Research Hub: Debating Early Rome

M. Helm & H. Beck

The Early Roman Republic has experienced a flurry of activity and lively debates in the last decade. Organized by Hans Beck and Marian Helm in collaboration with Jeremy Armstrong (University of Auckland) and Simon Lentzsch (Université de Fribourg), “Debating Early Rome” engages in these debates and aims to bring together different perspectives, approaches, and academic cultures in a joint group to broaden the discussion and mutual exchange on this fascinating period.

  • Project description: Debating Early Rome

    Research on early Rome has seen a flurry of activity and new debates emerge in the last decade. Much of this movement has been propelled by impressive advances and new finds in the field of archaeology. This material has not only enriched our knowledge and understanding of early Rome and its wider Central Italian and Mediterranean context but has also fuelled further discussions on the political and social nature of Roman society. In contrast to the earlier emphasis on the city-state model, recent research has instead stressed the high mobility and influence of powerful elites.

    The modern discussion around early Rome is inexorably intertwined with methodological questions, and particularly how to marry together the ever-increasing archaeological evidence with the problematic literary sources. Interestingly, the different positions on this matter frequently follow faultlines of language and academic cultures, with some favouring a ‘literature-first’ approach and others defaulting to archaeology, thus hampering attempts at engaging in a joint discussion. Increasingly, although part of the same international discipline, we seem to be speaking different languages – both figuratively and literally.

    The recent (pandemic-driven) increase in the number and acceptance of online events provides an opportunity to address this issue. Based on a fruitful international collaborations between universities in Switzerland, New Zealand, and Germany, the talk series “Debating Early Rome” will discuss central issues and recent trends of the early Roman Republic. It will also include methodological debates regarding the available body of evidence in order to explore how the material and philological evidence can be understood as two very different sets of data with their own respective strengths and weaknesses as suggested by Attema. Starting in the summer semester 2021 the series will host five sessions featuring position papers, presentations and ample room for discussion. The first three meetings will focus on the nature of the early Roman state, elites and early Roman citizenship. Each of these sessions will consist of three 10-minute position papers outlining different aspects and approaches which will form the basis for the general discussion. The fourth session will feature a report on the recent excavations on the Capitoline Hill by the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in Rom followed by a final panel discussion.

    A central objective of this project is to bring together different perspectives, approaches and academic cultures on early Rome in a joint group to broaden the discussion and mutual exchange on this fascinating period.

  • Reconsidering Early Rome – Concepts and Contexts

    © SAG
  • Cohabitation, Cooperation, and Conquest in Archaic and Early Roman Italy

    A Debating Early Rome event, in conjunction with the Annual Conference of the Classical Association of South Africa

    23. November 2023, Cape Town

    11:00 –12:30 Polities and Politics
    Nicola Terrenato (University of Michigan): The 6th and early 5th Century as a Watershed Moment in the Urban History of Central Italy

    Simon Lentzsch (University of Trier, via Zoom): The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship? – Rome, Massalia and the Western Mediterranean in the 5th and 4th Centuries BCE

    Marian Helm (University of Münster): The Ties that Bind. Rome and the Latin Leagues

    14:30 –16:00 Religious Connectivities
    Roman Roth (University of Cape Town): The Case of Etruria

    Parrish Wright (University of South Carolina): Indigenous and Greek Interactions in Southern Italy

    Marion Bolder-Boos (Technische Universität Darmstadt, via Zoom): Sanctuaries in the Early Colonies in Latium and Neighbouring Regions

    16:00 –16:30 Responses
    Jeremy Armstrong and Sheira Cohen (via Zoom)

    Chaired by Hans Beck

  • Rethinking Early Rome: 1st conference of the DER Research Hub

    28th – 29th October 2022

    The early Roman Republic has experienced a flurry of scholarly activity and has been the center of several lively debates in the last decade. This activity inspired the founding of the research hub “Debating Early Rome” in 2021, which features a biannual series of online exchanges that explore crucial topics and controversies regarding the history of Early Rome and Italy. Organized by Jeremy Armstrong (University of Auckland), Sheira Cohen (University of Michigan), Marian Helm (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster), and Simon Lentzsch (Université de Fribourg), DER engages in these debates and aims to bring together different perspectives, approaches, and academic cultures in a joint group to broaden the discussion and mutual exchange on this fascinating period.

    The online seminar series has facilitated the creation of a dedicated group of international scholars whose presentations and contributions to the conversation have allowed us to investigate and interrogate central developments, controversial issues, and also different methodological positions in regard to Early Rome. The upcoming conference “Rethinking Early Rome” will provide the chance to cement our online achievements to date in person and carve out the common ground on how to evaluate and employ the textual and material evidence, as a necessary first step to a new interpretation of the early Roman Republic.

    The conference consists of five panels, bringing together a core group of the online participants from across a range of academic levels and cultures. The first day starts off with a general introduction of the research program followed by the first panel on key methodological challenges and an evening keynote by Prof. Dr. Ortwin Dally. The second day features four panels of three 20-minute presentations to be followed by combined discussions for each panel. The day’s debates will be concluded by a joint response by Prof. Dr. Tim Cornell and Prof. Dr Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp.

    DAY 1 – Friday, 28th October

    (KTh I, Johannisstr. 8-10)

    15:00– 15:15  Opening/Welcome
    Hans Beck, Director Classical Studies WWU Münster

    15:15 – 15:45 Organization and state of the project
    Jeremy Armstrong, Sheira Cohen, Marian Helm, Simon Lentzsch

    15:45 – 19:00 Session 1: Methodology & interdisciplinary approaches (Achim Lichtenberger)
    Andrea Brock (St Andrews): The changing environment of the Tiber Valley
    Roman Roth (Cape Town): Burial and Society: Etruria, Samnium and Rome, c. 450 – 250 BC

    16:45 – 17:00 Coffee Break

    Marian Helm (Münster): Structural Facts 2.0 – Correlating Archeological Evidence and Literary Sources
    Christoph Lundgreen (Dresden): Debating Roman “Staatlichkeit”

    18:30 – 18:45 Discussion of Session 1

    19:00 – 19:30 Keynote
    Ortwin Dally (DAI Rome)

    19:30 Reception in the Archaeological Museum of the WWU

    DAY 2 – Saturday, 29th October

    (JO 101, Johannisstraße 4)

    9:00 – 10:45   Session 2: The economy of Early Rome and Italy (Simon Lentzsch)
    Dominik Maschek (Trier): The economy of city-building
    Sheira Cohen (Michigan): Mapping Exchange Networks in Central Italy: Economies on the Move
    Peter Attema (Groningen): Settlement excavations at Satricum and Crustumerium, new evidence of the earliest phases (9th to 7th c. BC)

    10:30 – 10:45 Discussion of Session 2

    10:45 – 11:00 Coffee Break

    11:00 – 12:45 Session 3: Sanctuaries and community (Sheira Cohen)
    Guy Bradley (Cardiff): The ludi Romani and the emergence of a Roman identity
    Marion Bolder-Boos (Mainz): Cults and the Colonies: Diversity and Conformity in the Sanctuaries of Republican Italy
    John Hopkins (New York): The Religious Landscape of the urbs

    12:30 – 12:45 Discussion of Session 3

    12:45 – 14:30 Lunch Break

    14:30 – 16:15 Session 4: The institutions of the early Roman community (Marian Helm)
    Kimberley Webb (Oxford): Collegiality: the auspices and magistrates in early Rome
    Christopher Degelmann (Berlin): Rituals of integration: the transvectio equitum
    Marie Föllen (Bochum): The Senate and Roman Expansion (3rd to 2nd century BCE)

    16:00 – 16:15 Discussion of Session 4

    16:15 – 16:30 Coffee Break

    16:30 – 18:45 Session 5: International Relations in Italy (Jeremy Armstrong)
    Elena Isayev (Exeter): Mobility beyond Migration
    Lisa Götz (Augsburg): Layers of Roman colonial and Auruncan interaction – changing perspectives on the microregion of the Garigliano estuary
    Stéphane Bourdin (Lyon): The peoples of central Italy
    Marleen Termeer (Nijmegen): Roman and Italian coinage

    18:30 – 18:45 Discussion of Session 5

    18:45 – 19:00 Coffee Break

    19:30 – 20:15 Response
    Tim Cornell & Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp

    20:30 Conference Dinner

  • Program: Summer Semester 2022

    Session 1:

    “Urbanism in Context”, Wednesday 16 March, 8pm CET
    Manuel Fernández-Götz (University of Edinburgh): “Not built in one way: Alternative views on early urbanism in Italy and beyond“Respondents:
    Sheira Cohen (University of Michigan) & Dominik Maschek (University of Oxford)

    Session 2:

    “Religion as a Structuring Principle”, Wednesday 13 April, 8pm CET
    Charlotte Potts (University of Oxford)
    Maik Patzelt (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)

    Session 3:

    “Earlier scholarship and new challenges I”, Wednesday 11 May, 8pm CET
    Nicola Terrenato (University of Michigan)
    Sylvie Pittia (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

    Session 4:

    “Earlier Scholarship and new challenges II”, Wednesday 8 June, 8pm CET
    Tim Cornell (University of Manchester)
    Dan-El Padilla-Peralta (Princeton University)
    Hans Beck (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)

  • Program: Winter Semester 2021/22

    We are delighted to announce the second round of the "Debating Early Rome" online discussion sessions.

    Following on from the previous series’ vibrant exchange, we are looking to delve into a bit more depth on four key topics/themes. These include the development of the city of Rome, whose infrastructure and central places were identified as being of the utmost importance when dealing with the question of the cohesion and institutional depth of the Roman community. Additionally, we will look to discuss how Romans moved, behaved, and engaged within a wider context, with discussions on Rome in her Central Italian context, ‘international’ relations, and finally Roman economies – hopefully building upon, and expanding, many aspects of the conversation which emerged in the first set of discussions.

    As with the first series, these sessions will consist of three 10-minute ‘position papers’ on the different topics, which will form the basis for the general discussion. Sessions will be kept to a maximum of 75min in total. The last session, on 15 December, will feature a general discussion of the various points raised during the series.

    20 October 8pm CET “Monumental and Religious Landscape of the City of Rome”. Chair: Sheira Cohen (University of Michigan)

    • John Hopkins (New York University)
    • Dominik Maschek (University of Oxford)
    • Andrea Brock (University of St Andrews)

    3 November 8pm CET “Rome and Central Italy”. Chair: Roman Roth (University of Cape Town)

    • Lisa Goetz (Universität Augsburg)
    • Stéphane Bourdin (Université Lumière Lyon 2)
    • Marion Bolder-Boos (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)

    17 November 8pm CET “International Relations”. Chair: Guy Bradley (Cardiff University)

    • Marie Foellen (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)
    • Marian Helm (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)
    • Parrish Wright (University of South Carolina)

    1 December 8pm CET “Roman Economies”. Chair: Marleen Termeer (Radboud Universiteit)

    • Michael Taylor (SUNY: University at Albany)
    • Saskia Roselaar (independent)
    • Sheira Cohen (University of Michigan)

    15 December 8pm CET, Final Discussion.

  • Program: Summer Semester 2021

    The first three meetings will focus on the nature of the early Roman state, elites and early Roman citizenship. These sessions will consist of 10-minute position papers outlining different aspects and approaches which will form the basis for the general discussion. The fourth session will feature a report on the recent excavations on the Capitoline Hill. A panel discussion will conclude the first semester of the series.

    Session 1:

    “The nature of the early Roman state”, Wednesday 28 April, 8pm CET
    Jeremy Armstrong (University of Auckland)
    Marian Helm (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)

    Session 2:

    “The nature of early Roman elites”, Wednesday 12 May, 8pm CET
    Guy Bradley (University of Cardiff)
    Troy Samuels (Phillips Exeter Academy)
    Simon Lentzsch (Université de Fribourg)

    Session 3:

    “The nature of early Roman citizenship”, Wednesday 2 June, 8pm CET
    Roman Roth (University of Cape Town)
    Elena Isayev (University of Exeter)
    Francisco Pina Polo (Universidad de Zaragoza)

    Session 4:

    Keynote, Thursday 24 June, 8pm CET
    Ortwin Dally (Leitender Direktor der Abteilung Rom, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut):
    “From the Regal Period to the Late Republic. New excavations on the Capitoline Hill in Rome and the problem of the topography of the sanctuary between the 6th and 1st centuries BC”

    Session 5:

    Panel Discussion “The Rise of Rome”, Wednesday 30 June, 8pm CET
    Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp (Universität zu Köln)
    Nicola Terrenato (University of Michigan)