Migration and the City of Rome in Late Antiquity
In contrast to earlier research, recent scholarship acknowledges the significance of migration and mobility and describes the ancient world as highly mobile. In the past two decades, a ‘tsunami’ of scholarly literature relating to migration in Antiquity in general and migration to Rome in particular has been produced. The role of religion, religious identities and particularly that of Christianity remained largely uncharted territory, alike the systematic study of movements to the city in the post-Constantinian era.
This general ‘ignorance’ is surprising. Firstly, because migration and the presence of Christians in the urbs are inseparable. Migrants imported Christianity to Rome and migration shaped Roman Christianity from its first detectable presence in the city during the first century AD. And secondly, because there is no other known religious group in the Roman Empire, which considers movement as a core identity marker. In the ‘Great Commission’ (Mt 28,16-20, par.) the resurrected Christ instructed his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations”. Also Luke, the author of the Acts of Apostles made great efforts to illustrate the spread of the early Jesus movement across the Mediterranean and presented their main representatives as highly mobile yet deeply embedded within the structures of the Roman world.
My aim is to chart Christian migration flows to the city of Rome for the pre-Constantinian period and to analyse the shifts and the role of church and ecclesial structures for migration to the city in Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages. During my visiting fellowship at the Department for Medieval Studies of the Central European University, I am working on a methodological framework for this study.