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Imperial structures and urban forms: a comparative study of capital cities in the Roman and Han empires

Razeto, A.; (2011) Imperial structures and urban forms: a comparative study of capital cities in the Roman and Han empires. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This study focuses on the imperial capitals of Rome, Chang’an and Luoyang, during a period in which transformations of political institutions, imperial ideologies, and religious beliefs occurred on both sides of Eurasia. In the centuries between 210 BC and AD 220 Rome and China became the world’s largest agrarian states, and their capital cities were shaped for the first time to be symbols of the power of their imperial systems. The physical features of the capitals, more than any other urban centre, became integral components of the ideological, socio-political and cultural dynamics of the two empires, which they reflected through their design and location in the urban landscape. This thesis aims to further the understanding of the relationships between the cultural, political and social institutions and processes existing in the Han and Roman empires, and the physical structures and internal organization of their capital cities. It will apply a contextual, comparative methodology, specifically tailored to its scope and aims to the available historical and archaeological data relating to city planning principles and models, infrastructure, economic, and ritual architecture of the three capitals. The analysis of the material has been undertaken on the different but complementary levels of the specific monuments, the cities as whole units, and the imperial systems in which they were created. This research explores the extent to which the context-specific combination of a series of factors common to both empires, among them symbolism, practicalities, economy, religion and social status, drove the construction and transformation of the selected urban elements. Through a comparative analysis this study not only uncovers similarities and differences in the material structures of Rome, Chang’an and Luoyang, but it also highlights unique aspects of the relationship between imperialism and urban form that could not be detected by investigating each context in isolation.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Imperial structures and urban forms: a comparative study of capital cities in the Roman and Han empires
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology

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