We are pleased to announce that the Call for Papers/Posters for TRAC 2020 is now open. The Call for Papers will close 15th November and the Call for Posters will close 5th January 2020.
The 30th annual TRAC will be held in the ancient City of Split, Croatia, on 16th – 18th April 2020.
Paper Submissions (due 15th November):
Please indicate which theme session you wish to contribute to, or if you are submitting to the general session. Any papers that are not accepted for a themed session will be considered for the general session (organised by the Local Organising Committee). The different theme sessions and organisers are listed below.
Paper submissions for TRAC sessions should include:
- Title of the theme session / general session you are submitting to
- Title of the paper
- Name(s) of the speaker(s)
- Contact email(s)
- An abstract of 200 – 250 words
All submissions should be sent by email ONLY to the TRAC 2020 Split Local Organising Committee at email@example.com and not to individual session organisers so that paper submissions can undergo blind peer review.
The proposals will be sent to the Local Organising Committee and session organisers for review and paper proposers will be informed of the Committee’s decision by mid-December.
Poster Submissions (due 5th January 2020):
We will be accepting both hardcopies and digital posters.
Poster submissions for TRAC sessions should include:
- Title of the poster
- Name(s) of the author(s)
- Contact email(s)
- An abstract of 200 – 250 words
- Preferred format of the poster: 5 minute video presentation / PowerPoint automatized slide show / hardcopy in B1 size (70 x 100 cms)
All submissions should be sent by email to the TRAC 2020 Split Local Organising Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
The proposals will be sent to the Local Organising Committee for review and poster proposers will be informed of the Committee’s decision by 15th January 2020.
TRAC 2020 Sessions:
Carlotta Gardner (British School at Athens – C.email@example.com )
Cross-craft interaction in the Roman World
Cross-craft interaction (CCI) is a theoretical framework which allows archaeologists, historians, and classicists to comprehend the social relationships and identities that are shaped and negotiated through people’s interactions . CCI, first coined by McGovern  and later explored and defined by Brysbaert , provides a platform for the investigation of the interplay of different crafts people and the influence of these interactions, as well as socio-economic factors, on specific aspects of their practice. CCI can contribute to our understanding of technological changes, innovations, and the transfer of technical knowledge. The study of CCI can help to develop our understanding of the organisation of a craft/industry and also about potential dependencies of a craft on others.
Unlike in pre-Roman periods where it can be difficult to identify, in the Roman period there are several strands of evidence that indicate CCI was prolific. Yet, this framework is rarely used to investigate crafts and crafts people in the Roman world. Multi-craft workshops, industrial zoning/clustering, and collegia (craft guilds) provided arenas for these interactions, and the material remains are the key to unlocking the social sphere of craftspeople in the Roman world, as well as other aspects listed above.
This session hopes to explore how the use of CCI, as a framework, can benefit the study of Roman crafts and crafts people, how these interactions can inform us on socio-economic factors, and lastly how it can encourage us, as specialist researchers, to interact and fully investigate the multi-dimensional world of Roman crafts and industry.
-  Brysbaert, A. 2007. “Cross-craft and cross-cultural interactions during the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean Late Bronze Age,” in Antoniadou, S., and Pace, A. (eds) Mediterranean crossroads. Nicosia: Pierides Foundation: 325-359
-  McGovern, P.E. 1989. “Ceramic and craft interaction: a theoretical framework, with prefatory remarks,’ in McGovern, P.E., Notis, M.D., and Kingery, W.D. (eds), Cross-craft and cross-cultural interactions in ceramics. Ceramics and Civilisation 4. Westerville, OH: The American Ceramic Society: 1-11.
Daniel J. Martín-Arroyo Sánchez (University of Barcelona – firstname.lastname@example.org)
María del Mar Castro García (University of Siena – email@example.com)
Lázaro G. Lagóstena Barrios (University of Cádiz – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Víctor Revilla Calvo (University of Barcelona – email@example.com)
Dark Landscapes: Research Strategies in Remote Sensing and Modelling
The Roman sites were closely related to their surrounding areas and resources. The study of the physical structures used for the territorial or urbanistic management and the economic factors that generated the aforementioned interconnections are still a challenge for current research. The resulting issues can be likened to the cases of the dark matter and dark energy in cosmology, as similarly we can barely detect the full evidence and explain the forces beyond the more visible part of the archaeological record. Fortunately, barriers in both spheres of investigation are being removed with the help of new technologies in remote sensing and computational science. We find here a strategical way of better dealing with ‘big/messy data’ from the archaeological record, within the framework of the Complex systems theory. The study of emerging data properties from a holistic approach offers understanding of the archaeological continuum, as proposed by the ‘Empty’ Mediterranean Landscape theoretical perspective.
The goal of this session is to bring together researchers in both non-invasive survey as well as economic modelling, in order to call attention to the complementarity of their respectives insights. Remote sensing provides evidence of structures (e.g., terraces, roads, pits, channels, etc). Modelling poses relevant questions about the related historical processes (e.g., exploitation of resources, distribution of sites, transport networks, etc.). The combination of both perspectives are expected to ease the selection of study zones and concentrate the focus on finding specific types of structures to test hypotheses on Roman settlement patterns.
Dies van der Linde (Royal Holloway, University of London – Dies.VanDerLinde.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lacey Giles (Independent scholar – email@example.com)
Zena Kamash (Royal Holloway, University of London – Zena.Kamash@rhul.ac.uk)
Ethical Challenges in Roman Archaeology
In recent years, the ethics of archaeology and archaeological practices have turned into a primary subject of debate and matter of concern, but this topic has not received as much discussion amongst Roman archaeologists. This session intends to facilitate and stimulate discussions about ethics and Roman archaeology. Potential topics may relate, but are not limited, to:
1) studying the Roman world: does the study of the Roman world and its archaeology exist outside ethical considerations? If not, are we studying them in an ethical manner? How can we? Are some topics and methodologies more ethically problematic than others?
2) knowledge generation and validation: who controls the narratives we construct about Roman archaeology? What ethical parameters exist for the construction of these narratives? How can we, for example, balance a desire for a more open discipline with the need to monitor appropriation of our discourses?
3) contemporary politics and Roman archaeology: what are the relationships between contemporary politics and Roman archaeology? What are our ethical responsibilities, for example, in working in conflict zones or countries under dictatorial regimes?
4) intersectionality and Roman archaeology: what role can Roman archaeologists play in addressing the field’s historical biases, e.g. decolonizing archaeology? To what extent are our research practices equitable and inclusive across a range of minority groups?
We encourage proposals for 5-minute introductions of ethical challenges followed by discussions. We will, however, consider proposals for 20-minute talks.
Francesca Mazzilli (Cambridge Archaeological Unit – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Oscar Aldred (Cambridge Archaeological Unit – email@example.com)
What happens when we dig big: recent work on huge datasets in Roman Archaeology
Often Roman sites produce incredibly rich datasets. For example, the excavations along the A14 and the new town at Longstanton in Cambridgeshire have collected huge amounts of Roman artefacts. Furthermore, synthesis projects such as The Rural Settlement of Roman Britain project, and the Oxford Roman Economy Project have pulled together large datasets from multiple excavations, surveys and research projects. With much of the data accessible online, there are further opportunities for others to assess large-scale trends in the ‘data’. In this session we want to explore the impact of large datasets derived from excavations and synthesis projects, and scrutinise what the opportunities and challenges are for archaeology. To do this, for example, we might asses from a theoretical perspective what the issues are related to Roman archaeology, or through theory-practice approaches to determine what analyses of might advance our knowledge of the Roman past. Alternatively we might assess the role of the public and/or field staff in shaping research designs, what we do with theories and methods, in the broadest sense, with respect to the great mass of material culture, animal bone, human bone, and environmental data. Specifically, this session will examine what the strategies and tactics are in dealing with large datasets, and what kinds of opportunities and challenges these have for Roman archaeology? We invite contributions and experiences from across the Roman world, as well as those involved in commercial and/or academic archaeology, and those working in transition periods.
Kelly Reed (University of Oxford – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lisa Lodwick (University of Oxford – email@example.com)
The Roman Food System: Rethinking the Global and the Local
There is a need to study the production and consumption of food in the Roman period in a more holistic way. Current archaeological systems research is both methodologically and theoretically diverse, sharing elements with approaches such as social network analysis and complexity science. These theories have been used to address a broad array of questions about the relationships between actors, activities and outcomes for individuals and larger groups at a range of social scales and there is increasing consensus of the benefits of such integrated research practices within archaeology. However, when examining food production and consumption in the past, few have employed the use of systems methodologies. The complexity of the Roman food system and the fragmentary archaeological record mean that no one source of evidence should be assessed in isolation. Thus, more can be done to explore food from a more holistic perspective bringing together archaeological evidence such as pottery (e.g. serving food, cooking), buildings (e.g. cooking facilities, storage), stone and metal objects (e.g. agricultural and food preparation equipment, coins for trade), and organic matter (e.g. animal bones and plant remains of the food themselves), as well as literary or iconographic sources.
This session aims to evaluate Roman production and consumption as a whole food system to understand the different actors, activities and outcomes of food from production all the way through to consumption and waste disposal. A food system includes all of the processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population. The network of activities, operating at multiple spatial scales, include the production, processing, transporting, and consumption components connected through complex social, ecological, and economic relationships. This session aims to set the agenda for future integrated, quantitative studies of past food systems, by bringing together participants with a range of different specialisms to enrich our understanding of the ancient Roman food system.
Paolo Cimadomo (University of Naples‘Federico II’ – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alessandra Esposito (King’s College London – email@example.com)
Dario Nappo (University of Naples ‘Federico II’ – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Critical Globalisation: A Theoretical Framework for the ‘Crisis’ of the 3rd Century
The Roman Empire has been recently considered a valid case study for the application of global history and globalisation theories by Roman historians and archaeologists (Pitts and Versluys 2014, Globalisation and the Roman World: World History, Connectivity and Material Culture). This approach highlights the characteristics of the Roman Empire as an interconnected world, where numerous cultural, economic, and religious exchanges took place, creating everywhere a common cultural veneer considered as ‘Roman’.
This panel aims to challenge the concepts of globalisation in the Roman Empire, using as case study the ‘crisis’ of the 3rd century CE. Current scholarship assumes that this connectivity came to an abrupt interruption during that period of crisis (Hekster, de Kleijn and Slootjes 2007, Crises and the Roman Empire). Despite abundant scholarly works on the subject, no satisfactory and shared theory of crisis exists. Combining globalisation and crisis as object of analysis, this panel explores whether the diverse range of trading and cultural Roman links, implied by the globalisation theories, would continue or be disrupted once the imperial world supposedly almost collapsed.
Our main questions are: how can we theoretically define the crisis that affected the Roman Empire in the 3rd century CE: as economic, political, or military? Did it affect the connections across the Roman Empire and how far and how fast did they change? Finally, whether globalisation and crisis were two phenomena mirroring each other, and to what extent was (or was not) a global empire more prone to experience a global crisis?
Thomas Matthews Boehmer (University of Cambridge – email@example.com)
Rebekka Valcke (Birkbeck, University of London – firstname.lastname@example.org)
‘The Reach of Rome’: copying and imitating material culture and practices in the Roman-period provinces
The Roman-period is perceived to have witnessed an extensive circulation of a whole repertoire of artefacts and practices around the provinces. It has been recognised that this flow of ideas, objects, and even people produced a range of responses from communities within the Roman Empire. Striking about many of these responses is that they were often materialised in the form of imitating or copying the ‘original’. Few attempts have been made to come to terms with the implications of imitation in Roman-period archaeology. Past inquiries have explained this concept through theories of Romanisation, the top-down model of Imperialism and through economic measures (e.g. the provision of a cheaper alternative to meet local demand).
However, the risk of these methodological correlations is to equate imitation with fuzzier concepts such as ‘foreign’, ‘native’, ‘local’ and ‘Roman’; attendant implications regarding preconceived values. We need to recontextualise this concept and reconsider the model of imitative material culture beyond this terminology. This session will investigate the extent of these behaviours in order to gain deeper insights into the role of imitations and their localised trajectories within ancient communities.
We welcome papers on topics relating to one or more of these themes:
- Why did ancient communities imitate certain practices and artefacts?
- Why were certain communities not actively engaged with this process?
- Does the value and use of an imitation change in comparison to its original counterpart?
- Should we define all these practices as imitation, or should there be separate sub-categories?
Andrew Gardner (University College London – email@example.com)
Mauro Puddu (Independent Researcher – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Roman Subaltern Studies: Highlighting Subalterns’ Signs in the Archaeological Record
Classical archaeology has traditionally reconstructed the life and death of elites in the Roman empire. But who are the non-elites? Although there have been numerous attempts to shed light on the category of the poor in the Roman world, these are not the only counterparts to elites. This session asks contributors to reflect upon the specific category of ‘subalterns’ as theorised by Antonio Gramsci. Marxist approaches have had a chequered history in the Anglophone tradition of Roman archaeology but there is a connective thread linking Gramsci’s work with the post-colonial scholarship of figures influential in Roman archaeology in the 1990s and early 2000s. While globalisation theory has since moved the field in a more positivist direction, it is time to continue seeking to recover, indeed to properly define, the subaltern voices of the Roman world. Thus, we invite engagement with the way Gramsci discusses subalterns in his Prison Notebook 25. Gramsci created a socio-historical framework in which subalterns are defined by the absence of any direct relationship of ownership with history; they do not make history, but disappear from it. Yet, they are used by the elites to create history, producing an enormous quantity of material signs that we have the opportunity to recognise and the duty to interpret as such. The social location of these people may be expected to vary in time and space within the empire, and indeed might encompass those beyond it, but evidence of their praxis can be recovered and through that, their existence.
Anton Baryshnikov (Russian State University for the Humanities – email@example.com)
Kala Drewniak (University of Bonn – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Marjolijn Kok (Independent Researcher – email@example.com)
Anna-Katharina Rieger (University of Graz – firstname.lastname@example.org)
“We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!” How to operationalise marginality in Roman archaeology
Within the examination of the Roman World, an imbalance of research interests in favour of popular key aspects connected to social, political, and economic power is still noticeable. Yet, the impact of marginalised people or space is far too often underestimated in both, methodological, and descriptive regards. Shaping histories of the Roman world, we rarely look for alternative mind-sets and are tempted to reproduce habitual narratives from central sources. This session questions the focus on aspects, where economic and political power allowed for an accumulation of “rich” evidence, while “poor” aspects of the past are often neglected. Therefore, this session will examine marginalised people, space and concepts and targets phenomena, such as historiographies of marginalised groups, the impact of border-zones or places “in-between” and alternative approaches to traditional research models, based on a holistic and bottom-up perspective. What we are seeking for are theoretical concepts that provide a framework for the examination of the margins in and of the Roman world and open the discussion on their relevance and applicability. This approach will be vital in order to understand core aspects of Roman history ranging from the utilization of resources, economic behaviour, adaptation, and migration to the spread of ideas, or religious change, as marginal groups and regions can serve as markers for resilience or fragility of larger systems in moments of ecological, political or economic crisis. The challenge for researchers is to question the narratives of their own field. This means to climb over imaginary walls created by research tradition, to move beyond the margins of theory and borders of disciplines, and to establish interdisciplinary frameworks, which allow for creating a complex and dynamic picture of the past. This session aims to provide a first step towards new perspectives on the margins and of the Roman Empire.
Alessandra Esposito (King’s College London – email@example.com)
Kaja Stemberger Flegar (Archaeologist – firstname.lastname@example.org)
From trench to press
The Roman world has been a focus of fascination and research for several centuries. It is at the centre of countless collections as well as studies, reports, and publications. This research outpour has become an object of research in itself, as archaeologists working on ancient sites have to often engage with older publications produced when the standards of archaeological investigations and associated publications were different from the ones expected today.
This session focuses primarily on studying material from old(er) excavations using new methodological approaches to the reinterpretation of old reports with the aim of bridging the gaps between modern archaeology and pre-WWI archaeology. A second key issue covered in this session is how to approach an excavation in areas that were already excavated in the past and consequently, how to address the problems posed by old documentation in such cases. Finally, the session is concerned with how to deal with material from sites with missing documentation, also accounting for geographical biases resulting from different historical traditions of archaeological analyses.
By exploring past and modern approaches to old methodologies, this session addresses the manifold obstacles that are encountered on the way from initial discovery and excavation to analysis and final publication of a site and its finds, while assessing the significance of past archaeological endeavours for the advancement of the general scientific knowledge of the Roman period.
Nicky Garland (Newcastle University – email@example.com)
Romanists Assemble: Collaboration in the past and present
Modern society is divisive and individualistic, resulting in a world of ‘selfies’, social media and celebrity culture. In turn, and despite past debate (Thomas 2004), Roman studies continues to focus on the role of individuals, ensuring that our research is elite focused, top-down and dismissive of the general populace. Partly this reflects modern scholarship, as even within the highly collaborative atmosphere of TRAC, only 6.2% of all TRAC publications are authored by two or more scholars[i].
Social theorists argue that the modern view of individuality is a “fantasy”, designed to create division and inequality (Hernando 2017). In both the past and present people were/are inextricably connected to a myriad of social groups, be they social, political or economic in nature. Consequently, understanding collaboration or collective action in the present allows us to better appreciate the interactions between past societies, both over time and on different social scales.
This session seeks to better understand the role of collaboration in the past, present and future. We ask for contributions (preferably but not exclusively from collaborators) that explore how collectives and/or collective action operates in the past and present, and importantly what impact this understanding will have on the future of Roman studies.
- Hernando, A. 2017. The Fantasy of Individuality: On the Sociohistorical Construction of the Modern Subject. Springer.
- Thomas, J, 2004. Archaeology and Modernity. Psychology Press.
- [i] Data taken from TRAJ website (traj.openlibhums.org). Includes all TRAC conference proceedings, two themed volumes and two TRAJ volumes. Of 335 articles total, 48 were produced by two or more authors including editorials and introductions. Excluding editorials and introductions only 21 papers were produced by two or more authors.
Dustin McKenzie (Macquarie University – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rubén Montoya González (University of Leicester – email@example.com)
Luca Mazzini (University of Leicester – firstname.lastname@example.org)
From Globalization to Glocalization: Exploring Provincial Identities under Rome’s Globalising Empire
In recent decades, the existence of global, homogeneous, interconnected, flows across different types of material culture, social groups and geographies all over the Roman world has been rethought beyond the existence of conceptual and physical boundaries (see e.g. Witcher 2018; Egri and Jackes 2016; Scott and Webster 2003).
One of the most promising frameworks that has developed out of the focus on diversity and unity in a globalizing network is the theoretical concept of glocalization, or ‘the refraction of a global phenomenon through local entities’ (Roudometof 2015). However, the glocalization framework as applied to archaeological studies remains overlooked (Barrett et al. 2018: 11-32) and, in many cases, un-theorized. With this in mind, this panel will explore how within the globalising Roman world, identity was differently manifested and material culture was discretely present in the provinces; particularly as it pertains to the realities of glocal identities as the result of the interconnectivity of peoples, ideas, technologies and the diverse and uniting nature of the Roman world. Each paper investigates the impact Rome’s globalising presence had on the formation, negotiation, and continuation of glocal identities through material evidence. Some of the questions to be discussed are: How the glocalization framework can help us to further understand processes of cultural contact and change in the Roman world? To what extent the glocalization framework can throw new light on the study of local and regional practices within a seemingly globalized world? We welcome papers dealing with different types of evidence, from different chronologies, related to glocalization.
Tibor Grüll (University of Pécs – email@example.com)
David Wallace-Hare (University of Toronto – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Panel Sponsor: SDEP (Structural Determinants of Economic Performance in the Roman World, Ghent University)
Theorizing Ethnic Economies in the Roman Empire (SDEP sponsored panel)
Pecoud 2010 problematizes a single concept of modern ‘ethnic economies’ by fragmenting it into a series of diverse underlying themes highly productive for thinking about how we can approach the formation of ethnic economies in the Roman world and the diversity represented therein by asking questions arising from sociological scholarship on more recent ethnic economies. According to Pecoud, ethnic economies could be defined as: a) a set of connections/regular patterns of interactions among a group of people sharing common national background and/or migration experiences (Waldinger et al.1990:33), b) situations where shared ethnicity provides some sort of economic advantage (Logan et al. 1994: 693), c) an economic network including not only participants in ethnic enterprises, but also their co-ethnic customers and pool of potential of employees as well, whose availability and concentration in a community could increase the viability of such ethnic enterprises (Spenner and Bean 1999:1026), d) enterprises from the same ethnic group, without an assumption that they only have employees drawn from their own community (Strüder 2003:187), or e) ethnic minority entrepreneurs as business owners or self-employed individuals “who self-identify with a particular ethnic (geographically or religiously based) group.” (Menzies et al. 2003: 128). In this light, the current panel aims to use archaeological and epigraphic data to illuminate the Roman immigrant experience and explore the operation of pre-Roman ethnicities professionally in areas which came under Roman occupation.
- Logan et al. 1994 = Logan, J.R., R.D. Alba, and T.L. McNulty: Ethnic economies in metropolitan regions: Miami and beyond. Social forces, 72 (3), 691-724.
- Menzies et al. 2003 = Menzies, T.; G. A. Brenner; and L. J. Filion: Social capital, networks and ethnic minority entrepreneurs: transnational entrepreneurship and bootstrap capitalism. In:
- H. Etemad and R. Wright (eds.): Globalization and Entrepreneurship: Policy and Strategy Perspectives. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 125-151.
- Pecoud 2010 = Pécoud, A.: What is ethnic in an ethnic economy? International Review of Sociology 20(1), pp. 59-76.
- Spenner and Bean 1999 = Spenner, D.; F. D. Bean: Self-employment concentration and earnings among Mexican immigrants in the U.S. Social forces 77(3), pp. 1021-1047.
- Strüder 2003 = Struder, I.: Self-employed Turkish-speaking women in London. The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation 4(3), pp. 185-195.
- Waldinger et al. 1990 = Waldinger, R.; H. Aldrich, and R. Ward (eds.): Ethnic Entrepreneurs. Immigrant Business in Industrial Societies. New-bury Park: Sage.
Andrew McLean (University of Edinburgh – email@example.com)
James Page (University of Edinburgh – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Stella Rendina (University of Cádiz – email@example.com)
Trade and Connectivity in the Adriatic and its Hinterlands
The Adriatic and its hinterlands occupied a central place in the geography of the Roman world. The sea provided north-south connections between Northern Italy and the rest of the Mediterranean, east-west connections between the Italian peninsula and Illyricum, and acted as a gateway into the economies of Northern Italy and the north-eastern provinces. Indeed, the Adriatic can act as a microcosm for connections across the Roman Mediterranean world. Despite this, studies rarely consider the entire region, and new theoretical approaches to modelling these connections and their impact have yet to be applied here. Advances in network analysis and attempts to incorporate circuit theory into connectivity models can be clearly noted in disciplines such as ecology, but these new theoretical perspectives have yet to be meaningfully adopted or discussed in this Roman archaeological context.
This session aims to address this imbalance and lack of quantitative methods by bringing together researchers to think about the Adriatic as a distinct regional entity, and to demonstrate how a modern theoretical framework, focussing on improving models of trade and connectivity, can be incorporated into studies of the region. We invite speakers to address questions such as: How did Adriatic trade networks manifest themselves? How can ancient connectivity be more meaningfully modelled? To what extent did the Adriatic afford closer trade connections between opposing coasts than between coast and hinterland? We welcome papers that seek to answer such questions, regarding ancient history and archaeology, through the application of GIS, statistical, or other quantitative approaches.
Paolo Maranzana (Koç University – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Brandon McDonald (University of Oxford – email@example.com)
Sustainable urbanism in the Roman World: settlement, environment and economy
The recent debate around K. Harper’s Fate of Rome has underlined the need to include environmental data within the study of the Roman world. Such evidence, however, has been mostly applied to the investigation of broad historical themes, such as pan-Mediterranean economic development and environmental over-exploitation. This panel aims to extend the use of environmental data to a narrower focus: the examination of the development of Roman settlement pattern. In particular, the panel interrogates the framework of “urban metabolism” in the study of Roman settlements, a concept that defines cities as “the sum total of the technical and socio-economic processes that occur in cities, resulting in growth, production of energy, and elimination of waste” (Kennedy et al., 2007). Papers in this panel will consider the extent of the ecological and economic footprint of the Roman city as well as to what extent Roman settlement patterns were economically and environmentally sustainable. Since relationships between settlements, the natural environment and economic networks are not static, papers will examine how these relationships change over time as well as the ability of Roman settlements to respond to external and internal stress.
Lindsay Banfield (University of Reading – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Owen Kearn (University of Bournemouth – email@example.com)
The Fabric of Empire: Current Approaches to Researching Roman Stone and Ceramic Building Material
Ceramic building material, building stone and ‘utilitarian’ stone objects are often overlooked in studies of Roman material culture, yet were ubiquitous and important in many aspects of daily life. In recent years, however, new methods and theoretical approaches have been developed that enable more nuanced investigations to be undertaken.
Methodological work has focused on research into provenance, manufacture and distribution of stone objects and ceramic or stone building materials largely through the systematic application of geochemical and thin section analyses, and the development of mapping tools, such as GIS. This session aims to contextualise these advances within current theoretical frameworks, to show how these humble objects relate to identity and culture change. Lifecycle and ‘object biography’ approaches (Kopytoff, 1986; Gosden & Marshall, 1999) have great potential for long-lived materials frequently deposited in unusual ways, such as querns. The significance of these materials can also be considered in both economic and social terms through the application of globalisation theory (Verlsuys & Pitts, 2015). Accordingly, the session will yield new data for interpreting the wider context of the Roman economy, infrastructure, chronological change and interconnectivity on regional, inter-regional and local scales. The Empire-wide variability of these factors is an important consideration when exploring how the actions and choices of populations with differing perspectives affected how these materials were socially and spatially distributed and used.
We welcome papers from archaeology, ancient history or other related disciplines that explore Roman period ceramic building material or stone; either as building stone or ‘utilitarian’ stone objects.