Cities in Competition
"Late antique capitals in Italy: Rome and/versus Ravenna" by Neil Christie
The late antique and Byzantine periods marked major changes for cities in Italy and the West especially. Key trends can be observed in the ‘capitals’ of these territories, where extant monuments, texts and archaeology offer sufficient guides to their forms and transformations. But how was power expressed in these? Are we limited to religious structures as indicators of such? This paper considers the ‘old’ and ‘new’ capitals of Italy – Rome and Ravenna: one city with a long, classical heritage and the other far more post-classical in content; each had diverse trajectories and were in opposition on political and religious levels. What types of cityscapes existed in these across c. 500-700 CE? What ‘qualities’ are seen? How ordered are these places and spaces? The paper will open questions on how power and authority might be displayed in cities more generally in the wider, Mediterranean context.
Prof. Dr. Neil Christie is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Leicester and has widely published on the archaeology of late antique and early medieval Italy, and has wider interests in urban and rural changes, barbarian impacts, frontiers and castle formation. He has excavated in Italy, Turkey and England, and led landscape survey projects, and had a major project at Wallingford in Oxfordshire (UK), exploring the early medieval to late medieval townscape. Before joining Leicester, he held postdoctoral fellowships at Oxford and Newcastle and also worked at the British School at Rome.
"Tlemcen in the Early medieval Maghreb: Reconsidering the Construction of Narratives on Competition between Cities" by Jennifer Vanz
In the early medieval Maghreb, new cities were founded, ancient cities disappeared while others remained flourishing urban centres, such as Tlemcen, the ancient Pomaria. If the renewal of archaeology is nowadays decisive for a better understanding of this period, textuals sources are few and written several centuries after the events they described. The aim of this talk will be to examine the place of Tlemcen in the new urban hierarchies during the Idrisid period, in a regional context characterised by a process of urbanisation and competition between cities, reconsidering political, social, economic and ecological factors. The later nature of the sources will then lead us to analyse the reading of the Idrisid past and the narratives of the competition between Fez and Tlemcen, which was carried out, since the beginning of the 14th century, in order to legitimise the new Marinid and Abdelwadid powers.
Dr. Jennifer Vanz (PhD University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, 2016) is lecturer (maitresse de conférences) at University Paris-Est Creteil (UPEC). Her research focuses on the history of the medieval Maghreb from an urban history and environmental perspective and questions the writing of history, the construction of norms and the representations of space. In 2020, she published "L’invention d’une capitale : Tlemcen (VIIe-IXe/XIIIe-XVe siècle)".