The Roman Empire in the mid first century AD was an empire in transition.
As you have heard, following the rebuilding of the Roman Empire after the Civil Wars by Augustus in the later 1st century BC and the early 1st century AD, the reign of the Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54) witnessed major changes. Its boundaries were extended with the addition of new provinces, such as Britain and Mauretania.
Populations within the Empire were brought under tighter control with the establishment of colonies and roads, while important steps were also taken in the gradual process of incorporating free-born provincials into its political structure, by granting some of them Roman Citizenship.
Furthermore, the study of the material culture of populations in the west and the east reveals how city-dwellers were gradually starting to adopt or adapt new social, artistic and linguistic practices mediated by Rome, as a way of participating in the cultural life of the Roman Empire. Claudius was also concerned to ensure that the growing population of the City of Rome was well supplied with grain and other key foodstuffs by establishing the capacious new harbour at Portus, and providing financial incentives to shippers to transport the grain to it. These increased grain imports could not feasibly be brought directly to Ostia.
In case you wondered, the building shown behind Simon is called ‘Building 3’. This is a rather less exciting term than the one we use most commonly in the course – the Palazzo Imperiale
or Imperial Palace. You will get to know this very well, and in particular during the time we will focus on the results of the latest fieldwork in Italy in Week Six.
Was the Claudian period in Italy how you imagined?
Next, Dragana will provide us with a quick summary of the phases of Portus. You might want to create your own hand written or digital timeline at this point, to help to keep track of what is happening when.
Before then, why not share with other learners what you think the first century AD was like in the country where you live? It would be good to get a global impression of the context for the things we are describing here.