Fortification and Landscape Transformation in Late Antique Pessinus


  • William Anderson University of Melbourne



Late Antiquity, fortification, Anatolia, Pessinus, landscapes


Fortified structures were a prominent feature of urban landscapes in late antique Anatolia. They served not only as defensive barriers and oppressive strongholds but also as monuments that delineated residential and inhabited spaces and enclosed zones of administrative and political power. They provided visual and physical focal points that could alter a city’s layout, and were seen and felt daily by city-dwellers. Yet, despite the significance of fortifications to the form of cities and cultural relations within them, scholarship has often isolated such structures from their spatial and social context. There is a tendency to privilege their functional military qualities and to be guided by historical accounts of wars and invasions. Considering the role of fortified buildings in the expression of power and identity has enlivened other fields of archaeology, particularly studies of late medieval castles in northwest Europe, but these perspectives have rarely been applied to the east Mediterranean during Late Antiquity. Using a case study from Pessinus, a Hellenistic-Roman city in westcentral Turkey, I approach fortifications as socially affective loci that are implicated in transformations in the use and meaning of landscapes. Building works sometimes occurred during times of war and could have specific defensive functions; equally, monuments had symbolic meaning as expressions of power and status, and were the subject of conflict and consensus within communities.

Author Biography

  • William Anderson, University of Melbourne
    William Anderson completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2011 that analysed late antique material culture in north central Anatolia. He has worked with archaeological survey and excavation projects in Turkey, Italy, Germany and Australia, and has published research on Roman, Byzantine and western medieval material culture.


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How to Cite

Anderson, W. (2013). Fortification and Landscape Transformation in Late Antique Pessinus. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 26(1), 75-96.