A New Golden Age? The Northern Praefectura Urbi from the Severans to Diocletian
This chapter shows that in the region to the north of Rome (Regio VII), which is taken as representative of Italy, the cities where so much public investment was made in the first and second centuries were by the start of the third in clear decline. Contraction of inhabited zones, reuse of old marble for new inscriptions with inferior scripts, abandonment of rural habitations — these are well-documented signs. Yet economic difficulty is not the only cause: changes in landholding patterns, in particular the acquisition of vast tracts of countryside by the imperial purse, played a part. Ideology as well as greed was to blame.
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