The following five papers will be offered in the second TRAC General Session:
“Contextualizing Small Finds at Pompeii: A New Take on Old Things
Catherine Baker, Leigh Anne Lieberman, and Christopher Motz
During eight years of excavation and three years of postexcavation processing, the Pompeii
Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia (PARP:PS) has uncovered and processed over
9,000 nonceramic small finds. The quantification and thorough qualification of these artifacts
has allowed us to produce an extensively detailed dataset. As we move towards publication,
our goal has been to produce a catalogue that, while compatible with traditional models that
organize artifacts by material and type, allows us to understand our data in ways that stretch
beyond this established paradigm.
Our goals in this paper are twofold. First, we outline our efforts to organize our artifacts by
traditional typologies while also analyzing groups of artifacts within the chronological, spatial,
and formational characteristics of their find contexts. Second, we present two case studies to
demonstrate how these efforts have aided our understanding of how assemblages came to be
created and how we have applied that understanding toward broader historical questions. It is
our hope that this model will encourage others to approach small finds contextually, in concert
with the many other classes of evidence recovered by modern excavation projects.
“Your place or mine? Eating and drinking practices across Roman London in the 1st century AD”
Michael Marshall, Karen Stewart, and Amy Thorp (Museum of London Archaeology)
Roman London was founded c AD 47 – 51 after the Claudian invasion of southern Britain and in assessing its place in the new province of Britannia archaeological narratives have often focussed on continental styles of architecture and material culture within the city; assumed to reflect the cultural preferences of a largely immigrant population and its role as a major port of trade. However, London was not simply Rome-on-the-Thames and the wealth of data from developer funded archaeology has revealed considerable variation across the city leading some to argue for a remarkably fragmented community, or communities, with diverse tastes. Recent inter-site analysis of quantified ceramic assemblages from across the City of London has indicated major distinctions between different areas of the city in the form of strong associations between certain sites and specific selections of vessels (potentially indicating the use of different suites of ceramic forms). Here we present these results and widen the study remit by drawing in other artefact types and environmental evidence to test whether these distinctions withstand further scrutiny. By exploring the strength and character of connections between different types of data the aim is to gain a more complete understanding of the relationship between different eating and drinking practices in Roman London and how they combined to form more or less distinct foodways within the city.
“Cooking Pots, Table Ware, and Storage Ceramics: Culinary Practice and Savoir-faire in Roman Nora (CA-South Sardinia)”
Cristina Nervi (MIUR-Ministero dell’Università dell’Istruzione e della Ricerca)
Nora – a Southern Sardinia port- presents a various common ware typology: forms, that are linked, sometimes, with their morphological prototypes.
Is there a relationship between the form and its content? It is possible to reconstruct the functions of the vessels basing on their features?
Ancient authors report the connection between vessels and cooking practice, as well as the animal bones remains and the paleobotanical data allow us to partially reconstruct the eating habits of Nora.
The morphological characteristics of the forms may be connected with the ancient eating trends and their function maybe sometimes explicit, but at the same time hide obscure aspects.
Common ware study is linked with the use of the vessels (casseroles, pots, frying pans, lids, dish, jugs) and reveals us the everyday uses of the inhabitants of Nora, strictly connected –in some cases- with their precursors: the Punics.
“Reassessing Roman building materials: economics, logistics and social factors in the supply of tile and stone to Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire”
Edward Peveler (University of Oxford)
This research proposes a new methodology for studying Roman ceramic and stone building materials. These two materials have generally been poorly researched; a new synthesised approach is presented, analysing in parallel the two materials, and utilising thin-section microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and digital image analysis for precisely characterising fabrics.
Using primary material from the Roman ‘small town’ of Dorchester on Thames, Oxfordshire, this research shows that these bulk goods were transported over significant distances, by both road and river, to the town. Materials identified include certain ceramic fabrics such as the ‘pink grog-tempered ware’ from Buckinghamshire, which is seen in tegulae and imbrices used at Dorchester, and stone types such as Forest Marble from the Cotswold Hills, which made stone roof tiles used at the site. The organisation of the production of these materials, the mechanisms, logistics, and routeways involved in their transport, and their materiality and the social and economic factors driving their distribution, are discussed.
The major outcomes of this research include a strong case arguing for the better and more regular analysis of building materials as a synthesised material assemblage: such an analysis has the power to inform us about a range of themes, including Roman production, trade, economics, and society, across a relatively wide ‘class’ spectrum. In addition this work adds useful evidence to assist our understanding of Roman “small towns.” The role of these sites in the Roman settlement hierarchy and their social and economic function are generally poorly understood; through examining the Dorchester building material new insight will be gained into the purchasing power of individuals within the town, social identities and aspirations of the community, and the participation of the settlement in regional markets and networks.
“The translation of the context: a case study from Portugal”
Vincenzo Soria (University of Lisbon)
Archaeology is a discipline mainly framed by the necessity to interpret data. This aspect leads to overlook
other possible approaches to data that would not be limited into established frameworks.
In this respect, scholars pointed out the inadequacy of the grand theories (Van Ojen 2015) and the tendency of
shaping artefactual evidences on historic accounts as explanatory tools (Cadiou 2008).
In fact, several archaeological sites show a different reality not restricted to the representation of the
community as composed by monolithic ethnic groups (Garcia Fernández 2007). For this reason, it is needed a
refined approach for the analysis of archaeological finds.
Recognizing the role of the agency as symmetrically distributed (Knappett-Malafouris 2008), it will be possible
to switch the attention from causality to contingency (Van der Leew 2008), allowing the descriptive treatment
of all the entities regardless their ontologies.
The case study of Monte das Covas 3 (central Portugal) has been chosen in order to explore the process of
“translation” (Callon 1986): deploying the principal actors, it will be possible a circumstantial description of
the relations between them and to show how different entities are defined in a specific practice.
Cadiou, F. 2008 Hibera in terra miles. Les armées romaines et la conquête de l’Hispanie sous la République
(218-45 av. J.-C.), Casa de Velazquez, Madrid.
Callon, M. 1986 Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the
Fishermen of St Brieuc Bay, in Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge, Law, J. (ed.).
London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, p. 196 -233.
Foucault, M. 2013  L’archeologia del sapere. Rizzoli BUR, Milano.
Garcia Fernández, F. J. 2007 Etnología y etnias de la Turdetania en época prerromana, in CuPAUAM 33, p.
Knappett, C.; Malafouris, L. (eds.) 2008 Material agency. Towards a non-anthropocentric approach. New
Latour, B. 2005 Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford University Press.
Van Ojen, A. 2015 Deconstructing and reassembling the Romanization debate through the lens of postcolonial
theory: from global to local and back?, in Terra Incognita 5, p. 205-226.