chapter  5
THE CITY
Pages 34

The historiography of the Roman city in the provinces has tended to be reduced to simple dichotomous arguments over the extent to which native (colonized) populations adopted the imperial culture (Alston 1996), a discussion which draws much of its inspiration from the experience of nineteenth-and early twentieth-century European colonialism. Such debates presuppose that the dynamics of historical development were essentially ethnic. Thorough reassessment of the role of ethnicity in the Ptolemaic period (see pp. 157-9) suggests that although ethnic markers were used, they appear more as indicators of closeness to government than anything we would associate with ethnic identity. It was only with Augustus’ settlement of 30 BC that a rigid and complex caste system was imposed. The Augustan settlement may not have reflected the complexity of late Ptolemaic society but the settlement and the ideology behind that settlement set in motion dramatic changes in the cities of the province.1