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Title: A Quantitative Approach to Urbanism in the Northern Districts of Africa Proconsularis in the Mid-Third Century AD
Author(s): DE LIGT, Luuk
Journal: Ancient Society
Volume: 53    Date: 2023   
Pages: 201-293
DOI: 10.2143/AS.53.0.3292441

Abstract :
The northern part of the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis was one of the most densely urbanised regions of the Roman empire. Drawing on a combination of epigraphic and archaeological evidence, this study estimates the number of self-governing cities and towns in this region as 219. By the mid-third century CE 108 of these urban centres were coloniae or municipia. Precisely because the number of ‘official’ cities was so high, there was little room for secondary agglomerations operating as ‘functional towns’, except in the vast territories of Thabraca, Hippo Regius, Sicca Veneria and Ammaedara. Although production for export and commerce evidently contributed to the prosperity of a considerable number of cities in northern Proconsularis, an examination of relationships between the size of cities and the size of urban territories suggests that almost all cities could be sustained by the crops grown in their administrative hinterlands. The large city of Carthage was a partial exception, but it must not be overlooked that the urban elite of this city owned large tracts of lands throughout northern Proconsularis. These property structures continued to exist after the huge pertica Carthaginiensis was dismantled in the late second and early third centuries.

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