• Alessandro Russo


Imperial domains in Cyrenaica? Some considerations
Acknowledging the existence of imperial domains in Cyrenaica meansfirst of all coming to terms with the lack of historical evidence at ourdisposal and with the fact that our evidence is all dating back to theSeveran period. This has led to the hypothesis that the procurators mentionedin the documents acted as governors, rather than as administratorsof the princeps’ assets. Nevertheless, a survey of the vicissitudesof the land in Cyrenaica, with support from other sources, suggests thebeginning of a process of transformation of the χώρα βασιλική intoager publicus. This process followed the usual methods of land disposal,the entrusting to the publicans of the management of the finances,cadastral revision and revaluation, resulting in the simultaneous presenceof parcels of land with a different legal status. Most probably,part of this land gradually formed the first properties of the princeps,administered by members of the familia Caesaris. At the same time,the increasing interference of the fiscal authority meant that state landmust have been gradually taken away from the Roman populus (andthe incomes from the aerarium) and slowly incorporated into the patrimoniumfisci. It is very likely that a crucial change took place after theJewish Revolt, with the renewed interest of the emperors in this regionfrom Hadrian onwards. The imperial interest reached its climax whenthe Libyan Septimius Severus entrusted his procurators from the equestrianorder with the administrative and financial management of thelands acquired, which he included in the newly established res privata.Documents dating back to Late Antiquity seem to confirm this picture.