In this book Paul Arthur provides an important new synthesis of the archaeology and history of the Italian city of Naples, from the late Roman to the early Medieval period. Arthur considers the standard criteria for the definition of the Roman and the Medieval 'town' in order to demonstrate how Naples maintained the characteristics of an urban settlement through the so-called Dark Ages, and how this put it in a position to participate in the regeneration of Mediterranean trade at the beginning of the Medieval period. He looks at the evidence for public and private contributions to the changing physical environment of Naples, including the harbour facilities, defences, street plans, public buildings, the water supply, private houses and gardens, and cemeteries. He considers the role of the Christian Church in the ongoing development of the city, looking at the organization and layout of churches, monasteries and convents, and their relationship to earlier pagan buildings. He examines evidence for rural settlement, agricultural activity and urban manufacturing in the low years of the post-Roman period, and Naples' strategic position vis-a-vis important maritime trade routes at the beginning of the Medieval period (and as a major stopover point for pilgrims to and from the holy land). Arthur argues that geographical conditions and traditional links with the Near East guaranteed Naples a crucial level of cultural development through the 2nd half of the 1st millennium AD and facilitated the rise of Naples to the position of a major Mediterranean power, a position that it was to retain up until the unification of Italy.
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