minded of the various societies of Mark Twain Huckleberry Finn. As
Huck and Jim drifted down the Mississippi River, they came to know
various groups of people, each possessing different social organizations, attitudes, customs, and turns of speech, but all united in the
common experience of living on the river.
The processes by which the presence of Roman garrisons influenced local
economies are complex and varied. The general issue is considered by Lothar Wierschowski
, Heer und Wirtschaft: das römische Heer der Prinzipatszeit als
Wirtschaftsfaktor, while particular cases are considered by N. J. Higham and
G. D. B. Jones
, "Frontier, Forts, and Farmers," Archaeological Journal 132 ( 1975): 16-28; and P. A. G. Clack, "The Northern Frontier: Farmers in the Military
Zone," in The Romano-British Countryside: Studies in Rural Settlement and
D. Miles ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 377-402.
It is unlikely, however, that there was anything like a Roman colonization
of the countryside. In the North of England, Belgium, and northern France, where
rural archaeology and aerial photography has been most intense, it would appear
that the development of large estates and small farms was equally the work of
natives, although immigrants from the interior provinces may well have provided
the immediate stimulus. See J. Mertens, "The Military Origins of Some Roman
Settlements in Belgium," in Rome and Her Northern Provinces, ed.
John Wacher, p. 116, for Belgium and northeastern France, and p. 127 for the
North of England; and Edith Wightman, "The Pattern of Rural Settlement in
Roman Gaul," in Aufsteig und Niedergang der römischen Welt, ed.
Wolfgang Haase, vol. 2, part 4: 584-657.
Since many of the goods shipped were bulk items such as hides, grain,
timber, and metals, water routes were preferable to the slower and much less
efficient land routes.
This could include bulk shipment over considerable distances. It should be
remembered that large transfers of goods between Britain and the lower Rhine
were common throughout the frontier period.
5. The basic unit of Roman government was the civitas, or city, and its surrounding pagus, or countryside. Administration, public works, maintenance of
law and order, and the administration of justice were the responsibilities of the
leading citizens of such a district and were concentrated in the civitas. The civitas
was thus somewhat similar to the American county, although some were of considerably greater area.
One might also note that the population of the civitates in the heartland of the
empire was frequently a combination of Roman, Romanized, and native people.
In this regard, the social structure of the frontier civitas did not differ significantly
from that of the interior of the empire.
This characterization is true only of the short run. The long-term situation
of frontier settlements was, of course, much more complex. The history of the
frontier is filled with local revolts, army mutinies, "barbarian" raids and invasions,
and the permanent transfer of military units.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Western Frontiers of Imperial Rome.
Contributors: Steven K. Drummond - Author, Lynn H. Nelson - Author.
Publisher: M.E. Sharpe.
Place of publication: Armonk, NY.
Publication year: 1994.
Page number: 70.
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