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Romanization of urban spaces in Ephesus

Topal, Hidayet Volkan
Expansion of the Roman sphere of influence over various societies and heterogeneous cultures prompted a unique acculturation in the provinces that is referred to as Romanization. The imperial cult, in general, is considered to be both an indicator of this cultural change and an agent that took an effective role in the process of acculturation. The imperial cult in the provincial context of Asia provides a remarkable case to grasp the acculturation under Roman rule, as a catalyst of defining individuals’ and communities’ identity, creation of collective memory, and an effective way for the locals to make sense of the intrusion of a foreign authority into their world. Eventually, this cultural change resulted in the metamorphosis of the urban spaces that especially manifested in the creation of convenient places for the accommodation of the imperial cult. In this thesis, the analysis of the imperial settings in which the architectural forms of the imperial cult were generated is treated as a convincing resource to grasp the process of Romanization and the various reactions of the local population to a new context. With a focus on the Augustan administrative-cult center, the project analyzes the role of the architectural language of the imperial cult in the metamorphosis of urban spaces in Roman Ephesus. In doing so, an experiential analysis of the urban spaces is provided to have a thorough understanding of the Augustan cult center within its larger urban context as a smaller component of a grander scheme.