Central Places in the Post-Roman Mediterranean:

Regional Models for the Iberian Peninsula


  • Javier Martínez Jiménez Oxford Archaeology CUPARQ
  • Carlos Tejerizo García Universidad del País Vasco C/ Honduras, 16 7ºC, 01012 Vitoria-Gasteiz Araba




central places, territorial administration, urbanism, villages, Visigoth Spain


Most current discussions on Late Antique and early medieval archaeology are focused on issues such as the use of the landscape, the abandonment of towns, and the reorganisation of rural settlements. The common element in all these cases is that the presence of a central place is key to analysing the social, political, and economic interrelations between sites, areas, and territories. Within the academic literature, however, the notion of a ‘central place’ has been determined by the conceptualisation of Roman towns, and this is not necessarily applicable to Late Antique contexts. Discussing this, and taking the Iberian peninsula as a case study, we propose various different archaeological regional trends to define how a central place was configured in the Visigoth period. These regions are the north coast, the north plateau, the Toledo–Reccopolis axis, and the Mediterranean coastline, taking advantage of the most recent archaeological finds. For this, special attention is given to towns (older Roman settlements and new foundations), hill-forts, and other major places that had a primary economic, religious, or administrative role in a given territory. These models, in which various degrees of urbanisation and territorial organisation are noticeable, form the basis for further discussion of Iberian central places in the Late Antique Mediterranean context.

Author Biographies

Javier Martínez Jiménez, Oxford Archaeology CUPARQ

Javier Martínez Jiménez has recently (2013) completed his doctoral thesis at the University of Oxford on the continuity of aqueducts in post-Roman Spain and their impact on urbanism, and he has published various articles on this topic (Martínez 2012; 2015). He has directed the survey and excavation of the aqueduct of Reccopolis (2010–13) and co-directed excavations at the Late Antique site of Casa Herrera, Mérida (2012–13).

Carlos Tejerizo García, Universidad del País Vasco C/ Honduras, 16 7ºC, 01012 Vitoria-Gasteiz Araba

Carlos Tejerizo García is currently finishing his PhD thesis at the University of the Basque Country (campus of Vitoria-Gasteiz) on early medieval rural landscapes in northern Iberia. His main research topics are rural villages, domestic and funerary architecture, and pottery. He is currently directing field survey projects in northwestern Segovia.



How to Cite

Martínez Jiménez, J., & Tejerizo García, C. (2015). Central Places in the Post-Roman Mediterranean:: Regional Models for the Iberian Peninsula. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 28(1), 81–103. https://doi.org/10.1558/jmea.v28i1.27502