as farm manager, but would employ a non-resident overseer as insurance. By demanding a share of the produce and renting in small parcels, the government promoted intensive cultivation (Kehoe 1988, pp. 108-109, 112, 123).

Wherefore, I advise you rather to encourage all the other citizens you can to take some of the public land and work it, those who have some capital taking more, and the poorer citizens as much as each is able to handle, that your land may be in use, and the citizens who accept may be free from two very great evils – idleness and poverty. So let these men have it free for ten years, and after that let them agree to pay a small share from their produce, but nothing from their cattle. There are examples from later Byzantine periods that suggest similar policies in support of the small cultivator were not unknown and were at times implemented. Gorecki (1977) argued that the Heraclian (seventh century) reforms reflected in the Farmers law3 had two main purposes: to increase military strength and restore the economy. The reforms were composed of efforts to strengthen the small independent landholders, even at the expense of the elite. As in the Late Roman era, the specific policies were often instituted through tax legislation (1977, p. 129). Gorecki has speculated that the peasant ownership of land, which the Farmers law assumes as the norm, may have originated as early as the fourth century (citing Egyptian evidence), and the data in this analysis do not conflict with her supposition. The Heraclian reforms indicate that there were two main forms of peasant tenure: free independent ownership and free tenancy (coloni). Gorecki (1981) shows that in Byzantine property law, the institutions of land tenure were influenced by earlier Imperial fiscal policies; even the reforms of Diocletian may have been attempts to secure fiscal viability against rural demographic fluctuations by influencing demographic behavior, namely, by promoting settlement on the land (1981, p. 192). I would suggest that the Heraclian policy was not merely influenced by, but was a continuation of a policy encouraging intensive cultivation that had begun in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. This was a policy of proven efficacy.4

The administration offered favorable landholding terms, as well as the freedom for families to allocate their resources within the broad outlines demanded by the fisc. Shared rent protected the tenants in lean years and worked to establish common interests for the state and its tenants. The tenants helped the fisc as they invested in their own future by attempting to make themselves self-sufficient. In effect, therefore, the government set rules and incentives for landholding and use, and hoped that the citizens would take advantage of this — which they did (Kehoe 1988, p. 225). As a final early Imperial example, whatever the veracity of the Euboean Discourse, Dio Chrysostom suggests a reform program that includes provisions for leasing lands to small-scale farmers. This passage reinforces the idea that small, inhabited parcels under cultivation were most efficient and beneficial for the state, the city, and the individual. Dio has an old and wise man explicitly state that for best results, parcels of land were to be occupied as well as cultivated, and then he has the old Euboean man advise the local citizens2:


See Appendix D for a summary of this legislation. Of course, land reform programs have been numerous over the centuries and have met with varying degrees of success. But as a positive example, in nineteenth-century Greece, official policies for the redistribution of land resulted in the emergence of larger numbers of small landowners (Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 22). During the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods, on the other hand, the socio-political milieu enhanced the creation of large estates at the expense of the small. (Alcock 1989a, 1989b)


1984, no. 129. See their commentary p. 455-456. Also see CIL 8.8369 (=ILS 5961) from CE 128 (Mauretania), which shows the Roman government reserving land for intensive cultivation. 1 C.f., Columella (1.3.12-13), who described estates that were neglected because they were so big. 2 Dio Chrysostom, 7.36-37. Translation after the Loeb edition (J. W. Cohoon). See the entire section from 7.11 - 7.34 to get the full program.


The extensive land use practiced by large estate owners in Achaia during the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods were significantly reversed after the province was incorporated into the Eastern Empire’s sphere of control. What I have tried to do is show that the province of Achaia had experienced an increase in producers who followed the alternative cultivation regime rather that the traditional, more extensive, and less productive regime, not that extensive use of the land disappeared. Late Roman settlement and land use patterns in Achaia can be explained by an Imperial public policy that consciously encouraged intensive cultivation. The literary sources strongly suggest that the Imperial government attempted to encourage cultivation in smaller parcels, and formed the basis of my claim that the Empire promoted a policy of increased agricultural production.

Conclusion The government had a strong sense of its fiscal needs and realized that its own officials and the elite of the empire would work for their own, rather than the state’s material advantage. It was for this reason that several kinds of legislation were implemented to control officials and to restrain the activities of the elite, as well as to encourage and protect small landholders and tenant farmers. The government discouraged patronage because it worked to enslave small landholders and was used to evade taxes. Thus, the wealthy were restrained, and their economic power was circumscribed. Officials were forbidden to abuse taxpayers and prevented from profiting from their official positions. Small landholders were specifically protected in legislation, through tax remissions, restraints on lenders, and other privileges. The government even made an effort to compensate destitute individuals who endured losses from war and invasion. In the early Imperial period, revenues from the land were apparently sacrificed for the sake of political control. Large estates of the elite pushed out the smaller landholder and land was returned to less intensive use. The elite had gained control of property and resources, and tended to exploit them without concern, to maximize agricultural production (Alcock 1989a, chap. 6; 1993; Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 22). Classical era checks on limiting the spread of large estates were either ignored or removed, to the detriment of the small independent farmer (but c.f., Jameson 1990). In the Late Empire, because Achaia was secure,1 and because revenue from the land was of enormous importance, the Imperial government encouraged greater production from the land.

Because of tax incentives, there were new opportunities to farm and own rural land, and there was greater security for tenants, especially on Imperial estates. Therefore, for most cultivators, residence outside the civic centers was feasible and had advantages. Furthermore, the presence of large numbers of small Late Roman farmsteads resulted in a substantial increase in the number of concentrations of artifacts discarded in the countryside, many of which have been subsequently defined as sites by archaeological surveys — the initial point of departure for this study. It was, ultimately, the imperial government, the preeminent authority over resources, which chose to make land available to a greater number of small farmers. Such a policy benefited both the state and the individual. It is not clear that the Imperial public policy was equally effective in provinces other than Achaia and Africa. Different geographical and historical conditions may have worked to encourage other systems of landholding in other parts of the Late Roman Empire. In any case, public policy in Achaia provides a model of how Late Roman rule could transform landholding and agricultural practices. The case study of Achaia has also allowed us to explore the effects of changes in public policy on the archaeological record.

Intensification of land use and growth in rural settlement are commonly viewed as responses to demographic increases, or to increased financial demands upon producers (e.g., taxes), but these have proved to be unsatisfactory explanations. On Keos, Cherry, Davis and Mantzourani argued that the “potential sizes of individual farmers’ holdings depend less on how much arable land actually exists (or is available for purchase or lease), and more on the socio-economic organization of the polity, which either encourages or discourages the accumulation or fragmentation of property” (Cherry et al. 1992, chap. 22). This analysis has similarly found that agricultural practice and rural settlement depended on the socioeconomic organization of the empire, which was reflected in the fiscal policies of the Imperial government, and which encouraged the holding of lands in small parcels, discouraging the development of large private estates. At the same time, small farmers had both material and social motivations to move away from urban centers, resulting in an increasing differentiation of sites to accommodate the needs of rural dwellers. In other words, Imperial policies and the socio-economic organization of the empire were interactive.

The strategies employed by the Imperial government were not isolated behaviors peculiar to individual emperors, but rather belonged to a traditional, but less comprehensive policy that encouraged the small-scale farmer. In earlier periods, encouraging cultivation took a back seat to other Imperial needs, such as the necessity for order or for the cooperation of aristocratic classes. Nevertheless, it is clear that the state was capable of successfully promoting rural settlement and intensive use of agricultural land. The Later Roman government used its power to legislate protections for small-scale owners and tenants. The state provided the security and opportunity needed to encourage farmers to invest in rural land over the long term. Because of the efforts of the state, individuals were able and willing to adopt an intensive agricultural strategy. A connection between the practices of the government, the archaeological record, and the socio-economic behavior of a province has thus been established. The remarkable success of the government’s policies throughout the


Brunt (1965, pp. 267-268) argues that the Romans managed to create a sense of unity and loyalty among all the people of the empire, primarily by bringing peace and order to the empire.


province suggests a clear bureaucratic awareness of the effects of tax legislation. Regional studies should, in the future, concentrate on finding ways accurately to identify the material remains of independent subsistence farmers. Wickham (1988, p. 189) argues that “tenant production contains within it an independent subsistence sector: the tenant family (slave or free) provides for itself.” Tenant production seems to look to us today, in the material remains, as the production of small-scale independent farmers. Therefore, the development of a body of archaeological theory that would enable the historian or archaeologist to distinguish between small-scale tenant and independent farmer (a start has been made by L. Foxhall 1990a,b) is of special importance. By combining archaeological studies with the documentary evidence, we have been better able to understand the nature of connections between the Imperial center and its provinces. Specifically, we have seen that Imperial policy could be effective in promoting region-wide activities. However, it was necessary first to release ourselves from the constraints imposed by individual disciplines. The texts, even with their elite biases and interests, together with the essentially mute archaeological evidence, have been combined to paint a picture of a richer, more socially diverse late antique world than would have been possible on the basis of either kind of evidence alone.


APPENDIX A Ancient Sources The major historical sources for the study of the late Roman Empire are listed below. There is a wide chronological variation, and while all the sources are not of equal value or quality, the variation in types of evidence is exceedingly useful.

Histories Eusebius (Bishop of Caesarea) Ammianus Marcellinus Julian (Emperor; orations and letters) Eunapius of Sardis Olympiodorus of Thebes Zosimus Priscus Socrates Sozomen Theodoret of Cyprus St Basil of Caesarea (letters) Procopius of Caesarea Agathias Menander the Guardsman Theophlyact Simocatta

Period covered (approximate) covers up to ca. CE 325 covers up to ca. CE 378 ca. CE 350-363 covers up to ca. CE 404 CE 407-425 Augustus to CE 404 CE 433-468 CE 306-439 CE 324-345 CE 325-428 CE 431-593 mid CE 4th cent. covers reign of Justinian CE 552-558 CE 558-582 CE 582-602

Chronicles John Malalas John of Antioch Theophanes

covers to end of Justinian’s reign covers up to CE 610 CE 284-813

Law Codes Codex Theodosianus Codex Iustinianus Digest (of Justinian) Institutiones (of Justinian) Novels (of Justinian)

published ca. CE 438 published ca. CE 529 published ca. CE 533 published ca. CE 530’s published ca. CE 530’s

Other Notitia Dignitatum Verona List Synekdemos Peutinger Table (Codex Vindobonensis)

early CE 5th cent. CE 4th cent. CE 6th cent. CE 13th cent. CE (but from the earlier Imperial period)



The ancient sources frequently used in this study are collected below with the abbreviations used in the text. Abbreviation

Author and text


Agathias. The Histories. Text: R. Keydell. 1967. Agathiae Myrinaei Historiarum Libri Quinque. Berlin. Translation: J. D. Frendo. 1975. Agathias, The Histories. Berlin and New York.


Agrimensores (Agennius Urbicus, Hygenius). Text: Blume, F., K. Lachmann, and A. Rudorff. 1967. Die Schriften der Römische Feldmesser. (2 volumes). Hildesheim. Also see text in C. Thulin, ed. 1971. Corpus agrimensorum Romanorum. (Teubner) Stuttgart.


Ammianus Marcellinus. The History. Text and Translation: J. C. Rolfe. 1935, 1939, 1940. Ammianus Marcellinus. (Loeb Classical Library, 3 volumes). Cambridge: Mass.


Anonymous. De Rebus Bellicis. Text and Translation: Thompson, E. A. 1952. A Roman Reformer and Inventor. Oxford.

St. Basil

St. Basil. Letters. Text and Translation: R. J. Deferrari. 1926-1934. Letters. (Loeb Classical Library, 4 volumes). Cambridge, Mass.

Chr. Monem. Chronicle of Monemvasia. Text: N. Bees. 1909. “The Chronicle of Monemvasia.” Byzantis I. Partial Translation: D. J. Geanakopoulos. 1984. Byzantium. Chicago. CJ

Codex Iustinianus. Text: P. Krüger, R. Schöll and W. Kroll. 1963-66 (reprint). Corpus Iuris Civilis. (3 volumes). Berlin.


Codex Theodosianus. Text: P. Krüger. 1923-126. Codex Theodosianus. (2 volumes). Berolini. Translation: C. Pharr, ed. 1952. The Theodisian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions. Princeton.


Cosmas (Christian Topography). Text: J. W. McCrindle. 1897. The Christian Topography of Cosmas, an Egyptian Monk. London.


Cyril of Alexandria. Text: J. P. Minge. 1857-1887. Patrilogia Graeca. Paris. Translation: L. R. Wickham. 1983. Cyril of Alexandria: Select Letters. (Oxford Early Christian Texts). Oxford.


Digest of Justinian. Text and Translation: T. Mommsen, P. Kreuger and A. Watson. 1985. The Digest of Justinian. (4 volumes). Philadelphia.


Eunapius. Text: C. Müller. 1868. Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum,4.7-56. Paris; Text and translation: 1921. Lives of the Sophists. (Loeb Classical Library). Cambridge, Mass.; also see R.C. Blockley, 1981 and 1983.


Eusebius. History of the Church. Text: E. Schwartz. 1952. Eusebius Kirchengeschichte. Berlin. Text and Translation: 1926, 1932. Ecclesiastical History. (Loeb Classical Library, 2 volumes). Cambridge, Mass. Translation: G. A. Williamson. 1966. Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine. New York.


Evagrios. Ecclesiastical History. Text: J. Bidez and L. Parmentier. 1979 (reprint). Ecclesistical History. New York.


Hierocles. Synekdemos. Text: Honigmann. 1939. Le Synekdémos d’ Hiéroklès et l’opuscule géographique. Bruselles (includes text, commentary and maps).


Institutiones of Justinian. Text and Translation: T. C. Sanders. 1927. Institutes of Justinian. London. J. A. C. Thomas. 1975. The Institutes of Justinian. Oxford.


St. Jerome. Text and Translation: F. A. Wright. 1933. Select Letters. (Loeb Classical Library). Cambridge, Mass.

John Chrys. John Chrysostom. Text: J. -P. Minge. 1857-1887. Patrologia Graeca. Paris. Text and Translation (French): A. -M. Malingrey. 1980. De sacerdotio. Paris.


John Lyd. John Lydus. On Magistrates. Text: R. Wünsch. 1903. De magistratibus. (Teubner) Stuttgart. Translation: T. F. Carney. 1971. Bureaucracy in Traditional Society. Lawrence, Kansas. John Mal. John Malalas. The Chronicle. Text: L. Dindorf, ed. 1831. Chronographia. Church Slavonic: M. Spinka. 1940. Chronicle of John Malalas. Chicago.

Bonn. Translation from Old

Jord. (Get) Jordanes. Getica. Text: T. Mommsen, ed. 1882. Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Auctores antiquissimi, V, part 1). Berlin. Jul. (Or, Car and Ep) Julian. Orations, Hymns and Letters. Text and Translation: W. C. Wright. 1912. Orations. (Loeb Classical Library, 2 volumes). Cambridge, Mass. W. C. Wright. 1923. Letters. (Loeb Classical Library). Cambridge, Mass. Lact. Lib. (Or and Ep)


Lactantius. Text: S. Brandt and G. Laubmann. 1965 (reprint) Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, 19, 27. New York. Text and Translation: J. L. Creed. 1984. De mortibus persecutorum. Oxford.

Libanius. Orations and Letters. Text and Translation: A.F. Norman. 1969, 1971. Selected Orations. (Loeb Classical Library, 2 volumes). Cambridge, Mass.; Text and Translation of Oration I: A.F. Norman. 1992. Autobiography and Selected Letters. (2 volumes). Cambridge, Mass. A. F. Norman. 1962. Libanius’ Autobiography (Oration 1). Oxford. Malchus. Text: C. Müller. 1851. Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, IV. Paris. C. de Boor. 1903. Excerpta de legationibus, p. 155, 568. Leipzig. Translation: R.C. Blockley, 1981, 1983.

Marc. Tr. Marcian Treatise. Text and Translation: Brand, C. M. 1969. “Two Byzantine Treatises on Taxation.” Traditio 25: 35-60. Menand. Menander the Guardsman. The History. Text and Translation: R.C. Blockley. 1985. The History of Menander the Guardsman. Wiltshire, U.K. Not. Dig. Notitia Dignitatum. Text: O. Seeck. 1962 (reprint). Notitia Dignitatum. Frankfurt. Nov.

Novels of Justinian. Text: P. Krueger, R. Scholl and W. Kroll, eds. 1954. Corpus Iuris Civilis. (3 volumes). Berlin.


Olmpidorus. Text: (in ‘Photius’) R. Henry ed. 1959. Bibliothèque I. Paris. Translation: R. C. Blockley, 1981, 1983.


Palladius. De re rusticas. Text: R. H. Rodgers. 1975. Palladius, De re rustica. (Teubner) Leipzig. Translation (French): R. Martin. 1976. De re rustica. Paris.

Pan. Lat. Panegyrici Latini. Text: W. Barhrens. 1911. Panegyrici Latini. (Teubner) Stuttgart. Paus.

Pausanias. Description of Greece. Text and Translation: W.H. S. Jones, H.A. Omerod and R.E. Wycherley. 1918-1935. Description of Greece. (Loeb Classical Library, 5 volumes). Cambridge, Mass.


Philostratus. Text and Translation: F. C. Conybeare. 1912. Life of Apollonius of Tyana. (Loeb Classical Library, 2 volumes). Cambridge, Mass.


Polybius. The Histories. Text and Translation: W. R. Paton. 1922-1927. The Histories. (The Loeb Classical Library, 6 volumes). Cambridge, Mass.


Priscus. Text (partial): C. de Boor. 1903. Excerpta de legationibus. Leipzig. Translation: R. C. Blockley, 1981, 1983.

Proc. (HW, SH, on Bldgs) Procopius. History of the Wars, Secret History, On Buildings. Text and Translation: H. B. Dewing. 1914-1940. History of the Wars, Secret History, On Buildings. (Loeb Classical Library, 7 volumes). Cambridge, Mass.



Rufinus. Text: E. Schulz-Flügel, ed. 1990. Tyrannius Rufinus, Historia Monachorum. Berlin and New York. Translation: P. Schaff and H. Wace (eds). 1983. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. Vol. III. Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Salvian. De gubernatione Dei . Text: F. Pauly. 1883. Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum., Salviani Presbyteri, 8. Vindobonae. Translation: J. F. O’Sullivan. 1962. The Writings of Salvian. Washington.


Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Text and Translation: D. Magie. 1922-1932. Scriptores Historiae Augustae. (Loeb Classical Library, 3 volumes). Cambridge, Mass.

Sid. Ap.

Sidonius Apollinarius. Text and Translation: W. B. Anderson with W.H. Semple and E. H. Warmington. 1936, 1965. Poems, Letters, Books. (Loeb Classical Library, 2 volumes). Cambridge, Mass. Text and Translation into French: A. Loyen. 1970. Lettres, poèmes. (3 volumes). Paris.


Socrates. Text: W. Bright. 1893. Socrates. Paris. Translation: Socrates. 1853. The Ecclesiastical History (Bohn’s Ecclesiastical Library). London. G. F. Chesnut. 1977. The First Christian Histories. Paris.


Strabo. Text and Translation: H. L. Jones. 1917-1932. Geography. (Loeb Classical Library, 8 volumes). Cambridge, Mass.


Symmachus. Text: T. Mommsen, ed. 1882. Monumenta Germaniae Historica . Berlin. Text and Translation (French): J. -P. Callu. 1972. Lettres. Paris. and V. Lomanto. 1983. Concordantiae in Q. Aurelii Symmachi Opera. New York. Translation: R. H. Barrow. 1973. Relationes. Oxford.


Theodoret. Text: Y. Azéma. 1955. Epistulae. Paris; J. P. Migne. 1857-1887. Patrologia Graeca. Paris. Translation: T. Halton. 1988. On Divine Providence. In Ancient Christian Writers. New York and New Jersey. And P. Schaff and H. Wace (eds). 1983. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. Vol. III. Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Theophanes. Text: C. de Boor, ed. 1883-1885. Chronographia. (2 volumes). Leipzig. Translation: H. Turtledove. 1982. The Chronicle of Theophanes. Philadelphia.

Theo. Sim.

Theophylact Simocatta. Text: C. de Boor. 1972 (reprint). Historiae. (Teubner) Stuttgart. Text and Translation: M. and M. Whitby. 1986. The History of Theophylact Simocatta. Oxford.


Zonaras. Text: E. Trapp. c. 1986. Militars und Hofling. Graz.


Zosimus. Text: F. Paschoud, ed. 1971. Zosimus. Paris. Translation: R. T. Ridley. 1982. Zosimus, New History. Canberra, Australia.


APPENDIX B Hierocles The following lists the cities and islands mentioned in the Synekdemos of Hierocles (from the sixth century) for the province of Achaia (Hellas) in Illyricum and the province of the Insulae (Nisoi) in Asia. The Greek text used is from the Honigmann edition. Brackets - [] - indicate significant restoration by Honigmann Insulae (ΝΗΣΟΙ ΝΗΣΟΙ) ΝΗΣΟΙ Rhodes (island) Kos (island) Samos (island) Chios (island) Mytilene (island)

Ρόδος ΚÆς Σάµος Χίος Μυτιλήνη

Methymna Petala (island(s)?)

Μέθυµνα Πέτελου

Tenedos Porosolene (Pyrgos?) Andros Tenos Naxos Paros Siphnos Melos Ios Thera Amorgos Astypalaia

Τένεδος Ποροσολήνη ƒΑνδροςƒ Τήνος Νάξος Πάρος Σίφνος Μήλος „Ιος Θήρα ‘Αµοργός ‘Αστυπάλια

On the island of Lesbos. It is likely that this does refer to the entire island. Reference is unclear. It does not seem likely that this refers to the Petali islands, west of Euboea. Honigmann argues that it is a doublet of Tenedos.

Achaia (ΕΛΛΑΣ ΕΛΛΑΣ, ΕΛΛΑΣ Αχαίας) Αχαίας Skarpheia Elateia Boion Drymia Daulis Chaironeia Naupaktos Delphi Amphissa Tithora Ambrosos Lebadeia Koroneia Styris Opos Anastasis Aidepsos (on Euboea?) Euboea (island) Anthedon Boumelita Thespiai Hyttos Thisbe Thebes Tanagra

Σκάρφεια ‘Ελ²τια Βοιόν ∆ρυµία ∆αυλίς Χαι´νεια Ναύπακτος ∆ελφοί „Αµφισσα Τιθόρα „Αµβροςοσ Λεβάδεια Κορώνεια Στίρις …Οπους „Ανάστασις Αιδηψός ν±σος „Ευβοεα „Ανθηδών Βουµέλιτα Θεσπιαί ‘Ηηττός Θίσβαι Θèβαι Τάναγρα


Chalcis (Euboea) Porthmos Karystos (Euboea) Plataia Aigosthena Athens Megara Pagai Krommyon Aigina (island) Kea (island) Kythnos (island) Delos (island) Skyros (island) Salamis (island) Corinth (capital of Achaia) Ne[me]a (?)

Χαλκίς Πορθµός Κάρυστος Πλαταιαί Αιγόσθενα „Αθ±ναι Μέγαρα Παγαί Κροµµυών „Αιγινα ν±σος Κέα Κύθνος ∆ήλος Σκ³ρος ΣαλαµÃς ν±σος Κόρινθος (µητρόπολις) Νεµεα (‘Ηράκλειον)

Sikyon Aigeira Aigion Methana

Σικυών †Αιγειρα †Αιγιον Μέθανα

Troizin Epidauros Hermione Argos Tegea Thelpousa Mantineia Lakedaimon Geronthrai Pharai Asopos Akreai Phigaleia Messene Korone Asine Methone Kyparissia Elis

Kephallenia (island) Panormos (Kephallenia)

Τροιζήν „Επίδαυρος „Ερµιόνη „Αργος Τέγεα Θέλπουσα Μαντίνεια Λακεδαίµων Γερόνθραι Φάραι „Ασοπος „ΑΚρεαί Φιγάλεια (Φιάλεα) Μεσσήνη Κορώνη ‘Ασινη Μεθώνη (Μοθώνη) Κυπαρισσία „Ηλις (µητρόπολις Αρκαδίας) Πάτραι „Αιγιον (µητρόπολις ‘Αιτωλίας) ν±σος Κεφαλληνία ν±σος Πάνορµος

Zakynthos (island) Kythera (island) Mykonos (island) Strophadia (island)

ν±σος Ζάκυνθος ν±σος Κύθηρα ν±σος Μύκονος ν±σος Στροφάδες

Kimolos (island)

ν±σος Κêµωλος

Patrai Aigion

The entry is “new Sikyon,” but Honigmann restores the passage as separate entries under Nea and Sikyon.

According to Honigmann, this city did not exist in the time of Hierocles, but recent survey (AR 34: 24) indicates the city was in use into CE 7th cent.



This city is improperly attributed to Aetolia. The word ν±σος is improperly added. Panormos is a town on the island of Kephallenia.

Unknown. Honigmann does not think it is the island of Stapodia, east of Mykonos.

Dorousa (island)

ν±σος ∆ωρο³σα

Limnos (island) Imbros (island)

ν±σος Λ±µνος ν±σος „Ιµβρος


A small island in the Saronic gulf across form Corinth.

APPENDIX C Tax Terms Below are the major Latin technical taxation terms and their definitions. The definitions offered here reflect the opinions and work of Jones (1959, 1964, 1974) and Goffart (1974). Birks (1989) is good for a discussion of property law specifically. J. A. Crook (1967) provides a useful introduction to Roman law and how it affected society. Jolowicz (1967) gives an extensive treatment the law of the XII Tables, and chapter 28 deals with Justinian’s codes, including the tax legislation. Term annona

Definition what the taxpayer paid; tax in kind (from CE 4th cent.); term also applied to rations issued to soldiers and other recipients of government salaries.


first appears in 290s; means ‘tax liability’ (extracted from the agricultural population), never an actual tax, nor a head or poll tax, but is a unit of assessment. Extracted from the agricultural population and was equivalent to the iugatio by CE 430 (its last known appearance in the texts; CTh 11.20.6).


three distinct usages: 1. individual heading in the tax register, consisting of the name of the individual and his declared property. 2. an unsecured share of the assessment equivalent to the iugum; pertains to someone with insufficient real property to be declared by the iugum schedule. 3. a human or animal component in the formula of assessment.


originally an extra (wartime) burden, it became a yearly public charge; levy of commodities to meet the cost of the army, civil service, and other expenditures.


measurement of cultivated land (classified, for example, as grain, land, vine land, orchard, pasture) from which the iugum assessment is made.


first appears in Codes in 335 (CTh 11.16.6); a schedule for transforming property declarations stated in traditional measures into shares of contributions to the annona (e.g. Egyptian measures translated into Roman contributions, see Jones, 1964: 464-469).


regular declaration of fields and property by landowners (see also iugatio).

superexactio or superindictio collection of rent or taxes above the fixed level (replaced the indictio as a special tax).


APPENDIX D Farmer’s Law Two records from later Byzantine periods include many of the same statutes as discussed in chapter four, suggesting legislative continuity. The following pages provide a brief outline of these texts. The Farmer’s Law1 was written in the seventh or early eighth century. It combines the laws from the Codices of Theodosius and Justinian and consists of 85 brief articles regulating the behavior of the farmer community (Üποταγ χωρίον). The legislation mainly deals with the free peasantry, and it is clear that the peasants were owners of their own properties, cattle, and possibly slaves.2 The taxed lands were divided into arable lands, vineyards, orchards, gardens and sometimes woodlands. It appears that some of the land was held in common. The pasture land was used in common, and animals were watched by a municipal herder but paid by the village (chap. 25, 34). The village was the main unit for administering taxes. The practice recorded in the Codes of combining cultivated and uncultivated lands remained in force in the Farmers Law. ‘Waste’ land was automatically attached to its nearest neighbor. That individual was forced to pay the tax, but enjoyed the right of cultivation, though not necessarily the right of ownership. The community, moreover, was liable to pay the tax of defaulting neighbors. Large (absentee) estate owners do not appear in the text, though local wealthy individuals are mentioned. Apparently, the village included land that was originally held in common and then divided among the villagers. There is no indication that the division of village land into parcels was originally equal in size or value. The main products mentioned were wine and grains, but figs, woodlands, and herds were also important. Slaves are sometimes mentioned in the manuscript (chap. 44, 45, 46), as are hired laborers (chap. 25, 33, 34, 16). The farmer had limited power of alienation of his/her property and the owner was restricted to sale or trade within the tax district. There were changes from the earlier codes. The capitatio-iugatio became two separate taxes; capitatio became a genuine head tax, and iugatio was the tax assessment on the land. Some argue that it was this change that resulted in an increase in the numbers of free peasant landholders (Ostrogorsky, 1969: 137, n.3). However, no explicit reference to a head tax appears in the Farmer’s Law or the Marcian treatise. The tenth century Marcian treatise is a handbook for tax collectors and presents a picture similar to that of the Imperial codes and the Farmer’s law. In this work, the writers concentrated on the meaning and explanation of technical terms. It is a major source for Byzantine taxation, and describes the world of the free peasant farmer community. The treatise shows that most of the inhabitants of the village owned their own lands, with complete rights of alienation. Like earlier legislation, abandoning the land did not immediately lead to the legal loss of the property. Instead, there was a time limit established for the owner’s return. Hired labor and slaves were still used in the cultivation of lands owned by peasant farmers. Property fragmentation through inheritance and sale are also discussed. There is no evidence of communal ownership, nor cooperative cultivation, nor does the evidence suggest a predominance of large estates with tenant farmers and/or serfs as the major work force (contra Ostrogorsky, 1969: 29-30). The village is characterized by a wide variety of persons, from slaves to rich men, and those who live within and outside the village proper (Brand, 1969: 35-41). The district tax collector, from the Imperial government (MT 122) made an initial assessed tax (the ‘raw tax’) on the village as whole, an apparent return to earlier Roman methods of assessment. Then the tax was refined following a land survey and sometimes even found to be lower than the raw tax. Each individual was responsible for an appropriate part of the assessed tax based on the nature and extent of his or her parcel (MT 114-115). The tax was assessed solely on arable lands. No mention of pasturage, marginal lands, or alluvial lands was made. If a tax-paying individual defaulted and could not be found, the village as a whole was required to make up the difference, though in some cases temporary tax relief for the community was possible (119). Exemptions and delays in payments were allowed in the case of natural or man-made disasters (such as invasions or war). Owners of property abandoned, because of any catastrophe, were given a full thirty years to return, with tax breaks to encourage their return, before their lands could be sold, leased or incorporated into the imperial lands (MT 116, 119-120). Lands that were given by the earlier emperors (until Leo VI, 886-912) with tax-exempt status remained exempt. Church lands also received tax-exempt status as a matter of course (MT 117).


See the thorough discussions of these texts in Gorecki, 1977 and 1981, with bibliography. Also see Brand, 1969 for comprehensive comments. See Ostrogorsky, 1969: 90, n.7 and 135-136 for overview and bibliography dealing with the dating and origin of the text. The best text and translation are in Ashburner, 1910, 1912. He also provides points of comparison with earlier laws (esp. 1912: 72). 2 There are several examples of farmers “exchanging” lands among themselves, on both a temporary and permanent basis (Ashburner, 1910 and 1912, nos. 3, 4, 5). Likely benefits of such an exchange would include convenient location of the parcel and type of soil.


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