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Post-Roman city in South Pannonia – example of Cibalae
Anita Rapan Papeša
Puni tekst: pdf (515 KB),
Str. 7 - 30
Using Cibalae as example, this paper discusses the Roman city in South Pannonia after the breakdown of Roman rule under significantly changed political, economic and demographic conditions at the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. The purpose of the paper is establishing the basic processes of urban degradation of the Roman Cibalae and its transformation with particular respect to archaeological topography in Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages. In relation to that, the paper details the circumstances of urban structure degradation, identifies the shifts in the settlement of the area and analyses the testimonies to the presence of new populations.
The Cibalae example is symptomatic of the destiny of most late antique cities in South Pannonia. The somewhat prosperous urban community for the duration of the entire 4th century, Cibalae was exposed to a rapid decline since the end of the same century, primarily due to utterly unfavourable military and political conditions within the Sava-Drava-Danube confluence. During the period, the city experienced the degradation and reduction of its urban space, a logical consequence of a significant loss of urban population, finally turning into a rural environment. The fi ndings testifying to the everyday life in Cibalae become sporadic and rare since the beginning of the 5th century. The Huns’ period, as it seems, dealt the final blow to the urbanicity of Cibalae. The city could not even rely on its bishop, since the Cibalae diocese ceased existing in the fi rst half of the 5th century, as much as we are able to tell. The Ostrogoth rule during the first half of the 6th century did not significantly improve the conditions, although we may presume that the Ostrogoth rulers contributed to a certain revival of Cibalae area. It may have been the basis for the observed growth of the former city under the Gepid rule, which had grown to the position of the second largest settlement of the South Pannonian region of the Gepid kingdom in the middle of the 6th century. While colonising Cibalae, the Gepids undoubtedly gave priority to their own military, strategic and other considerations. It would not be justified to ascribe the fall of Cibalae and other South Pannonian cities exclusively to their military and strategic function, although it did play an important role in turning the important cities to targets of attacks. On the other hand, strategically convenient position could have had a favourable impact on the readiness of government to maintain the urban structure of the city in spite of the difficulties, as seen from the examples of Siscia and Sirmium in the 6th century. Neither Ostrogoth-Byzantine war nor Gepid-Lombard wars could cause the destruction of South Pannonian settlements, as well as intensify further degradation of the remnants of urban structures including Cibalae, since the deurbanisation process had already been completed with the exception of Siscia and Sirmium. After all, the fi ghts between Ostrogoths and Eastern Romans had not been fought in the area of the Sava-Drava-Danube confluence. Finally, by the last quarter of the 6th century, the urban structure of Cibalae had perished long ago and the rural settlement that followed was reduced to a very rudimentary form. Present insights allow us to conclude that a following, shy expansion into the area occurred only during the 7th century. But the settlers of that period, having no relation to Roman traditions whatsoever, shun from the inner urban area of former Cibalae, a dead city.
Cibalae; urban degradation; settlement shift; Late Antiquity; Early Middle Ages
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