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Transformation of Cities in Late Antiquity

Abstract: Cities with gradual development have become the cornerstones of not only the ancient world. Almost all the time the power of the mighty Roman Empire depended on them. The cities there formed the backbone of political power, economy, culture, and education. However, in the late antiquity (in the 4th-6th century AD), this key backbone began to break and change for many reasons, affecting the whole Roman Empire. This period is particularly important as the transitional phase between the Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, which was not so much depended on the prosperous city. Nowadays, when more than a half of the planet's population lives in the cities, the changes that took place in the late-ancient times are drawing attention of modern science. So how did the cities change in late antiquity? What caused these changes? And what followed them? Is there any analogy of a late-ancient city with a modern city today? With the help of archaeological and written sources, in this paper I discuss three distinctive physical features of the late antique urban development - the shrinking of the inhabited area, the Christianization of the internal development and the fortifications. These features highlight some of the possible causes and consequences of ongoing changes in late-ancient cities. In the final part of the paper I try to outline certain analogies with today's modern city.

ŠTĚPÁNEK, Tomáš (2018). Proměna měst v pozdní antice. In: Jiří Kugl, ed. Člověk, stavba a územní plánování 11. ČVUT v Praze, Fakulta stavební pp. 266-281. ISBN 978-80-01-06482-5. ISSN 2336-7695.