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Architecture of Roman Asia Minor

Cremna in Pisidia (Photo: A. Leung)

The project funded by the Austrian Research Fund FWF (Project no. P27921) aims to provide the first monograph devoted exclusively to the architecture of Roman Asia Minor from the 1st century BCE to the 4th century CE. To a great extent, Roman architecture is considered an empire-wide phenomenon and almost always viewed from the perspective of the city of Rome. Even meticulous studies rarely address local characteristics but consider them merely as incidental peculiarities. Contrary to this overall impression, the Roman architecture of Asia Minor is shaped by local characteristics and a regional identity that makes it unique within the building activity of the Roman Empire. Because no study can be expected to provide a thorough analysis of the vast number of buildings in Asia Minor from this period, this study takes a thematic approach.

The subject will be explored along five main themes:

1) Natural resources and their effect on building technique

2) the political and cultural situation in the poleis of Asia Minor and how each encourages specific building types

3) the formation of specific architectural types emerging from local tradition and Roman influence

4) formal aspects of architectural decoration and how it compares to other monuments in the Roman Empire

5) the chronological development of the monuments within the corpus of Asia Minor architecture of the Roman period.

It is the unique qualities of the architecture of Roman Asia Minor that this study proposes to analyze.

The planned study will provide a new basis for our understanding of the rich corpus of monuments from Roman Asia Minor. Simultaneously, it will allow us to expand the focus of our understanding from the urban center of Rome to another major region and serve as a case study for regional identity and local characteristics of architecture within an empire-wide building culture.

The international conference "Continuity and Change – Architecture in Asia Minor during the Transitional Period from Hellenism to the Roman Empire" took place in the Meerscheinschlössl, University of Graz, from April 26 to 29, 2017. A short summary by Ute Lohner-Urban and Ursula Quatember can be found in the online journal Forum Archaeologiae.

Lectures (selection):

  • Ursula Quatember, "Natural Resources and the Formation of a Regional Architectural Identity in Roman Asia Minor”, Internationale Konferenz “Cave e cantieri antichi d’Asia Minore", organized by the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Rome (Italy), December 2–4, 2015
  • Ursula Quatember, "Entstehung und Entwicklung der kleinasiatischen Thermen-Gymnasien", 16. Österreichischer Archäologentag in Vienna (Austria) , February 26, 2016
  • Ursula Quatember, "Griechen - Römer - Mitbürger. Auftraggeber und Bauprojekte im Kleinasien der römischen Kaiserzeit", International Conference "Migration und Baukultur von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart" organized by the Research Training Group (RTG) 1913 "Kulturelle und technische Werte historischer Bauten", funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), Berlin/Erkner (Germany), November 25–26, 2016
  • „Die Architektur des römischen Kleinasien", BTU Cottbus – Senftenberg, DFG Research Training Group 1913 "Cultural and Technological Significance of Historic Buildings", December 19, 2017


  • Entstehung und Entwicklung der kleinasiatischen Thermen-Gymnasien, in: G. Schörner – K. Meinecke (eds.), Akten des 16. Österreichischen Archäologentages am Institut für Klassische Archäologie der Universität Wien vom 25. bis 27. Februar 2016 (Vienna 2018) 383–394
  • Natural Resources and the Formation of a Regional Architectural Identity in Roman Asia, in: T. Ismaelli – G. Cardozzi (eds.), Ancient Quarries and Building Sites in Asia Minor. Research on Hierapolis in Phyrgia and Other Cities in Sout-Western Anatolia: Archaeology, Archaeometry, Conservation (Bari 2016) 725–732