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The Transition to Late Antiquity, on the Danube and Beyond$
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Andrew Poulter

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264027

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264027.001.0001

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Nicopolis ad Istrum: Backward and Balkan?

Nicopolis ad Istrum: Backward and Balkan?

(p.375) 15 Nicopolis ad Istrum: Backward and Balkan?
The Transition to Late Antiquity, on the Danube and Beyond


British Academy

The story of Nicopolis ad Istrum and its citizens exemplifies much that is common to the urban history of the whole Roman Empire. This chapter reviews the history of Nicopolis and its transition into the small fortified site of the fifth to seventh centuries and compares it with the evidence from the Near East and Asia Minor. It argues that Nicopolis may not have experienced a cataclysm as has been suggested, and that, as in the fifth and sixth century west, where landowning elites showed a striking ability to adapt and survive, there was an important element of continuity on the lower Danube, which in turn may account for the distinctive ‘Roman’ element in the early medieval Bulgar state. It also suggests that the term ‘transition to Late Antiquity’ should be applied to what happened at Nicopolis in the third century: what happened there in the fifth was the transition to the middle ages. This chapter also describes late antique urbanism in the Balkans by focusing on the Justiniana Prima site.

Keywords:   Nicopolis ad Istrum, urbanism, Roman Empire, Near East, Asia Minor, cataclysm, lower Danube, Late Antiquity, Balkans, Justiniana Prima

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