Hard Times? Philippopolis in the Fourth Century

  • Stephen Mitchell Rudolf-Reusch-Str. 23D D-10367 Berlin
Keywords: Thrace in the fourth century, Goths, Ammianus Marcellinus, church building, Constantine and Licinius, Theodosius I


This paper offers an overview of the historical evidence for Roman Philippopolis and a study of the literary and archaeological evidence for the city in the fourth century AD. The city fortifications were critically important during this period as they protected Philippopolis against Gothic raids and the predatory incursions of Roman armies engaged in civil wars. Although Philippopolis is not explicitly mentioned in Ammianus Marcellinus’ detailed account of the Gothic wars of AD 376 to 378, it was clearly affected by these circumstances, and the possibilities of urban development were limited, at least until the Gothic-Roman foedus of AD 382. New building of churches and private housing is attested in the later fourth and early fifth century. The city recovered from hard times in the fourth century, but comparisons with other cities of the Roman East, in particular Galatian Ancyra, show that it was unable to achieve the status of a major urban centre of Late Antiquity.