Quantifying the spread of Roman citizenship in the province of Asia in the second century CE

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This paper uses data from the province of Asia to challenge a widely-held assumption that the first and second centuries brought progressivegrowth in the representation of Roman citizens within the upper strata of most provincial communities. The analysis is based on three exceptional sets of time-series data: the kouretes lists from Ephesos, the prytany lists from Kyzikos and the lists of delegations to Klaros. These data reveal considerable variety in the trajectory of Roman citizenship over the course of the second century. The proportion of Roman citizens seems to have increased in Ephesos. But it appears to have contracted in some cities (notably Kyzikos and Laodikeia-on-the-Lykos), while stagnating in others (such as Chios, Herakleia Salbake and Phokaia). The paper analyses the underlying processes that explain why the prevalence of Romans might have plateaued and even declined in many cities: a slow-down in imperial grants, continuous social renewal within the upper strata (later accelerated by the Antonine plague), and the pejorative treatment of mixed unions between Roman citizens and peregrines in Roman law. It also discusses the role of patronage in producing a high degree of variation in local histories of Roman citizenship within a single province. Finally, the paper also uses these exceptionally good datasets to illustrate the limitations of the crude data on which local histories of citizenship usually rely – aggregate onomastic corpora or small numbers of attested office-holders – stressing the importance of sample size and the comparability of datasets
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-166
JournalChiron: Mitteilungen der Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2021


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