Theses Doctoral

Public Construction under Diocletian. A study of State Involvement in Construction in Roman Era Towns in Present Day Tunisia and Eastern Algeria

Hellstrom, Monica

This study traces the development of building inscriptions in Roman North Africa, in order to understand the rich epigraphic record testifying to public construction during the reign of Diocletian. In particular, it examines the role of the imperial government in construction, both in how it itself built and how it related to locals who did. Treating construction as a form of communication between builder and society, I have examined the claims made by the state as it took on the role of builder, and to what social groups these claims were directed. A wide approach has been called for to understand the role played by public construction - and by broadcasting it through inscriptions - for the negotiation of influence in the province. I have examined the activities of both imperial and local builders, which has revealed well defined conventions as to what and where to build, and how to communicate it. Against this backdrop, I have traced the relations of the Diocletianic government to a number of social strata, as expressed through building inscriptions, from rural entrepreneurs and small town councilors to Carthaginian senators. An image has emerged of a government that was keenly aware of the social makeup of the province, and deeply invested in its economic fabric, concerned with maintaining a viable, small scale network of independent municipalities as a counterweight to the interests of the highest elites, while at the same time maintaining stable relations to said elites.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Bagnall, Roger S.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 22, 2014