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5 - Roman Port Societies and Their Collegia

Differences and Similarities between the Associations of Ostia and Ephesos

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 October 2020

Pascal Arnaud
Affiliation:
Université Lumière Lyon II
Simon Keay
Affiliation:
University of Southampton
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Summary

Recent years have witnessed a growing scholarly interest in ancient seaports, which consequently have become a research category of their own. Port cities are seen as a specific class of city: in a geographical perspective, ancient cities were topographically and administratively self-contained settlements with large populations which were based upon specialization, division of labour and social differentiation. The city functioned therefore as a central focus for its surroundings in economic but also in political, administrative, religious and cultural terms. These different functions led to a manifoldness of the urban fabric. Port cities are additionally characterized by their geographical position at the waterfront and by the spatial and economic symbiosis between port and city. Because ships provided the most convenient means of transport, port cities served as communication nodes between terrestrial and maritime networks, and were thus the focus of supra-regional trade links connecting the local with the global. Being destinations for immigrants, they became religious melting pots with growing populations who demanded commodities, foodstuffs and services. In view of this, it has been assumed that port societies shared similar religious, social and economic structures. It is further argued that port cities were sufficiently distinctive to form a specific urban type, with the implicit assumption that they were all shaped by identical developments and settings. The aim of this chapter is to scrutinize this underlying assumption of uniformity by focusing on a socially, religiously and economically important phenomenon of Roman port societies, the collegia, and their social integration.

Type
Chapter
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Roman Port Societies
The Evidence of Inscriptions
, pp. 107 - 131
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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