Rural Transformations in Middle Republican Central Italy: An Archaeological Perspective

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This paper explores how the sociopolitical, economic, and demographic transformations of the Middle Republican period affected rural settlement and landscape exploitation in Central Tyrrhenian Italy. Two lines of archaeological inquiry are pursued. The first concerns settlement data from three major survey projects: the South Etruria Survey, Rome Suburbium Project, and Pontine Region Project. Despite local variation, these surveys highlight two general changes firmly placed in the late 4th and 3rd centuries BC: an increase in rural site numbers and the rise of specialized commercial farms. The second topic concerns centuriation. It is argued that some field systems, including the centuriation of the Pontine plain, were laid out in the late 4th and early 3rd centuries to reclaim marginal landscapes. Labor-cost analyses suggest such projects involved substantial and sustained investment. The chapter then discusses the implications of these rural transformations in relation to urban contexts and the period’s broader history. Despite continuous warfare, Central Italy apparently witnessed demographic and economic growth, which in turn contributed to Rome’s expansion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaking the Middle Republic
Subtitle of host publicationNew Approaches to Rome and Italy, c.400-200 BCE
EditorsSeth Bernard, Lisa Marie Mignone, Dan-El Padilla Peralta
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781009327978
ISBN (Print)9781009327985
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Roman archaeology
  • Roman Republic
  • Landscape archaeology
  • Survey
  • Rome
  • Socio-economic change

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