Road work ahead: The use of road construction in Roman Britain by the emperors, spanning from Claudius until Constantine II
LE3 .A278 2017
Bachelor of Arts
The process of road construction in the Roman Empire was ultimately a political activity carried out, usually, by the military. Firstly, this thesis surveys aspects of the state of the field and the progression of scholars toward more modern methods. In addition, there is an analysis of the literary, archaeological and epigraphic sources, especially milestones, employed in this thesis, followed by a case study analysis of the via Augusta and the sources scholars employed when studying it. Next, this thesis addresses road building activities in Roman Britain by the emperors, starting with Claudius (r. 41-54 CE) until the last of the Severan emperors, Severus Alexander(r. 222-235 CE). During these early periods, road construction reflects the need for conquest and assertion of power in the province by the emperor. Additionally, road construction indicates when the emperors were interested in Britain and needed to establish or maintain control in the region. Also, the lack of it correlates to imperial attention directed elsewhere in the Empire. Uniquely from the reigns of the Severans (193-235 CE), the political needs of the emperors manifest themselves in the form of provincial reforms and the creation of the Antonine Itinerary, both illustrating the importance of the roads in Roman Britain. This thesis then addresses the political needs of the emperors following the Severan dynasty. From the start of the period of the Soldier Emperors (235-284 CE) until the end of Roman Britain (c. 410CE), the Roman Empire experienced significant turmoil. Emperors attempted to put forth effective reforms and overall struggled to stay in power. This chaos manifests itself in the road construction of Roman ritain. The milestone data indicates construction efforts by Roman, Gallic, and Britannic emperors, all trying to legitimize their reigns. Overall, this thesis shows that the road systems of Roman Britain reflected the imperial needs of specific emperors, and when their focus was and was not on Britain.
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