Port cities as trans-shipment nodes. Archaeological research at port cities of the western and central Mediterranean at the footbridge to Late Antiquity

→ Gregor Utz

The dissertation project focuses on important port cities of the western and central Mediterranean during the period of the 3rd – 5th century AD. Thereby the archaeological artefacts – above all ceramics, but also glass products, marble etc. – deriving from different assemblages (surveys, excavations, museums) are to be analyzed in a quantitative and qualitative manner in order to generate the broadest possible picture of the economic activities in these port cities. They are furthermore nodal points concerning the exchange of goods as well as indicators concerning the supply previous to their distribution to the city or the hinterland; because of these they are ideal signifiers of economic change; convenient examples therefore are maritime ports like Portus, Classe or Ravenna, but also river ports near the coast like Aquileia. The battery of questions touched by the analysis draws a wide bow: from the range, quality and quantity of maritime trade in the Late Roman Empire to the change in quality and quantity of the imported goods; from the role of the local production and possible technology transfer to the question, whether port cities follow the common trend in the development of the Roman Empire or operate independently of the political and social areas of tension – in a period which is often called the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire.


Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dirk Steuernagel (Regensburg), Prof. Dr. Michael Heinzelmann