Late Antique Corycus: ‘growth’ or ‘stagnation’? Limitations and potentialities of a case study
Tackling the theme of the Roman-Imperial and Late Antique city on the one hand means dealing with highly authoritative but often divergent theories, and on the other involves the methodological need to avoid certain extremist and/or generic interpretations. The present essay focuses specific attention on the possibilities (or not) of expansion and growth of urban production between the 4th and 6th centuries a.d. in Asia Minor. In this regard, É. Patlagean (1977), on the basis of statistical calculations detectable thanks to the well-known funerary epigraphic dossier of Corycus (concerning just over 400 indications of trades and professions), had concluded that the wide availability of unskilled labor would have envisaged – in the case of Corycus as in that of any other city in the Proto-Byzantine East, according to the scholar – an urban economy characterized by scarce expansion possibilities, rudimentary and discontinuous market mechanisms, intermittent exchanges on the city market. On the other hand, however, the different interpretation of the same dossier by other scholars confirms the need for an analysis of individual regional contexts, decisively more promising, to verify the validity and applicability of general, generic and, too often, dangerously dogmatic theoretical frameworks.
Keywords: City, Country, Late Antiquity, Asia Minor, Professions, Trades.
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