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The City in Roman Palestine$
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Daniel Sperber

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780195098822

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195098822.001.0001

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(p.3) Introduction
The City in Roman Palestine

Daniel Sperber

Oxford University Press

At the end of the introduction to my book Roman Palestine, 200-400, the Land: Crisis and Change in Agrarian Society as Reflected in Rabbinic Sources (1978), I wrote: “Finally, developments in the rural community cannot be divorced from those of the urban community. The two communities are mutually interdependent, their interactions significant for each as for both. This I hope will be shown in a future volume dealing with the conditions of urban life during the same centuries”. Some fifteen years have passed, and I have still not fulfilled that hope. This volume only satisfies my promise of a supplementary volume in a partial manner. Whereas the two former volumes, Roman Palestine, 200-400, Money and Prices (1974; 2nd edition, 1991) and the volume quoted above, presented a socioeconomic historical thesis, the present volume does not. Hence its chronological parameters have been broadened to encompass much of the Tannaitic period, and it covers a period of some three hundred years, from ca. 100 to 400 C.E. Unlike the present-day studies of ancient urban history, it does not deal with a specific city—for example, Tiberias, Sepphoris, Caesarea, or Lod—and is thus unlike the excellent studies of Lee I. Levine on Caesarea, Joshua J. Schwartz on Lod, Stuart S. Miller on Sepphoris, Gustav Hermansen on Ostia, and more recently, Donald W. Engels on Roman Corinth. My book synthesizes what is known of urban life in Talmudic Palestine and hence deals with a theoretical, nonexistent, “synthetic” city.” The reader will readily see that I have been greatly influenced by Jerome Carcopino’s seminal work on everyday life in Roman times, the classic Daily Life in Ancient Rome, which to a great extent set the tone for this genre of writing. However, he was writing about a specific town. In a sense, my narrative is closer in character to A. H. M. Jones’s paradigmatic The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian. I have also been somewhat influenced by W. A. Becker’s Gallus, or Roman Scenes of the Time of Augustus, although from a literary point of view, his work is closer to historical fiction.

Keywords:   Bathhouses, Maps, Markets, Pubs, Streets, Town planning, Villages

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