Call for papers
Gesoriacum/Bononia: between land and sea
Economic, political and military roles
of the ancient port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Morinie
Conference of the collective research project
'Topographic Atlas of the Roman town of Boulogne'
Boulogne-sur-Mer, 24th and 25th of September 2015,
The ancient town of Boulogne was a vital link in the relations between Britain and the continent, at the crossroads of the land and sea routes linking these territories. From this perspective, this town is without doubt an ideal site to understand the major economic flows of the Roman Empire. Despite this, was it a city exclusively turned to the sea, whose development was predicated exclusively by its harbour, commercial and military functions? What were its initial territorial connections along the Morin coast before it became the administrative centre of the Bononienses from the end of the 3rd century?
The conference 'Gesoriacum/Bononia: between land and sea', organised by the collective research project "Topographic Atlas of the Roman town of Boulogne-sur-Mer", aims to examine the complex relationship between its function as a 'waypoint' and its terrestrial relations with the hinterland. Investigation from this perspective into the economic, political and military roles of the ancient port of Boulogne should allow a more nuanced appreciation of the various functions of the city and their evolution.
The conference will be based around three central themes, detailed below. For each of them, comparative approaches with other harbour towns of Gallia Belgica or Britannia are actively sought.
1. To the gates of Britannia: the commercial and military harbour of Boulogne-sur-Mer and long-distance exchange
Boarding point for people and goods, headquarters of the Portorium and station of the cursus publicus, Boulogne-sur-Mer was also, from the 1st to the 3th century, the headquarters of the Classis Britannica, the Roman military fleet assuring control of the Channel. Even so, sea routes other than that connecting Dover and Boulogne developed in La Manche and the North Sea during this period, notably between the Rhine and the Thames Estuary. In the same way, the role and the importance of the Roman military fleet evolved, and we now question the existence of a permanent squadron beyond the 3th century.
Papers presented at the conference will allow a review of the current situation of recent advances in research relating to these questions: what is the evidence, particularly in terms of artefacts, of these exchanges between Roman Britain and the rest of the Empire, in the light of the recent archaeological excavations? Which are the goods that passed through Boulogne and Dover and which had these two harbour towns as their destination? Where did they come from and where did they go? How was the supply of Boulogne's squadron organised? Did the evolution of the cross-channel commercial routes translate into an evolution of the functions and/or the commercial and military importance of the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer?
2. The political and administrative context of the Morinie and its evolution: two towns for one Civitas
On the political and administrative side, Boulogne, a naval base under the authority of the prefect of the fleet, lived side by side with the city of Thérouanne, the administrative capital of the Morins, between the 1st and 3rd century. How can one articulate the development of these two urban areas, and what were the relations between them until the split of the city in the late third or early fourth century?
The conference will seek to map out the boundaries of this particular territorial organization, particularly from recent Iron Age discoveries on the coastline. It will consider, in the light of the written sources, the origins and incidences of the administrative reform which, shortly after the siege of the city by Constantius Chlorus (293 AD), made the city of Boulogne the administrative centre of the Bononienses, separate from the city of the Morins. Papers on this "Boulogne-Thérouanne" duality during the early medieval period are also expected.
3. The coastline and Western Morinie: Territorial, economic and production networks
In recent years commercial archaeology has increased within the territory of the ancient Morinie. How has this new data changed our vision of the occupation of the territory and relations between the ancient port of Boulogne and its hinterland?
Few works have, at present, focussed on the countryside of the Morinie. The conference will try to put forward an initial assessment of the contribution of commercial archaeology to our knowledge of countryside and economy of the Morin coast. It will also be interested in halieutic production (salt exploitation, fisheries), from the end of the Iron Age to the Middle Ages, as well as craft or extractive industries (stone quarries, ceramic workshops...), addressing in particular aspects of their regional distribution. It will question the "status" of some sites like Étaples or Marquise that can doubtless contribute to a secondary network of towns still difficult to understand.
Proposals for papers (oral presentation of 30 mn) will be studied by the steering committee (see below). They must be submitted before December 31st, 2014 for the attention of Angélique Demon ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>) with a provisional title and an abstract of 200 words maximum
The proceedings of the conference will be published in 2016.
Steering committee : Olivier Blamangin (Inrap) - Angélique Demon (Ville de Boulogne) - Roger Hanoune (Halma-Ipel UMR8164) - Christine Hoët-Van Cauwenberghe (Université de Lille 3) - Jean-Luc Marcy (Centre Départemental d'Archéologie du Pas-de-Calais) - Stéphane Révillion (Drac - Sra) - Laurent Sauvage (Inrap).
PCR « Atlas topographique de la villa antique de Boulogne-sur-Mer »
Centre de recherche Halma-Ipel-UMR 8164 (CNRS, Lille 3, MCC)
Peter Clark BA FSA MIFA FSA Scot
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