No image

Hadrian as Builder and Benefactor in the Western Provinces

Trudie E. Fraser


This investigation is concerned with the accuracy of Hadrian’s reputation as a prolific builder in the western provincial cities. The pursuit of this not only reveals more of Hadrian’s personal building, but also that all construction work during this period is shown to have contributed to a general perception of intense and continuous building during Hadrian’s reign. The study takes in all the available Hadrianic evidence for the western provinces, not only of civic building, but also of road building and military building. In addition this study offers a comparison between building during the reigns of Hadrian, Trajan and Antoninus Pius allowing a clearer perspective of Hadrianic building. All the available epigraphic, archaeological and numismatic evidence has been sought, especially of building initiated by provincial and local administrative officials, in an endeavour to understand the effect of the implementation of Hadrian’s military and urbanisation policies. As urbanisation was in its infancy inmany of these western provinces, an examination was conducted of the availability of building supplies and its ability to support civic building programmes. Hadrian’s personal contribution in this regard has been a major consideration and all building, including road building, generated by imperial military policy has been detailed. Since a satisfactory conclusion of Hadrianic building could not be reached in isolation, a comparison was made of similar building and public works during the reigns of Hadrian’s predecessor and successor, Trajan and Antoninus Pius. In the final analysis, even though the type and extent of building varied considerably between the various provinces, it is clear that the volume of civic Hadrianic building works exceeded Trajanic by more than thirty percent and Antonine building by fifty percent. The author concludes that Hadrian fully deserved his reputation as a builder and benefactor given by the ancient sources, if not of every city, certainly of many cities in the western provinces.