Universität Hamburg (Germany)

How the Roman Empire Failed. The Connecting Power of Traditional City Culture

Sabine Panzram is a Professor of Ancient History at Hamburg University. She obtained her PhD at Münster University after completing her studies in Freiburg and Barcelona. She has been a Research Fellow of the German Research Foundation at the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin, and now holds an EURIAS / Marie Curie Senior Fellowship at the MIAS – Madrid Institute for Advanced Study.

Possessing a distinguished track record of research in a range of areas, she focuses in particular on urban history on the Iberian Peninsula. She is currently preparing a study on ‘Christendom without Church. The genesis of an institution in the dioecesis Hispaniarum (4th to 7th centuries)’. She is the coordinator of Toletum, an interdisciplinary network for young researchers studying the Iberian Peninsula in Antiquity (www.toletum-network. com). The German Archaeological Institute counts her among its corresponding members.

This project sets out to describe and analyse the collapse of the Roman Empire — an Empire that, at the peak of its power in AD 117, stretched from the Scottish Highlands to the Sahara, and from the Atlantic to the Hindu Kush. Rome’s power rested upon cities that were independent, autonomous and hierarchical in their structure.

It is commonly understood that external factors such as military threats lay at the heart of the fall of the Roman Empire. The project highlights, for the first time, that in the long term the fall of the Roman Empire was attributable to its organisational structure: alongside towns and cities that had an important legal status were others just as significant due to their traditional relevance as trading outposts or religious centres, at both regional and supraregional levels. Rivalries and violent conflicts were, as a result, almost inevitable. CPCity focuses its attention on southern Spain and northern Africa.


- Panzram S. (ed.), Oppidum – civitas – urbs. Städteforschung auf der Iberischen Halbinsel zwischen Rom und al-Andalus, Berlin, 2017.

- Panzram S., “Augusto y la geometría. Sobre las bases geográficas de la dominación romana”, Gerión, 35, 2017, pp. 267-296.

- Panzram S., “„Hilferufe“ aus Hispaniens Städten – Zur Ausbildung einer Metropolitanordnung auf der Iberischen Halbinsel (4.-6. Jahrhundert)”, Historische Zeitschrift, 301, 2015, pp. 626-661.