Imperial Neighbors: Empires and Land Allotment in the Ancient Mediterranean World


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation is a comparative history of imperial land allotment in the ancient Mediterranean. Living in a profoundly agrarian world, the Athenians, Syracusans, and Romans created imperial territories by allotting confiscated land. Although all three were republics, the groups allotted land to their citizens in remarkably different ways. Drawing on recent trends in political geography and economic theory, and examining literary texts alongside archaeological case studies, this project demonstrates that the Athenians, Syracusans, and Romans used land allotment to model their imperial territories on what they valued in their own republics. As such, land allotment was a means to an end, more self-reflexive than aimed at control. Because land allotment moved people to and from confiscated land, and in and out of each republic, it also reorganized, concentrated, and displaced labor. Therefore, citizenship in each republic became increasingly economic, as the movement of citizens became a question of human capital.