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Phase I Variables (polity-based)

General variables

♠ RA ♣ Enrico Cioni; Edward Turner ♥

♠ Original name ♣ Roman Empire - Dominate ♥

♠ Alternative names ♣ Roman Empire; Eastern Empire; Byzantine Empire ♥

♠ Peak Date ♣ 394 CE ♥ "The Eastern Empire enjoyed an expansion phase c.285-450, when the population and elite numbers were low. The stagflation phase spanned c.450-541, when large estates began to appear again, when elites became more numerous and powerful, and the frequency of elite infighting and sociopolitical instability increased. The Justinian Plague struck in 541 and reduced the common population, gradually halting the expansion of the Eastern Empire, and culminating in the usurpations and civil wars of the seventh century. This was followed shortly thereafter by collapse in the Arab Conquests."[1]

Temporal bounds

♠ Duration ♣ 285-394 CE ♥ The Principate is generally regarded as ending during or just after the crisis of the III century (235-284 CE). The date of 284 CE marks the accession of Diocletian. [2]

Diocletian 284-305 CE.
Tetrarchy 293-313 CE.
Constantinian dynasty 305-363 CE.
Valentinian dynasty 364-378 CE.
Theodosian dynasty 379-457 CE.

"The problem of intraelite conflict appears in Byzantine history after the death of Marcian in 457."[3] 457 CE marks the end of the Theodosian dynasty.

♠ Degree of centralization ♣ unitary state ♥

♠ Supra-polity relations ♣ vassalage ♥ e.g. Ethiopian and Arabian tribes

Supra-cultural relations

♠ preceding (quasi)polity ♣ Roman Empire - Principate ♥
♠ relationship to preceding (quasi)polity ♣ continuity ♥
♠ succeeding (quasi)polity ♣ Western Roman Empire - Late Antiquity ♥
♠ Supracultural entity ♣ Greco-Roman ♥ The entire area of Roman Empire, plus much territory in Britain, northern Europe, central and western Africa, and the Near East and Central Asia.
♠ scale of supra-cultural interaction ♣ 17,000,000 ♥ km^2 Very rough area of Roman Empire, plus extra territory where Roman 'cultural influence' felt

♠ Capital ♣ Nicomedia; Constantinople ♥ The Imperial capital was at Nicomedia under Diocletian.[4] Constantine established Constantinople as the capital of the Roman Empire in 326 CE.[5] "Rome had been for more than two centuries strangely neglected by the rulers who in her name lorded it over the civilised world. Ever since Diocletian's reconstruction of the Empire, it had been a rare event for an Augustus to be seen within her walls. Even the Emperor who had Italy for his portion generally resided at Milan or Ravenna rather than on the banks of the Tiber."[6]

♠ Language ♣ Latin; Greek ♥ "Diversity was visible too in linguistic terms, with a division between the use of Latin as the major public language (used, for instance, in inscriptions) in the western provinces and Greek in the east - although Latin was the official language of Roman law throughout the empire (Millar 1999: 105-8). It should be noted, however, that Latin was phased out as the language of governance and law in the east under Justinian. By then, the east constituted the core of imperial territory, and Latin would likely have been incomprehensible to the larger part of its inhabitants; thus Justinian’s decision was a tardy recognition of everyday realities by the slow-moving engines of the administration." [7] "In Africa, Punic was widely spoken as well as Latin, and in a famous passage of The City of God Augustine reminds the reader that the imperious Roman capital had not only placed the yoke of dominion on defeated peoples; it had also imposed Latin as the official language (Augustine, The City of God, 19, 7)."[8]

General Description

The Roman Principate is generally regarded as ending during or just after the crisis of the 3rd century CE (235-284 CE). The date of 284 CE marks the accession of Diocletian[9] and the period includes the Constantinian Dynasty (305-363 CE), Valentinian Dynasty (364-378 CE) and the early part of the Theodosian dynasty (379-457 CE). According to the historian David Baker, the 'Eastern Empire enjoyed an expansion phase c. 285-450'.[10] The period ends after the reign of Theodosius, the last emperor to rule over both the Eastern and Western halves of the Empire.[11]
Near the end of the 3rd century, beginning at the end of the Severan Dynasty, the Principate nearly collapsed in the face of internal warfare and pressure from external foes, including the Sassanid Persian Empire and nomadic tribes from Germany and eastern Europe. Rome briefly lost control over parts of France, Britain, and southern Spain and suffered several significant losses in battle to the Sassanids. Under first the Emperor Aurelian (r. 270-275 CE) then Diocletian (r. 284-305), all territory was recovered and a series of administrative and economic reforms inaugurated a second phase of the Roman Empire, which we refer to as the Dominate (denoting the increasing centralization of authority and the development of a large bureaucratic apparatus). This period saw notably the increasing popularization of Christianity, culminating in its acceptance as the official state religion under the Emperor Theodosius at the end of the period. The late 3rd century also saw the Empire split into two distinct administrative halves: a Western half, with its capital at Rome, and an Eastern one, ruled first from Nicomedia in Anatolia and then from Byzantium (re-founded as Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul, by the Emperor Constantine I the Great in 330 CE). Each half was ruled by a different emperor along with a junior colleague, titled 'Caesar'. This arrangement is known as the Tetrarchy ('rule of four'), which lasted until Constantine I managed to once again rule both halves together. The Empire was divided a few more times, until Theodosius (r. 379-392 CE) united it for the final time. In 393, Theodosius once more divided the Empire, naming Arcadius Emperor in the East and Honorius Emperor in the West. This marks the end of the Dominate period, leading to a period of instability and, ultimately, the collapse of the Roman state in the west, yet recovery and the continuation of Roman rule in the east (which became known as the Byzantine Empire, after Constantinople's original name).

Population and political organization

During the Dominate period, the power centre of the Roman Empire shifted decisively away from Rome and Italy, beset by decades of crisis and civil infighting, to Anatolia; specifically, to the old Greek city of Byzantium that was re-founded and glorified by the Emperor Constantine I. Before this, Diocletian brought stability back to the Empire after the crises of the 3rd century CE by inaugurating a series of administrative and economic reforms. Although most offices and institutions of the preceding Principate period were retained, Diocletian increased the number of provinces, adding more governors and provincial officials who reported directly to the emperor, and further split the empire into two halves to aid in the administration of such a vast and diverse territory.[12][13] The early Dominate is known for the decline of autonomy, prestige, and power of Rome's provincial elite and the concomitant rapid increase in the power of the central bureaucracy.[14][15][16]
When Constantine I established Constantinople as the capital in 330 CE, he furnished the city with a palace, hippodrome, and a great imperial bureaucracy. In terms of personnel the administration in Constantinople reached its largest extent in the 4th century with 'somewhat over thirty thousand functionaries'.[17] Constantine was the first emperor to vigorously promote Christian religion and his patronage of the Christian church laid the foundations of a Christian empire. 'He built grand churches at the sacred loci of Christianity, including churches celebrating Christ's birth, baptism, and resurrection and Peter's death in Rome. ... Constantine's successors would continue this pattern. Many churches would become quite wealthy. Their clergy were exempt from taxation and other onerous obligations like labor.'[18]
The Empire, creaking under its vast territory of 4.5 million square kilometres, supported a population of up to 70 million people. Rome had lost population from its peak under the Principate, probably supporting around 800,000 in 300 CE and around 500,000 by the beginning of the 5th century. Constantinople also had slightly under 500,000 inhabitants, though it developed rapidly under the patronage of Constantine I and his successors and became the new centre of literacy and culture in the Roman world - rivalling, if not surpassing, Rome herself.[19]

Social Complexity variables

♠ RA ♣ Edward A L Turner ♥

Social Scale

♠ Polity territory ♣ [4,000,000-4,500,000] ♥ [20]

♠ Polity Population ♣ [40,000,000-70,000,000]: 300 CE ♥

The most common general estimate for the empire population is around 60 million, but a figure of 150 million is also conceivable, though highly unlikely [21]. Another estimate is 50 million people (i.e. 5000 administrative units at height. [22]. According to a graph by McEvedy and Jones between 200 CE and 400 CE population of the Roman Empire decreased from about 45 million to 35 million [23].

70 million c.300 CE?

"The Late Roman Empire covered vast amounts of territory (estimated at 3.8 million km2; Issawi 1981: 377) and enjoyed a prolonged period of economic prosperity and demographic expansion between the death of Augustus (14 CE) and the second century. During this phase population density was situated in the upper possible margins of pre-modern times (at roughly 20 inhabitants per km2) with a total population in the magnitude of 74.9 million (Issawi 1981: 377). The anarchy and general economic disarray of the third century will have taken its toll on the population, but we can safely assume that at the beginning of the Byzantine period, in the early fourth century, the demographic state of the empire was similar to that in the second century."[24]

♠ Population of the largest settlement ♣ 800,000 ♥ people. Rome. Peak settlement of Rome generally thought to be c150 CE. By 300 CE still about 800,000 which had decreased to roughly 500,000 by 400 CE. [25]

[150,000-400,000] for Constantinople in the fifth century based on estimates of city size, density of occupation, and archaeological remains.[26].

Hierarchical Complexity

♠ Settlement hierarchy ♣ 7 ♥

1. The capital (e.g. Constantinople)

2. Administrative centers (e.g. Nicomedia, Mediolanum, Antioch, Trier)
3. Provincial capitals (Ephesus, Lugdunum)
provinces had capital cities (e.g. Carthage in Africa Proconsularis, Epehsus in Asia, etc.)
4. Colonies/coloniae (Pompeii in Italy, Cremna in Anatolia, Camulodunum in England) and Municipia (Volubilis in Mauretania)
5. tributary communities, not necessarily urbanized
6. village/vici
7. pagi (rural settlements)

♠ Administrative levels ♣ [8-9] ♥ This number equal to the number of levels in the Egyptian line, plus the Emperor.

The vast Empire, creaking under its 4.5 million km2 extent and up to 70 million people, was reformed by Diocletian (284-305 CE), and his co-Emperor Maximian (286-305 CE), to enable the highest Roman authority to be in more places at once. Already split into East and West under two 'Augusti', now referred to as dominus (lord) rather than princeps (first citizen)[27], they added two 'Caesares', who were to be the deputy and successor for the Emperors.[28][29] The four men ruled from prefectures with capitals at Nicomedia, Mediolanum, Sirmium and Trier, assisted by a powerful Praefectus Praetorio who 'influence military affairs, as he retained control of the main logistical system of the empire.'[30] The system of Tetrarchy ended in farce with four Emperors and one Caesar and the elite conflict ended only in 325 CE after Constantine ensured by force there would be only one Roman Emperor.[31]

Constantine revived the system of four Praetorian Prefects and four prefectures that was developed for the Tetrarchy[32] which became the keystones of provincial government. Prefectures were split into dioceses (of which there were 13 in the Empire, each run by a Vicarii), which contained provinces (run by a governor, 100 existed under Diocletian), which were sub-divided into Decuriones (managed by ordo, or a curia and civitas council).[33][34] Town councils governed vici (military settlements) and coloniae (retirement villages), and settlements were often divided into sections called Municipia.[35] Rural settlements were known as pagi. The Roman provincial system also granted limited powers of self-rule to some regions (e.g. Massilla, Messana and Malta).

1. Emperor

2 Emperors (except during the years of Tetrarchy, 293-313ce, there were 2 emperors and 2 caesars)
286 CE co-regent: Casear (West) and Augusti (East). 293 CE tetrarchy. Two emperors "Augusti", with two vice-emperors "Caesares". Tetrarchy ended c313 CE, Constantine reinstated single Emperor 325 CE.
Two Emperors with the title Augustus, and a junior with the title Casear [36]
Emperor referred to as dominus (lord) rather than princeps (first citizen). [37]

_Central government line_

2. praefectus praetorio
"the most powerful man, after the Emperor, was the praefectus praetorio. He stood at the head of all authorities and military units belonging to the praetorium, the headquarters of the Emperor. Of these functions it was particularly his control of the imperial bodyguard that gave him political prominence. Besides these military duties, he had to assist the Emperor in the performance of his administrative work, and also to act as his representative." [38]

_Provincial government_

2. Pretorian Prefect
4 Pretorian Prefects
Under Diocletian (284-305 CE) Empire's administration reformed into a "tetrarchy" (rule by four): created 4 Prefectures and 12 dioceses (run by a Vicar) which had provinces, and a two Emperor system at the top [39].
Governor of province under control of governor of diocese who was under control of praetorian prefect. [40]
Praetorian prefects second in power only to emperor since they gained control over provincial administrative system. [41]
Praefectus Praetorio Galliarum: Britanniae; Galliae; Viennensis; Hispaniae. Praefectus Praetorio per Orientem: Thracia; Asiana; Pontica; Oriens. Praefectus Praetorio per Illyrium: Moessiae. Praefectus Praetorio Illyrici, Italiae, Africae: Pannoniae; Italia; Africa. [42]
3. Vicarii
13 Vicarii (in charge of dioceses)
Governor of province under control of governor of diocese who was under control of praetorian prefect. [43]
4. Governors/praesides
100 Governors/praesides (provinces)
Under Diocletian provinces divided into 100 units.[44].
Governor of province under control of governor of diocese who was under control of praetorian prefect. [45]
5. Decuriones
governmental divisions within provinces, managed by ordo or curia and civitas council. Also vici (military settlements), coloniae (retirement villages), and municipia (political entities within a settlement). Some regions granted limited powers of self-rule e.g. Massilla, Messana and Malta.
Town councils [46]
6. Settlements
Vici (military settlements) - government by town councils
coloniae (retirement villages) - government by town councils
7. Municipia [47].
political entities within a settlement
Emperors. Prefectures. Dioceses. Provinces. Civitas. Municipia. At lower levels there were village/vici and pagi (rural settlements).
8. Pagi
Rural settlement

_Egyptian line_ [48]

2. Prefect
Appointed by Rome
3. Procurators
Appointed by Rome
Includes finance officer dioiketes (and other department heads)
4. Epistrategoi
Appointed by Rome
Regional administrator, 4 in total
5. Strategos
Appointed by Greco-Egyptians
30 in total
5. Accountant
Appointed by Greco-Egyptians
auditor of the nome
6. District scribe
Appointed by Greco-Egyptians
7. Village scribe
Appointed by Greco-Egyptians
8. Village Elders
Elected or co-opted
9. Liturgists
Compulsory public service

♠ Religious levels ♣ 5 ♥ Christianity 4: 380-457 CE

"Theodosius (r.379-395), made Christianity the legal or "official" religion of the empire."[49]

1. Emperor

"The first seven "ecumenical" ... councils were gathered by the Roman (or, later, Byzantine) emperors."[50]

1. Bishop of a patriarchate

"The churches organized themselves along the lines laid down by the geography and political order of the empire. A city (civitas), along with its surrounding rural perimeter, the foundation of imperial organization, also formed the basic unit of ecclesiastical structure. Virtually every Roman city, many of them quite small, had its own bishop. He exercised his authority over a "diocese" that ordinarily coincided with the boundaries of the civitas. These dioceses were then grouped into provinces, over which a metropolitan, the bishop of a province's principal city, held sway. Eventually, provinces themselves were organized into large "patriarchates," each lead by one of the five preeminent bishops of the church: those in Rome, Constantinople (called "New Rome," second in prestige to the Old), Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem."[51]
2. Metropolitan, with authority over a province
3. Bishop in civitas, with authority over a diocese
4. Presbyters or priests (elders)
"Evidence from the second century suggests that a wide variety of models for local clergy existed throughout the Roman Empire. Yet the one to prevail was a three-tiered, hierarchical. In this model, the bishop served as leader of the local community and was assisted by presbyters or priests (elders) and deacons. Again, this model was established in the Antioch of Ignatius, as he underscores emphatically the necessity of gathering for learning, ritual, and teaching around a single bishop. By the end of the century this three-tiered form of ministry had spread to most early Catholic communities throughout the empire, and it would soon become the sole authoritative manner of organizing local ecclesial communities." [52]
5. Deacons


Cult of Mithra spread from the Parthian Empire to Rome (originated in India? bronze age?). "Contrary to other religions of the same type, such as the cults of Isis and Osiris, Serapis, Dionysus (all well-known examples), Mithraicism eschewed any external manifestations and depended only on its initiatory nature to recruit its followers. ... it gradually became a common faith for soldiers, civil servants, merchants ... The members joined a spirituality of an initiatory type ... shared with a large group of solar faiths ... that promised both a life near to the deity and a personal redemption."[53]

"From the end of the first century B.C.E. we have evidence of a cult coming from the East and gradually and discretely conquering the Roman army and administration (Daniels). This god, previously unknown to the Romans, was called Mithra. Some historians believe (see Plutarch, Pomp. 24.7) that the notorius Cilician pirates defeated by Pompeius propagated this cult when deported in Calabria. We now believe that it was a late transformation of the god Mithra, the friendly protector of contracts .... and defender of true and just causes."[54]

"We must also stress that this god retained, in his manifestation in the Roman Empire, his essential characteristics of friend and guardian of contracts."[55]

"Mithra probably won over even the imperial house. We are wary about the well-known initiation of the emperor Nero to the mysteries of the Magi through Tiridates (see Turcan 1989:237). However, it seems that the emperor Commodus (192) was an unworthy adept of the mysteries, because he was suspected of having killed a fellow-adept during a ceremony simulating a ritual sacrifice. The imperial house had a much worthier adept in Diocletian and his colleagues of the Tetrarchy: Galerius and Licinius. The god is then called the fautor imperii sui, the "protector of the imperial power" (Inscription of Carnuntum in 307)."[56]

Mithraism: "on the social level people learned, in the 'Persic Cavern', to respect the contract linking the human being to the cosmos and to the gods, and then, at least in an implicit way, to respect the emperors, who were divine beings, as intermediaries between the sky and the earth. The faithfulness to a vivifying cosmic order was thus accompanied by faithfulness to the one representing this order on earth. It is not surprising, then, that Mithra was invoked as Jupiter Dolichenus for the salvation of the emperor. In time, a cult ascribed to the enemies gets mixed up with the worship of the protecting gods of Rome!"[57]

♠ Military levels ♣ [6-8] ♥

Crisis of the third century broke army structure. What was reconstituted after 293 CE was very different, although heavy legion infantry remained its core.

"Military command structure of the late Roman Empire"[58]

1. Senate

"wholly nominal role"

1. Emperor in the West

2. Master of the Troops (Magister militum) how distinct are these levels 2-4? are these ranks really at different levels of command or at the same level? - need to check with expert
Eastern empire had two field armies commanded by general called magister militum. Below there were three regional field armies. Legion units had different status: 24 Palatine, 69 Comitatenses, 37 Pseudocomitatenses. Field armies also had auxiliary and cavalry vexillations of Palatine level. [59]
Western empire field army commanded by magister peditum, who commanded legions and auxilia Palatina. Cavalry in western empire had separate commander, magister equitum. [60]
3. Master of foot / Master of horse
4. General in charge of 2 or more legions (Dux)
"The limitanei were to watch the frontiers only. They protected the borders, never moving from their area unless specifically ordered to do so in support of some other limitanei body that was threatened by attack. While the limitanei did not move, the comitatenses, the main field army near the emperor or under the command of his prefects, was always on the march. Each comitatensis was composed of legiones palatinae (the PALATINI) and the vexillationes palatinae. The legions, as they had been known, were replaced by the 1,000-1,500-man legiones palatinae, grouped five at a time into a comitatenses. Joining them was the cavalry, now called the vexillationes, probably numbering the same."[61]
Notitia Dignitatum compiled c420 CE. Data for east empire c395 CE, western empire c400-420 CE. Frontier garrisons (limitanei or ripenses, 50 legionary units) and regional/field armies (comitatus, 120 legionary units). Commanded by senior generals, soldiers called comitatenses. The distinction apparent by 325 CE from the Theodosian Code, but possibly back as far as Diocletian. New cavalry units called vexillations (same name as legionary detachment from earlier period), same privileges as legions. [62]
5. Legionary commander (Legate)
6. Individual soldier


♠ Professional military officers ♣ present ♥ The highest officers in the Roman military system were usually senators not professionals. There were, however, professional junior officers at least from the Roman Principate.

"Typically the men who commanded armies and legions were senators. There were no military specialists in Roman government and no imperial high command. All senators alternated brief periods of military command with administrative posts, participation in domestic politics and careers as legal advocates. As military commanders they were, to a great extent, amateurs, even though most did a brief spell as a junior officer (tribune) in a legion. They would have depended on the professional junior officers (tribunes and centurions) as well as the training and discipline of the legionaries themselves to win battles.""[63]

"Tribunes, like the legionary legate (commander), were drawn from Rome's social and political elite, the senatorial and equestrian orders, and were not professional soldiers. They alternated military service with political, judicial and administrative duties."[64]

♠ Professional soldiers ♣ present ♥ Professional soldiers were present from the beginning of the Roman Principate. "Augustus' main military reforms had the effect of turning the army into a standing force of long-service professionals, instead of the part-time citizen force of the Republic." "Augustus' professionalization of the army entailed creating regular, empire-wide terms of service. In theory, at least, soldiers signed up for a fixed length of service, received regular pay at standard rates set by the state and retired with a bonus provided by the state."[65] Becoming a legionary involved a choice for a professional career. There were professional auxiliaries and 'fleet personnel'.[66]

♠ Professional priesthood ♣ present ♥ Early Roman cults were funded by regular public offerings, large individual donations, and payment for services. The hierarchy could also profit from land ownership. Professionalism of the priesthood likely pre-dates the Roman era as similar patterns are evident in Greek and Egyptian civilization. When the state provided gifts, it was often in the form of a lavish construction, such as a new temple. Examples: priests of Isis were "full-time religious professionals" [67]; Vestals were "supported by the state and were full-time professional clergy, along with the Priestess of Ceres and Proserpina." [68] The Flamen Dialis (the chief priest of Jupiter) was also a professional. He had to follow so many restrictive rules that he was effectively restricted to priestly duties. He could for example not touch horses, iron, etc, and he was not allowed to stand for election. Some priests, however, were not professional. These included the pontifices.

Bureaucracy characteristics

♠ Full-time bureaucrats ♣ present ♥

The power of central government became reestablished in the fourth century; 'foundations were laid [for the] bureaucratic absolute monarchy in which a trained professional civil service attended to the administration of a far-flung empire.'[69] Modeled on the military, the bureaucratic service became known as the militia. Personnel wore a uniform, the highest officials with the most elaborate outfits, and the Centurian's swagger stick was a badge of office.[70] At the same time the administration of justice was 'thoroughly bureaucratized' and 'regular courts, special courts were established to deal with particular matters and categories of persons.'[71] A system of appeals also developed.[72] Before the Roman Dominate there were no specialized court buildings; courts were often held in the basilicas.[73]

"At its largest extent, in the fourth century, the imperial government had somewhat over thirty thousand functionaries ... in the earlier centuries, when the empire was at the height of its power and glory, it employed only a fraction of that number." ... "Fourth cent., A. H. M. Jones (1964), 1057 n.44. The size of the administration in earlier centuries is harder to estimate: Eck (1980: 16) counts some 10,000 in the provinces under Trajan, mostly seconded soldiers ...; independently R. F. Tannenbaum (private communication) estimates a total of some 10,000-12,000 including Rome and Italy, but excluding the central and local adinistration of Egypt."[74]

♠ Examination system ♣ absent ♥ There was no examination system for the Roman bureaucracy.

♠ Merit promotion ♣ inferred absent ♥ Roman administration was typically formed out of a class of hereditary aristocrats. Distinctions between classes of legionary and distinctions between age and experience within the army had been eliminated by Marius in 105 BCE[75] and the Illyrian emperors demonstrate that "low born" individuals could make it to the top of the administrative hierarchy. Since there was no general policy of merit promotion in the Roman bureaucracy - and the promotion of low-born individuals to position of power might be considered a matter of "politics" among aristocrats - the code is inferred absent.

♠ Specialized government buildings ♣ present ♥ The first senate building, the Curia Hostilia, existed from about 600 BCE. [76] The first paving of the Roman Forum occurred around 575-625 BCE. [77] The first coin minted in Rome occurred about 269 BCE (one in Neapolis produced coins slightly earlier, around 281 BCE) and the first state archives was created in 78 BCE. Other buildings include: granaries and storehouses.

Buildings of the imperial bureaucracy, such as the Curia Julia. The Curia Julia was one of the main meeting places of the Roman Senate (later rebuilt under Diocletian after a fire in 283 CE). [78] The Senate also often met in appropriate temples.[79] The old Roman treasury - the aerarium Saturni - was for a time housed in the basement of the Temple of Saturn. There were lots of multi-purpose government buildings: basilicas, imperial fora, and porticos, which were utilized for government functions, such as official meetings or court hearings.Offices of local magistrates and town council buildings were housed in separate buildings. There were market buildings (the Markets of Trajan in Rome). Bathhouses proliferated and, at Rome, were built on an ever-increasingly enormous scale (Baths of Diocletian, opened in 306 CE, occupied an area of almost 35 acres). Other buildings include: granaries and storehouses, mints and state archives.


♠ Formal legal code ♣ present ♥ A formal legal code was first founded in the Twelve Tables of 450-449 BCE. Law thereafter was based on precedent. Our sources of knowledge of Roman law include the forensic speeches of Cicero; the Institutes of Gaius textbook (from 160 CE); and, much later, the sixth century CE Corpus Ius Civilis of Justinian. Wax tablets and papyri (contracts and wills etc.) also provide information on Roman law. [80] However, before this time restrictions on funerary extravagance, from the start of the 6th century, may suggest the Twelve Tables laws (of the Early Republic) codified an existing body of law and legal practices. [81]

Writing c200 CE "Papinian, perhaps the authority on law most respected in late antiquity, listed the sources of the ius civile as statutes (leges), popular resolutions (plebiscita), senatorial enactments (senatusconsulta), decrees of emperors (decreta principum) and the authoritative pronouncements of men learned in law, the jurists (auctoritas prudentium). To these was added the ius honorarium, the law contained in the Edict of the praetor, who, under the Republic and Early Empire administered law in Rome; this form of law derived its name from the praetor's magistracy (honos) and was held to 'assist, supplement or amend' the ius civile.".[82]

Under-Diocletian, Codex Gregorianus (291 CE) - which contained constitutions and rescripts from Hadrian to Diocletian - and Codex Hermogenianus (c295 CE) - which contained supplementary material - became semi-official collections of law. Their authors had access to imperial chancery and the codes were considered authoritative by courts. [83] Throughout the imperial period a new body of law called ius novum developed [84] under the influence of Christianity which replaced the ius vetus. However, law-making was in general unstructured and confused. In 435 CE a commission was appointed to collate all constitutions since Constantine (numbering 3000 constitutions from 312 to 438 CE). The new compendium was published in 438 CE as Codex Theodosianus. [85] Private law (e.g. family law) came increasingly under the jurisdiction of the Christian church. [86]

During this period Mousourakis believes the Emperor's law-making powers grew substantially

Emperor was the source of all laws and the interpretation of the laws. By fourth century CE, "sovereignty of the Roman people deemed to be transferred to the emperor, who existed as the sole authority in all spheres of government: legislative, administrative, judicial, military".[87]
Jurisprudence plummeted as Emperor became sole source of law. [88]
ius civile and ius honararium became no longer distinct [89]
There was a move away from law by precedent (previous cases) to law by general rules [90]
"Judges had lost the freedom and even the ability to engage in creative thinking and form independent judgements." [91]

♠ Judges ♣ present ♥ Professional judges did not exist until the Roman Dominate although at that time their precise role vis-a-vis that of Imperial officials is a matter of debate. [92] Before this time there were no judges as a distinct profession in the Roman system of law. Local magistrates dealt with local matters, provincial governors dealt with provincial matters, and the praetors often dealt with cases in Rome. The Roman people could be duly convened as a final court of appeal in cases involving citizens.

Salvian's "On God's Governance of the World" highlights the corruption among Roman judges in the fifth century: "A transgressor who belongs to the wealthy classes is not punished for his injustice, while a poor man, who does not understand business, undergoes the legal penalty, that is, if he does not depart this life before the trial, so long is the course of lawsuits protracted, and so much money is expended on them. The climax of the misery is to have to pay in order to obtain justice. For no one will give a court to the injured man unless he pay a sum of money to the judge and the judge's clerks." [93]

♠ Courts ♣ present ♥ During the Roman Dominate administration of justice was "thoroughly bureaucratized" and "regular courts, special courts were established to deal with particular matters and categories of persons." [94] Also, a system of appeals developed.[95] Before this time there was no specialised court building. Courts could be held in the basilicas[96] (introduced by the 3rd Century BCE[97]) where a provincial governor could an hold audience or in the Roman forum. Basilicas were multi-purpose buildings a place for banking and money-changing and town hall activities. The forum was a multi-purpose building which had existed since the Roman Kingdom.

♠ Professional Lawyers ♣ present ♥ Law specialists first existed during the Principate when they commanded fees for their expertise. We know this because Emperor Claudius attempted to "limit the fees of advocates, which had become intolerably heavy" to protect "women and other helpless litigants from the rapacity of their lawyers." [98] The first law school in Rome, for persons who wished to pursue career in the Imperial civil service, was established late second century CE. A second school was established in Beriut in the early third century. Further schools of law were established in Alexandria, Caesaria, Athens, Constantinople, Carthage and Augustodunum. [99] "Professional" lawyers (causidici, advocati) replaced orators (oratores) during the Roman Dominate period.[100] Leo I (460 CE) demanded some lawyers produce a certificate proving their professional instruction, a requirement which was later demanded in the provinces. [101]

Specialized Buildings: polity owned

♠ irrigation systems ♣ present ♥ Irrigation systems present from earlier periods (e.g. in Egypt) and maintained during Roman Dominate.
♠ drinking water supply systems ♣ present ♥ Arsinoe, a metropolis in Egypt (the capital town of a nome) "had running water supplied by two reservoirs into which water was pumped from an arm of the Nile." [102]
♠ markets ♣ present ♥ [103]
♠ food storage sites ♣ present ♥ Grain stores. The prefect of the market looked after grain supplies from Egypt. [104]

Transport infrastructure

♠ Roads ♣ present ♥ Roads present from earlier periods and maintained during Roman Dominate.
♠ Bridges ♣ present ♥ Bridges present from earlier periods and maintained during Roman Dominate.
♠ Canals ♣ present ♥ Canals present from earlier periods and maintained during Roman Dominate.
♠ Ports ♣ present ♥ Ports present from earlier periods and maintained during Roman Dominate.

Special purpose sites

♠ Mines or quarries ♣ present ♥


Writing System

♠ Mnemonic devices ♣ ♥
♠ Nonwritten records ♣ present ♥
♠ Written records ♣ present ♥ The 4th and 5th centuries were a "golden age" for patristic literature. [105]
♠ Script ♣ present ♥
♠ Non-phonetic writing ♣ absent ♥
♠ Phonetic alphabetic writing ♣ present ♥

Kinds of Written Documents

♠ Lists, tables, and classifications ♣ present ♥
♠ Calendar ♣ present ♥
♠ Sacred Texts ♣ present ♥ The Bible.
♠ Religious literature ♣ present ♥ Julian the Aspotate (331-363 CE).[106] Augustine of Hippo (born 354 CE, Thagaste, Numidia). Confessions of St. Augustine, City of God, On Christian Doctrine. Also under theology.
♠ Practical literature ♣ present ♥ Cyrillus, Patricius, Exodius, Leontius, Amblichus, and Demosthenes preserved work of classical jurists, later important for the post-Dominate Justinian codification of Roman law. [107] Vegetius, a military writer (c400 CE). [108]
♠ History ♣ present ♥ Ammianus Marcellinus (330-391 CE)
♠ Philosophy ♣ present ♥ Augustine of Hippo (born 354 CE, Thagaste, Numidia). Confessions of St. Augustine, City of God, On Christian Doctrine. Also under theology.
♠ Scientific literature ♣ inferred present ♥ Medical literature implied by the existence of court physicians. [109]
♠ Fiction ♣ present ♥ e.g. Ausonius (4th c CE)


♠ Articles ♣ present ♥ Wheat and other agricultural products were often used as stores of wealth.[110] During the Roman Dominate due to debasement of the currency and high inflation there was a reversion to exchange-in-kind for many payments, e.g. to soldiers, and for some taxes. [111].
♠ Tokens ♣ {absent; present} ♥ Spintria may have been used in the Principate to pay prostitutes although it is also argued that these were gaming pieces.
♠ Precious metals ♣ present ♥ gold was used as a store of wealth (cf J.-M. Carrié 2003 "Solidus et Credit") and conceivably was used for payment.
♠ Foreign coins ♣ inferred absent ♥ Rawson states "Rome did not ... impose a common coinage over her sphere of influence, unlike Athens."[112] However, by the Roman Dominate a common coinage had spread across the Empire. [113]
♠ Indigenous coins ♣ present ♥ Rome produced its first coin about 281 BCE, a Greek-style silver didrachma, minted in Neapolis (and twelve years later coins were minted in Rome.) Prior to end of Second Punic War (end 201 BCE) many coins were produced by communities other than Rome. Monetary and economic unity from Rome was achieved by the early 1st century BCE. [114] Roman coins included the silver denarius, silver Sestertius and gold aureus.[115]
♠ Paper currency ♣ absent ♥ The Romans did not use paper currency in any period.

Postal System

♠ Couriers ♣ inferred present ♥ "Before Augustus, Romans wanting to post a letter had to find a courier wherever they could, and work out the arrangements for delivery ad hoc. But by Cicero's day [i.e. c100 BCE] there had evolved a number of fairly regular means by which one could send a letter." This included "a private system of letter carriers maintained by the publicani, whose business of collecting taxes in the provinces necessitated a reliable means of communication over long distances... a private individual could arrange for these couriers, called tabellarri, to carry personal letters along with the business correspondence of their companies."[116]
♠ Postal stations ♣ present ♥ Cursus Publicus, established by Augustus. "A series of postal stations connected by wagon and horse relays along the major trunk roads of the Empire". [117] Carried private and state post.
♠ General postal service ♣ present ♥ Cursus Publicus, established by Augustus. "A series of postal stations connected by wagon and horse relays along the major trunk roads of the Empire". [118] Carried private and state post.

Warfare variables

♠ RA ♣ Edward A L Turner ♥

Military Technologies

Military use of Metals

♠ Copper ♣ inferred present ♥ Copper alloy may have had minor role in armour.
♠ Bronze ♣ present ♥ present in preceding polity in shields [119]
♠ Iron ♣ present ♥ present in preceding polity in shields [120]
♠ Steel ♣ present ♥ present in preceding polity


♠ Javelins ♣ present ♥ Spears and javelins: spiculum, verutum, lancea .[121]
♠ Atlatl ♣ absent ♥ New World weapon
♠ Slings ♣ present ♥ [122]
♠ Self bow ♣ absent ♥
♠ Composite bow ♣ present ♥ Archers [123] Regiments of archers with composite bows. [124]
♠ Crossbow ♣ present ♥ manuballistae [125] "The use of the hand-crossbow in Europe thus divides into two quite distinct periods, the first between about -100 and +450; the second beginning in the +10th century."[126]
♠ Tension siege engines ♣ present ♥ Cart-mounted catapults. [127]
♠ Sling siege engines ♣ absent ♥
♠ Gunpowder siege artillery ♣ absent ♥
♠ Handheld firearms ♣ absent ♥

Handheld weapons

♠ War clubs ♣ absent ♥ Use of atlatls, war clubs, battle axes and polearms does not appear to be supported by evidence.
♠ Battle axes ♣ absent ♥ Use of atlatls, war clubs, battle axes and polearms does not appear to be supported by evidence.
♠ Daggers ♣ inferred present ♥
♠ Swords ♣ present ♥ long double-edged sword (spatha). [128] "The Tetrarchs" statue shows swords from this period. Sword long bladed spatha, by third century CE, [129]
♠ Spears ♣ inferred present ♥ Roman cavalry were not traditionally horseback archers. Inferred that they carried lances.
♠ Polearms ♣ unknown ♥

Animals used in warfare

♠ Dogs ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Romans kept geese as intruder alarms along with sentry dogs as they were more sensitive to intruders.[130]
♠ Donkeys ♣ present ♥ Were domesticated in Egypt, possibly used as pack animals in warfare. [131]
♠ Horses ♣ present ♥ [132]
♠ Camels ♣ [absent; present] ♥ For TrByzM1 expert commented that camels were used as pack animal in Cappadocia, in Anatolia.
♠ Elephants ♣ absent ♥


♠ Wood, bark, etc ♣ present ♥ used in preceding polity in shields [133]
♠ Leather, cloth ♣ present ♥ used in preceding polity in shields [134]
♠ Shields ♣ present ♥ Oval or round [135] [136]
♠ Helmets ♣ present ♥ Ridged or bowl [137]
♠ Breastplates ♣ inferred present ♥ Iron breastplates used during the Principate.[138]
♠ Limb protection ♣ inferred present ♥ manicae arm protection and greaves for lower-leg protection existed in earlier period.[139]
♠ Chainmail ♣ present ♥ [140] [141]
♠ Scaled armor ♣ present ♥ Scaled armor. By this time lorica segmentata had disappeared. [142]
♠ Laminar armor ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Plate armor ♣ absent ♥ During the Principate there was lorica segmentata, as depicted on Trajan's Column. "Strips of iron held together and articulated with leather straps and copper alloy fittings" [143] By this time lorica segmentata had disappeared. [144]

Naval technology

♠ Small vessels (canoes, etc) ♣ absent ♥
♠ Merchant ships pressed into service ♣ absent ♥ Transport vessels existed. [145]
♠ Specialized military vessels ♣ present ♥ The standard warship was a trireme, a ship with three banks of oars, and equipped with rams. "One of the largest naval engagements in Antiquity occurred in 468 when the emperors Anthemius (in the West) and Leo I (in the East) combined forces to send an invasion fleet of 1,113 ships, each reputedly with 100 men aboard, against the Vandal kingdom of Carthage. The king of the Vandals Geiseric engaged the Romans off of Cap Bon (Tunisia) with a fleet of 600 ships. In the ensuing battle, the Vandals’ use of fire ships proved decisive, destroying about half of the Roman fleet."[146] 400 CE Imperial fleet of Arcadius. [147]


♠ Settlements in a defensive position ♣ present ♥ Army camps built all over the Empire in preceding Roman Principate. [148]
♠ Wooden palisades ♣ present ♥ Fortifications including wooden forts present in preceding Roman Principate
♠ Earth ramparts ♣ present ♥ present in preceding Roman Principate
♠ Ditch ♣ inferred present ♥ Coded present for the Roman Empire - Principate. Existing fortified places which had ditches may have been maintained into this period.
♠ Moat ♣ inferred present ♥ A ditch filled with water would not have been beyond the technological capabilities of the Romans during this period but did they use/need them?
♠ Stone walls (non-mortared) ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Stone walls (mortared) ♣ present ♥ present in preceding Roman Principate [149]
♠ Fortified camps ♣ present ♥
♠ Complex fortifications ♣ present ♥ in preceding Principate: Hadrian's wall. 15 feet high for 73 miles. Milecastle every Roman mile up to 21 feet high. Milecastle could house 60 troops. Between Milecastles, two watchtowers with centuries. 17 large forts along wall home to 1000 soldiers. Nine foot ditch dug at base of wall while a Vallum behind (120 ft wide ditch) ran the entire length of the stone wall. 15-20000 men used to build. 5 year build. [150].
♠ Long walls ♣ 0 ♥ City wall built around Trier. In existence by 355 CE. It as 3 metres thick, 6 metres high, and extended 6 kilometres. The wall had 75 towers built into it. [151] However, this wall which circumvents a city does not count as a "long wall."
♠ Modern fortifications ♣ absent ♥

Phase II Variables (polity-based)

Institutional Variables

♠ RA ♣ Edward A L Turner ♥

Limits on Power of the Chief Executive

Power distributed

♠ Constraint on executive by government ♣ absent ♥ this doesn't include Tetrarchic rulers who had some power over each other
♠ Constraint on executive by non-government ♣ absent ♥
♠ Impeachment ♣ absent ♥

Social Mobility


Elite status

♠ elite status is hereditary ♣ present ♥

Religion and Normative Ideology

♠ RA ♣ Enrico Cioni ♥ The name of the research assistant or associate who coded the data. If more than one RA made a substantial contribution, list all.

Deification of Rulers

♠ Rulers are legitimated by gods ♣ {absent;present} ♥ Traditionally, Emperors based rule on military/familial grounds, although was religious component to their rule certainly. After Constanitne's rule (but not really during his rule, even after his conversion to Christianity), Emperors (with some exceptions, e.g. Julian) ruled more explicitly in terms of guarding and promoting Christian ideology, chosen as one of god's representatives and agents
"Undoubtedly the most salient feature of Roman republican religion lies in the fact that religious authority and religious institutions were tightly interwoven with political authority and the political institutions of the res publica. [...] There was no separate priestly class in which religious authority was vested, but the same men who made decisions regarding the relationships of the Roman community with other human communities also made the decisions regarding its relationship with the divine community." [152]

♠ Rulers are gods ♣ absent ♥ "Ruler worship is not generally considered characteristic of Roman society during the republican period (conventionally 509-31 BC), a period during which the polity developed from a conventional city-state to a regional hegemon and finally a territorial empire controlling the entire Mediterranean basin and its immediate hinterlands. Properly speaking, the cult of the emperors extended from the accession of the first emperor, Octavian/Augustus (conventionally dated to 31 BC.) to the conversion to Christianity of the emperor Constantine in AD 312. framed in these terms, divine kingship in rome is a phenomenon limited to the early empire, commonly termed the Principate." [153] However, Woolf also argues that "if the Greek world before Alexander, or rome before Augustus, seem to be worlds without ruler cult, this is in part a result of us defining the latter in a rather narrow form." [154]

Normative Ideological Aspects of Equity and Prosociality

♠ Ideological reinforcement of equality ♣ present ♥ Christian ethic of equality [155]

♠ Ideological thought equates rulers and commoners ♣ present ♥ Christian ethic of equality [156]
♠ Ideological thought equates elites and commoners ♣ {absent; present} ♥ "Most of its judicial privileges, and most of our evidence for how the ideology of status affected justice, 'were grounded not in legislative enactment, but in administrative rules, customary practices, and ultimately the social attitudes of the ruling elite.'" [157] Christian ethic of equality [158]. In spite of growing importance of Christian beliefs, rulers did much to distance themselves from rest of population through ritual activity for most of this period[159]Imperial Cult still acknowledged, although its religious character changed slightly under Christian emperors[160] Practical social/political differences were tolerated, but was ideological principle of equality. Christian ethic of equality [161]

♠ Ideology reinforces prosociality ♣ present ♥

♠ production of public goods ♣ inferred absent ♥ although great ideological force for prosociality and charity throughout this period, traditional concern for 'civic duty' including public goods diminished as Christian ethic of individual responsibility and prosociality (being moral, looking after less fortunate through alms) become more prominent. Emperor and ruling class still engaged in public goods (urban infrastructure), but less reinforced among non-ruling and provincial elites as it had been during principate [162]

Moralizing Supernatural Powers

♠ Moral concern is primary ♣ absent_to_present ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is certain ♣ absent_to_present ♥
♠ Moralizing norms are broad ♣ absent_to_present ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is targeted ♣ present ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement of rulers ♣ present ♥
♠ Moralizing religion adopted by elites ♣ present ♥
♠ Moralizing religion adopted by commoners ♣ present ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement in afterlife ♣ present ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement in this life ♣ present ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is agentic ♣ present ♥

These data were reviewed by expert advisors and consultants. For a detailed description of these data, refer to the relevant Analytic Narratives, reference tables, and acknowledgements page. [163] [164] [165]


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