Building Roman Landscapes: Assessing Roman Economic Exploitation in Southern Etruria During the Republic – Michael S. Teed (Buffalo)

The reasons why Rome expanded into Italy and the Mediterranean during the Republican period have always been an important topic for scholars to examine, as the events of this period heavily influenced Rome’s later actions and identity. The majority of scholarship concerning Roman expansion suggests that Roman bellicosity and the voracious desire for fertile agricultural land led to the Roman expansion in the Republican period.  However, these claims are often based solely on insufficient historical sources and they fail to utilize any archaeological evidence to assess the historicity of these claims. In a small step to address that problem, this study examines the settlement distribution and economic exploitation of a small region in Southern Etruria before and after the Roman arrival using archaeological field survey data from the Civitella Cesi and Vicus Matrini surveys. This is done by examining both Etruscan and Roman site locations on an agricultural suitability map based on Roman preferences for agricultural land. In this way, it is possible to evaluate one aspect of Roman expansionist intentions through the placement of settlements in the most agriculturally suitable areas. While this study is by no means comprehensive, it aims to highlight the possibilities of using new technologies and archaeological data to examine this frequently neglected area of Roman studies.

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