We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Classics and Ancient History

Current Research Students

Mr Karl Dahm

Contact Mr Karl Dahm

Research Project: Becoming Capitals – The socio-political dimension of changing urban hierarchies in the provinces of the Roman East under Diocletian

This research project explores the socio-political impact of Diocletian’s administrative reorganisation on urban networks in the Roman East. Towards the end of the third and during the early years of the fourth century many cities were elevated to provincial capitals, which had effects on their communities that have never been systematically analysed. From a selection of case studies, the project will trace changes to the social and political dynamics of these cities, as visible in their honorific and architectural displays as well as in literary texts, and investigate how these related to their previous history and identity.

First, I will compile all available sources for my selected case studies in the manner Rudolf Haensch has already done with provincial capitals for imperial times, thus creating a corpus expandable for future research. Second, I will approach this collection of material by hermeneutical and process-analytical methods in order to identify and compare patterns in the socio-political developments of the individual cities. And third, I will engage with classical elite theory, which will help analyse the self-perception of the involved groups and the changing power relations between them.

Besides contributing to the discussion on how Diocletian’s bureaucratic reforms transformed the administrative apparatus at the local level, the project will engage with the question of how these changes affected pre-existing socio-political landscapes. In a wider sense, the study helps elucidate how central authorities and local elite strata in general interact, and how changes to regional urban hierarchies, implemented by the former, can affect the prospects of the latter.

Is supervised by

Selected Grants

  • 2018: AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership Scholarship
  • 2016: Scholarship by the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes


Book review

Journal Article

  • Dahm, Karl Heiner (2018). Amphorenladungen spätantiker Schiffswracks im westlichen Mittelmeerraum. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Rekonstruktion römischen Seehandels. Antiquité Tardive 26: ca. 13.000 words.