This paper applies the concepts of gateways and centrality, formerly opposing approaches to spatial planning, by now a powerful merged tool for archaeologists, to understand the dynamics of the evolution of cities and settlements in a long-term perspective. The samples are the two main port cities in South-Eastern Provence (France), Marseille and Arles. By means of several archaeological markers it will be shown how natural landscapes and political control influenced the fate of the economic development of both cities in Greco-Roman times. Therefore, this study focuses on the aspects of trade and administration encompassing the functionality of the ports as trans-shipment centers, the impact of political interference as well as the supply and exchange of long distance and local/regional products. Within this research framework, Marseille emerged as a static gateway for its service area with a distinct perspective on Mediterranean trade. Arles, however, was the main gateway for the whole Rhône corridor in Roman times due to its strategic location in an area characterized by a variety of landscapes and the promotion of politics as a port of the annona
. The data presented here aim to reject the frequently used narrative of an ongoing competition between Arles and Marseille in favor of a more nuanced picture of economic interactions and overlapping trading networks.
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