On agency and ramparts in the lower danube and Spain

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Having worked mainly on the late Roman and Visigothic walls of the Spanish provinces, I came across the details of Dacian-Moesian frontier defences mostly by chance, through a book by Carl Schuchhardt and his contributions to linear earthworks. I would like to contrast these valla in the specific angle of agency, as the discussions on the Moldovan wall of Athanaric and its chronology are reminiscent of questions posed as well in southwestern imperial contexts. Although no precise equivalences for such extensive, often river-connected ramparts are known in Hispania, I wish to put a few points in perspective and to establish some not strictly archaeological, but rather interpretive correspondences. The purpose is framing a meta-analysis for early Gothic defensive concerns, with a focus on large built structures, from the standpoint of their perceived usefulness, as a trigger for agency. The cultural reality of both territories in contrast is entirely distinct, and may therefore provide an interesting approach for the understanding of investment priorities in the genesis of very early medieval monarchies, and their negotiated implementation through transformed imperial mechanisms. Again, this evolved on radically separate realities. In a Danubian setting, one observes a frontier retraction associated with the political survival of the eastern empire; contrariwise, in Spain, a power substitution succeeded only through permanent negotiation with local and regional authorities. The text below takes this into account, yet looks explicitly at the reactive dimension, which was presumably pre-emptive and symbolic as well, of post-imperial embankments, walls, and other forms of linear defence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-15
Number of pages11
JournalPlural. History. Culture. Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Comparative History
  • Gothic administration
  • Late antiquity
  • Sponsorship
  • Valla

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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