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date: 15 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The impact of cities in the urbanized landscape of Roman Britain has long been debated. Were towns and colonies catalysts for rural economic growth or merely islands of colonial culture that served as administrative centres for the collection of tax and rent? Considering recent quantitative studies of artefactual and skeletal evidence, this chapter addresses the relationship between town and country through the lenses of consumption and social inequality. The results suggest consistent and pronounced disparities between the communities of major urban centres and the rest of the populace, in terms of access to commodities, market integration, diet, health, and general quality of life. For the first two centuries after the Claudian conquest, Britain’s first major cities stood apart, benefiting from flows of tribute that did not stimulate or depend on a reciprocal flow of goods to the countryside.

Keywords: Urbanism, consumption, inequality, Romanization, Roman Britain, urban hinterlands, economy, diet, material culture, health

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