This page is part of the project LABedia: Еncyclopedia of Late Antique Balkans, 4th-5th c.,
financed by the National Science Fund, contract КП-06-Н30/6, 13.12.2018
Institute of Archaeology Iasi, Romania
The Town of (L)Ibida / Slava Rusă (Scythia Minor) in the context of a new Defence Strategy of the Empire in Late Antiquity.
The largest fortified town in Scythia Minor, (L)Ibida, today Slava Rusă in Tulcea County (RO), had been a mystery since its discovery and description in the later 19th century. Evidently an important city during Late Antiquity, it was difficult to establish, why this place prospered between the 4th and the 6th century and received also major attention during the reign of Justinian, given the fact that this fortified city is placed considerably behind the limes, at the crossroads of an important road connecting Aegyssus and Noviodunum with Marcianopolis. Recent excavations offer new insights into the chronology and international research, which has recently focussed on the fortified cities in the hinterland of the middle and lower Danube, suggests that (L)Ibida had been an essential part of a new defence line, known as a system of “Inner Fortifications”, established mainly in early and mid 4th century. This new defence line includes also the Romanian sites Tropaeum Traiani and Ulmetum, which are rarely mentioned in scholarship in this context. This gives rise to the question, if the new evidence from recent research should not lead to a reconsideration of the ideas of Edward Luttwak, whose arguments concerning imperial defence strategy have been fiercely rejected by archaeologists and historians. This paper argues for a re-evaluation not only of the core arguments of Luttwak – who, working in the 1970s, was not privy to the archaeological evidence now available – but also for a reconsideration of the still-functional imperial power of late antique Rome. The Roman Empire did not react helplessly and without strategy to new threats, but rather reacted strategically and flexibly to these challenges.