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Institut Français d'Études Anatoliennes Georges Dumézil

[FLEUVES] Rivers as Political and Cultural Frontiers between the Provinces of Roman Asia Minor

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[FLEUVES] Rivers as Political and Cultural Frontiers between the Provinces of Roman Asia Minor

Anatolian Rivers between East and West

Axes and Frontiers
Geographical, economical and cultural aspects of the human-environment interactions between the Hebros and Tigris Rivers in ancient times

The Cultural Aspects of Rivers
28th September-1st October 2017
Istanbul (French Institute of Anatolian Studies)
Enez (Enez Excavations Directorate)

Perceptions and Representations of Western Asiatic Rivers

Benet Salway (University College London,
Rivers as Political and Cultural Frontiers between the Provinces of Roman Asia Minor

We are familiar with major rivers as forming borders at the outer frontiers of Roman domination, from the Rhine in the west to the Euphrates in the east. At the same time, the idea that rivers form corridors of communication and river valleys natural cultural communities is well established. Many city territories, even of those of port cities had a fresh water course running at their heart. Given that Roman provincial organisation, at least in already urbanised areas, such as Asia Minor, was defined by lists of generally pre-existing city territories (the formulae provinciarum), the boundaries of the provinces coincide with those of the boundaries of their constituent civic communities. Moreover, as Ronald Syme observed, the Roman roads,
which tended to run along the river valleys, formed the spine of provincial organisation.
Typically, therefore, provincial boundaries in Asia Minor are found running predominantly along the watersheds of mountain ranges separating river valleys, as, for example, the ranges describing the Pisidian extension of the province of Galatia (around the colonies of Apollonia and Antioch). In late antiquity, however, the Syndecdemos of Hierocles, allows us to perceive the use of the Maeander River as the frontier between the province of Caria to its south, and the rump of the province of Asia to the north, out of which it had been carved.
Recent epigraphical finds have shone new light on the determination of some Roman provincial boundaries in Asia Minor. Field survey undertaken by F. Battistoni, and P. Rothenhöfer (Epigraphica Anatolica, 46 [2013], 101-165 = AE 2013, 1443) in the territories of the modern towns of Orhaneli (Hadrianoi) and of Keles, revealed that the prosopographie and the dating formulae of the dedications at the rural sanctuary at Assartepe, near Baraklı, and that of Tazlaktepe, near Belenören, suggest thsat the region known as the chora of the Dagoutènoi (ἡ Δαγουτηνῶν χώρα : IHadrianoi (IK, 33), 50), occupying a zone in the bend of the Kocaçay (Rhyndacus) on the south-western slopes of Uludağ (Mt Olympus), belonged to the territory of
Prusa ad Olympum (Bursa) in Bithynia rather than to that of Hadrianoi in the province Asia.
Thus, at least in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, the frontier between Asia and Bithynia was not the crest of Mt Olympus but the course of the river Rhyndacus.
Conversely a recently published inscription from Nysa in northern side of the Maeander valley (E. N. Akdoğa-Arca in Vir Doctus Anatolicus [2016], 67) shows the city of Nysa to have erected a statue base to the senator Q. Clodius Fabius Agrippianus Celsinus, praeses of Phrygia-Caria, possibly as the first holder of this post (c. AD 255/260). This suggests that when the province of Phrygia-Caria was first carved out of the great proconsular province of Asia the frontier in this region ran along the watershed between the Maeander and Cayster valleys and was only later moved south to the line of the Maeander river itself, thus returning Nysa to the province of Asia. Here the later decision favours a pragmatic frontier over one that respected
indigenous cultural units, a tendency of Roma provincial organisation that the geographer Strabo had already commented upon in the early first century.



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