Life on the Roman road: communications, trade and identities on Roman roads in Croatia from 1st – 8th CE


Roads in Roman time were the arteries of the Empire itself. They connected provinces and cities, and without them the Romans could not have conquered and held onto the territories they ruled. They were means of moving military officials, civilians and to transport goods. Roman roads gave excellent links for organizing life and establishing various settlements in periods after the collapse of the Empire. Engineering and surveying skills of the Romans provided the basis for many of today's routes. Life on some Roman roads continued after the fall of the Empire and has not stopped until today. The main objective of the project is an interpretation of everyday life on the Roman road, from the beginning of the Roman rule to the period of decline, acculturation and integration of new identities. This project offers a chance for a new perspective: how does the life develop around Roman roads and a path during the main usage of the roads and after it’s over?

Life continues even after the classical period of Roman life is over and former Roman provinces are interspersed with peoples of different background and origin. The spirit of Roman way of life, as we are well aware, stays strong for centuries after the decline and fall of Roman state. We can follow that development/process in archaeological material for centuries afterward, and it's duality is astounding: on one hand, Roman culture, in it's changed form-heavily adapted by new historical circumstances and processes, lives on thanks to people and communities which uphold Roman identity as their own; on the other hand, direct successor of Roman, Mediterranean/Byzantine culture and identity heavily influence (directly and indirectly) and define early medieval material culture, created by outsider populations with completely different identities, but situated in former Roman territories/provinces. Both perspectives are focus of the project, from different viewpoints:

  • Life on the Roman roads and paths in Roman times, considering the regional differences (Lika region – Road station Žuta Lokva; Eastern Slavonia – Cibalae – Mursa route)
  • Life of direct successorsand indirect followers (Late Avar population from 3 sites around Cibalae in Eastern Slavonia, former Roman province Panonnia Sirmiensis) of Roman culture in post-Roman world.

With interdisciplinary approach to archaeological research, analysis of small archaeological materials the project will try to present how the life on the Roman road was organized. Activities on the project will utilize landscape survey and analyses of material assemblages to track the development and decline of Roman way of life. The broad perspective of the project will, by the end of research, offer a starting point/foundation for a great number of future comparisons, research and projects which will enable the research group to become active participants in current topics, discussions and research in European archaeology. In LRR project Roman roads will be studied as basic artery of Roman world but also a as a metaphors of introducing, accepting and living the Roman way of life. After the decline of Roman world Roman roads represent the metaphors of heritage and tradition of what was once a huge Empire.

Project’s web-site:

Ivana Ožanić Roguljić, Pia Šmalcelj Novaković, Valentina Mantovani,

Anita Rapan Papeša, Angelina Raičković Savić

Duration: 01.01.2018. - 31.12.2022

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