Italy in the 5th Century

Conference, Science, Roma

Entrance: Via Liguria 20



Conference, Science

Entrance: Via Liguria 20

Social, Political and Economic Transformations in a Society under Stress, 395-493 CE

The goal of this conference is to better understand a crucial moment in the history of Italy: In the fifth century CE, having gone through decades of civil war and being exposed to external threats, the Western Roman Empire disintegrated into a group of successor states ‚Äď a political rupture which had profound social, economic and cultural effects. Italy, which for centuries had been the seat and ideological heart of the Roman Empire, was deeply affected by these events and offers a paradigmatic example for the ensuing transformations. Pre-existing social relations dissolved or were transformed, property was re-distributed, and the economy was re-organized. Most prominently, after decades of political and military turmoil, Italy ceased to be ruled by an emperor: In 476, Odoacer, a senior officer of the imperial army, removed Romulus, the last Roman emperor proclaimed in the West, from office. Henceforth, Italy was governed by kings and a military √©lite whose members claimed to belong to an ethnicity that was distinct from their civilian subjects.

The purpose of the conference is to develop a new synthetic perspective on this period of swift social change in Italy. Our aim is to explore the ways in which different social groups responded to the diverse threats to the old social order and how they adapted to new conditions. Social and economic transformations will play an important role in our discussions. So will the rise of religious institutions, developments in religious practices and attitudes (asceticism, liturgy, charity), changing self-images and strategies of self-fashioning among the elites as well as other cultural developments. In addition to these systematic perspectives, the conference will also adopt a regional approach that analyses demographic and economic developments as well as changes in settlement patterns from one region to another. By exploring how groups in different regions of Italy coped differently with the challenges they faced from the social and political ruptures, we aim to produce a comprehensive and nuanced picture of Italian society, politics and culture in the fifth century.

The conference is organised in collaboration with the University of Bern, the University T√ľbingen, and the German Archaeological Institute in Rome.


Friday, 22nd March
Venue: Istituto Svizzero
Chair: Marco Maiuro (Rome, La Sapienza)

Welcome: Adrian Brändli, Istituto Svizzero, Rome

H09:15 Aemilia (Claudio Negrelli, Venezia)
H10:00 Tuscia Annonaria and Suburbicaria (Federico Cantini, Pisa)
H10:45 Break
H11:00  Umbria, Flaminia and Picenum (Fabrizio Oppedisano, Pisa)
H11:45 Latium and the Roman Suburbium (Cristina Murer, Bern)
H12:30 Break

Chair: Arnaldo Marcone (Roma Tre)

H14:15 Campania (Eliodoro Savino, Naples)
H15:00 Lucania and Bruttium (Battista Sangineto, University of Calabria)
H15:45 Break
H16:15 Corsica and Sardegna (Pier Giorgio Spanu, Sassari)
H17:00 Settlement Patterns in the Sicilian Countryside (Angelo Castrorao Barba, CSIC, LAAC/EEA Granada)
H17:45 Apulia and Calabria (Giuliano Volpe/Roberto Goffredo, Foggia)

Saturday, 23rd March
Venue: Istituto Svizzero
Chair: Domenico Vera (Parma)

H09:00 Peasants and Agriculture (Kim Bowes, UPenn)
H09:45 Venetia and Histria (Alexandra Chavarría Arnau, Padova)
H10:30 Break
H10:45 Coin Circulation (Flavia Marani, Pisa)
H11:30 Italy and the East (Umberto Roberto, Rome)
H12:15 Cities (Neil Christie, Leicester)
H13:00 Conclusions (Stefan Rebenich, Bern)

Click here to download the full programme.