this issue
previous article in this issuenext article in this issue

Document Details :

Title: Milestones and Instability (Mid-Third to Early Fourth Centuries AD)
Author(s): SAUER, Eberhard W.
Journal: Ancient Society
Volume: 44    Date: 2014   
Pages: 257-305
DOI: 10.2143/AS.44.0.3044807

Abstract :
Traditionally milestones of all periods of imperial history were thought to attest road construction or repair, and some believe that they were composed or sanctioned by central authorities or even the emperor himself. Others have persuasively argued that later stones are often unrelated to roadworks or official propaganda. The scholarly community remains nonetheless evenly split between those who hold on to the traditional view and those who do not. This article is the first to demonstrate mathematically that the disproportionally strong representation of short-lived emperors of the mid-third to early fourth century cannot be a coincidence and that milestone erection increasingly peaks when governors or local authorities felt a need to demonstrate their political allegiance, notably after the accession of new emperors and imperial princes. Local initiative accounts for distinct regional differences in chronology and wording of milestone inscriptions. One of the most common inscribed monuments of this period thus provides evidence for political instability rather than maintenance of traffic infrastructure.

Download article