Urbes Thraciarum in Late Antiquity: an archaeological assessment of the cities of Thracia from Diocletian to Maurice (284-602)
Reed, Mark William Fraser
This thesis is a critical analysis of the archaeological remains of the major urban centres of the late antique province of Thracia between the late 3rd and early 7th century. The first part presents the material evidence that has been recovered through excavation and other means from the cities of Thracia and assesses the validity of conventional interpretations of urban character and development in the region. Thereafter, the second part examines areas in which features of the Thracian cities overlap and situates the urban centres within a wider regional context. Following the establishment of the province of Thracia in the late 3rd century, the region was dominated by three large urban centres: Philippopolis, Augusta Traiana-Beroe, and Diocletianopolis. In the 4th century, cities that existed prior to Late Antiquity displayed a high level of continuity with previous eras, particularly in their public buildings and infrastructure. The first Christian buildings also began to appear in the cities of Thracia during the mid-4th century, although the development of a Christian urban topography truly accelerates only starting in the 5th century. Conversely, the private domestic buildings of the urban elite were some of the most varied elements of each Thracian city but no new residential buildings were built after the 4th century. Instead, the existing residences were maintained, repaired, or used for a different purpose. The division and repurposing of space was not limited to domestic areas, however, and was particularly prevalent in Thracian cities after the late 5th century. In the 6th and early 7th century, most of the public buildings are no longer in use but the cities continue to exhibit vitality and are inhabited into the later periods. Accordingly, the destructive effects of the various Gothic, Avar, and Slavic incursions on the fortified urban centres of Thracia are often overstated in modern literature.