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Rogier van der Heijden




Curriculum Vitae



Projektbeschreibung: "Constructing the past. Imperial temporality and civic identity in Roman Sardis and Gerasa, 17 – 235 CE"

Already before the arrival of the Roman empire, the eastern Mediterranean had a rich history as part of various previous empires. The histories and memories of these empires were not suddenly forgotten upon the appearance of a new empire. On the contrary, the expression of imperial histories, memories and identities continued to be expressed in rituals, practices, art and architecture. As the Roman empire was ruled through its cities, memory and identity formation was very much – although not exclusively – an urban phenomenon for this period. This study will look at the shaping and manipulation of experiences of imperial order and past empires in the urban environment through modification of the urban layout, architectural changes and, as a result of these, shifting uses and experiences of urban space. Modifications in the urban network and the architectural layout of the city were able to reshape and even manipulate the urban experience, and created not only new and different behaviours and behavioural patterns but also modified the meanings that were given to (different elements of) the urban environment. Examples include the use of distinct building materials, decorations and techniques, or the obstruction of existing buildings by the placement of new buildings.

My research will focus on the negotiation and medialisation of imperial temporalities in the urban environment of the Roman eastern Mediterranean, surveying two case studies, of which Sardis is the first and Gerasa is the second. The dissertation will attempt to contextualise the increase in imperial references and self-identifications in Sardis and Gerasa in the abovementioned period and ask to what extent this influenced the urban experience and altered the memory horizons of their inhabitants. My research will contribute to a detailed historical interpretation of the public sphere, coinage and epigraphy of the two ancient cities.