Alexandria Digital Research Library

Virtue from necessity in the urban waterworks of Roman Asia Minor

Bricker, Brianna Lynn
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Art history
Degree Supervisor:
Fikret K. Yegul
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Archaeology and Art history
Roman Asia Minor
Water management
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2016

The period of Roman rule is marked by the stark transformation of cities across the Mediterranean. Aqueducts, baths, and fountains sprouted up from the prosperous conditions of the high imperial period, and with the introduction of urban forms and practices emerged a shared cultural community out of diverse peoples. Local variation of course persisted, and my dissertation project interrogates the specificity of place in this process. I examine the transformation of the cities of Asia Minor over the course of Roman rule (133 BCE -- 620 CE) through the lens of topography and water management, asking how local culture and sense of place profoundly affected the form and the extent to which resources and technologies of empire brought change.

I focus on the interconnection of topography, infrastructure, and urban image in four cities: Side, Aizanoi, Arykanda, and Rhodiapolis, which represent a range of topographical situations and a shared entanglement with Roman technology and culture. I first use the evidence of topographical, archaeological, and textual records to analyze the influence and role of water in shaping the city physically, culturally, and perceptually. I next look at the forces that spurred the intensification or reconfiguration of water management and use, arguing that homogeneity in infrastructural elements was only one aspect that contributed to urban character; their urban context and the histories allowing for their creation brought an inherently local quality to empire-wide forms. Lastly I examine how socio-political structures altered the way water was exploited and made available, considering the physical effects of water on the social body, and how seemingly ordinary encounters with the urban water network signaled deeper, more complex systems of power.

My study shows how the power of place shaped the nature of this interaction more deeply than previously considered. I call for a change in the way one thinks about regional cities and urban transformation under Roman rule. Roman forms altered the existing urban character and created forms and practices shared across the empire. However, these forms were perceived differently based on topographic and cultural landscape upon which they were imprinted; locale and locals changed the meanings.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (268 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Brianna Bricker
File Description
Access: Public access
Bricker_ucsb_0035D_12985.pdf pdf (Portable Document Format)