The organization of rural production in Roman Central Tyrrhenian Italy, 200 BC to AD 400
Crawford, Abigail Elizabeth
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In this dissertation I use data from 19 archaeological surveys in central Tyrrhenian Italy to understand how craft and commodity production were organized across landscapes, what factors contributed to rural site longevity, and how rural sites interacted with market centers. The surveyed sites spanned the second century BC to fourth century AD. Most survey areas centered on towns or small cities, but several were within Rome's vast suburbium or adjacent to key trade corridors, such as the Tiber River and consular roads. To enable the comparison of more than 3000 rural sites considered in this study, I standardized published survey data into a relational database and analyzed site types, sizes, locations, and finds statistically as well as via Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools. Site types included constructions (e.g., aqueducts, roads) and settlements (towns, farms, connected farms). The latter two are the most common; they differ in that connected farms had more resources and better access to road networks. Production evidence for various industries (e.g., ceramic, metal, and textile) appear at both farms and connected farms, contradicting traditional views that such activities were confined to large establishments. Many rural sites were located in areas with workable and nutritious soils, and with maximum annual sun exposure. Nevertheless, advantageous location was no guarantee of longevity. Instead, the most consistent factor in rural site longevity was easy access to trade and transport networks. From the first century AD, inhabitants of sites with market connections within a 20-kilometer radius declined in prosperity or abandoned their homes, while those linked to more distant networks were able to maintain, or even expand, their territories. Wide access for buying and selling goods helped sites endure over time. This investigation demonstrates that market networks trumped site resources as the key factor in site longevity. By incorporating the types and patterns of finds, and mapping sites in relation to resources and roads, archaeological survey can help chart the ebb and flow of rural production and assess the relationship of that production to site durability.
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