Had the conquest been very violent, as it is generally accepted, [University of Michigan archeologist Nicola] Terrenato argues one would expect to find evidence of disruption and radical shifts in leadership. Instead, there is strong evidence that the social and economic structures within these settlements remained the same, and the same families who were in power before the Roman expansion appeared to maintain their dominant positions. For instance, says Terrenato, family tombs of the local nobility continue long after this supposedly catastrophic event.

"Archaeological evidence allows you to see the material truth. You may have ancient historians saying that a city was sacked and destroyed, but when we excavate it, we see little destruction," Terrenato said. "There must have been some process of negotiation by which Romans and non-Roman elites agreed on a grand bargain to rule the empire together."

The Early Roman Expansion into Italy: Elite Negotiation and Family Agendas

URL: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/early-roman-expansion-into-italy/

This book presents a radical new interpretation of Roman expansion in Italy during the fourth and third centuries BCE. Nicola Terrenato argues that the process was accomplished by means of a grand bargain that was negotiated between the landed elites of central and southern Italy, while military conquest played a much smaller role than is usually envisaged. Deploying archaeological, epigraphic, and historical evidence, he paints a picture of the family interactions that tied together both Roman and non-Roman aristocrats and that resulted in their pooling power and resources for the creation of a new political entity. The book is written in accessible language, without technical terms or quotations in Latin, and is heavily illustrated.