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Roman, Greek and indigenous elements in the Pontic cities

Jesper Majbom Madsen

In the subproject, I shall focus on the institutions introduced by Rome to establish new urban communities in the Pontic inland and on the parallel attempts to create a politically active body of citizens essental to a civil society. Scholars have argued that the population in the Eastern provinces was less affected by the coming of Rome than provincials in the West and stressed that the cities founded in the East were modelled on the polis culture; therefore, the region was 'Hellenised' rather than 'Romanised' (e.g., Bowersock 1965, 72; MacMullen 2000, 4-7). Others have emphasised the impact of Roman political institutions (Mitchell 1993 I, 88-89). Our region offers a unique opportunity to compare the development of Roman institutions grafted onto existing Greek communities on the coast with those in cities founded ab ovo in the inland territories.

Much previous scholarship has been blinkered by an orientalist discourse, viewing the Greek and Roman archaeology and history of Anatolia as monuments to "western civilisation", not as a part of the historical heritage of present-day Turkey. A similar discourse has led many scholars to over-emphasise the differences between a "Roman" West and a "Greek" East. By rejecting such dichotomistic concepts, I hope to trace how Roman and Greek elements were fused to create and maintain viable civic cultures in the Pontic cities.

Bowersock, G.W. 1965. Augustus and the Greek World. Oxford.
MacMullen, R. 2000. Romanization in the Time of Augustus. New Haven, RI.
Madsen, J.M. 2009. Eager to be Roman: Greek Response to Roman Rule in Pontus and Bithynia. London.
Mitchell, S. 1993. Anatolia I-II. Oxford.