City, country and crisis in the Ager Crustuminus. Confronting legacy data with resurvey results in the territory of ancient Crustumerium


  • J.F. Seubers
  • G.W. Tol


This article discusses the results of systematic field surveys in the territory of ancient Crustumerium performed by the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA) between 2011 and 2013. These surveys aimed at evaluating the status of the surface record in relation to previous work in the area in the 1970s and 1990s, and at strengthening our knowledge about the ruralisation of Crustumerium before its conquest by Rome (around 500 BC). However, as soon became clear, the current surface record provided only meagre evidence for the period of focus. Instead, it is dominated by the presence of ‘Roman’ pottery, belonging to farm sites that often were founded in the Mid-Republican period (4th-3rd c. BC) and in many cases continued to be frequented into Late Roman times. This observation is contrary to the idea that an explosive rural infill of the countryside in the 6th century BC was followed by a rural crisis in Republican times, as has been the prevailing argument on the basis of legacy data. Furthermore, our own data led us to reconsider the supposed causal relationship between the urbanisation and ruralisation of the ancient Latin city-states. In this light the present paper, accompanied by detailed site and ceramic data, makes a case for the value of reflexivity in archaeology and shows how selective replication studies can elicit alternatives for well-established historical and archaeological narratives.