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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Dr Robert Witcher

Witcher, R.E. (2005). The Extended Metropolis: Urbs, Suburbium and Population. Journal of Roman Archaeology 18: 120-138.

Author(s) from Durham


The relationship between Rome and its surrounding territory has long been a focus of historical and archaeological study and debate. This paper aims to add to this discussion in two specific ways. First, it questions and dismisses the pervasive dichotomy between metropolis and hinterland. Second, it uses regional field survey data to quantify the population of the early imperial suburbium. The paper explores the nexus of social, political and economic flows in order to assess the interaction and integration of metropolis and suburbium. The chronological focus is the early imperial period (c.27BC-AD100). Particular attention is placed upon the degree to which rural populations can be considered not simply as 'rustici' but as a sizeable and integral part of the population of Rome itself. The conclusions suggest that considering metropolis and suburbium as a single unit has important implications for the study not only of rural areas, but also for the city of Rome itself, and for studies of the Roman Italy in general.