This research project, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and directed by Prof. Dr. Sabine R. Huebner will illustrate the contribution of Roman and late antique Egypt to urban history, through the example of two ancient cites: Antinoopolis and Heracleopolis.Urban studies in the premodern world have figured prominently on the research agenda of archaeologists, historians, and other scholars seeking to provide a long-term perspective on world urbanization. Despite a wide array of publications, whether for reference, course instruction, or the wider public, bear witness to this unwavering interest in ancient cities, finding relevant models for the organization of increasingly dense human settlement represents an enduring challenge, to which ancient studies should indeed make a contribution.
Ancient Egypt represents an underestimated reservoir of data for the analysis of urban evolution in the premodern world: in particular Middle Egypt, in Roman and Byzantine times, was home to vibrant and important cities, such as Oxyrhynchus, Hermopolis Magna, Antinoopolis, Heracleopolis Magna and more. Despite those sites are less well-preserved and tragically famous compared to others like Palmyra or Pompeii, they provide nonetheless unparalleled data on the development of cities in a Roman province and their transformation under Byzantine rule.
The project will focus on the integration and convergence of archaeological and textual data by means of prosopographical and geographical digital tools and provide holistic depictions of human activity on these sites through the genre of urban biographies. All data will be in open access via the on-line prosopography and the GIS platform will provide a robust foundation for the study of social, economic, cultural and political life in an important city of Roman and late antique Egypt.