Marginalised or just on the fringes?


  • Birgitta Hoffmann (Roman Gask Project, MANCENT)

Roman military and civilian settlements are often associated with unusual features at their fringes. These range from large workshop areas such as tanneries or pottery districts (Bonn and Strasbourg), religious sites (Housesteads, Saalburg) to residential areas with unusual finds assemblages. Traditionally, these have been discussed as marginalised groups or activities, representing aspects of Roman, an argument based very much on our understanding of Medieval towns. Modern research amongst others into the position of Fulleries in Pompeii have shown this to be an inappropriate analogy and other explanations such as the availability of resources may be important in the siting of workshop complexes. Meanwhile, the concentration of religious and community facilities of Eastern Roman communities close to the harbours in Rome and elsewhere may be as easily explained as determined by availability of cheap development land, rather than an act of marginalization. Thirdly, the recognition of sites with Iron Age roots away from the Roman city centres (e.g. the Altbachtal sanctuaries in Trier and King Harry Lane Site at Verulamium) show the possible multi-focal developments in Roman settlements, which would turn some fringe development into a secondary settlement core, possibly attracting a different type of residents. Focusing on alternative explanations such as economic factors, multi-focal town development or functional explanations, this session will try to explore to better identify try marginalization in the archaeological record.

Submission format: Case studies papers of 10-minutes and participation in a round table discussion (30 minutes).

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