New perspectives within commercial Roman archaeology


  • Francesca Mazzilli (Cambridge Archaeological Unit)
  • Oscar Aldred (Cambridge Archaeological Unit)

Commercial archaeology is by definition rescued archaeology. But while research designs underlie the rescue imperative, the additional pressures of tight deadlines and limits in what is excavated, produces pictures about the past which are often different than more research-orientated projects. Without drawing a line between commercial and academic or research archaeology, in this session we would like to explore the opportunities that come with the explosion of large data and the growing number of ‘grey reports’, especially for the Roman period. As more of these commercial projects become available in publication or online, more archaeologists are discussing the results alongside current theoretical research frameworks. As a response, we want to offer an optimistic view of the potential research that underpins commercial archaeology that lends itself to addressing some fundamental questions concerning Roman archaeology in the UK. Following on from the workshop ‘The Praxis of (Roman) Archaeology’ at TRAC 2018, while time constraints are limiting in what can be done, this has led to initiatives and innovations in method and analysis from a variety of directions. This session also aims to situate some of the current, stimulating theoretical discussion; for examples, assemblage theory, networking, inhabitation, materiality, acculturalisation, and processes of Romanisation and sub-regionalities. These also involve new methods of analysis of archaeology in the broader sense but also of material culture, ancient DNA, animal and human osteology. What this session aims to offer a perception of commercial archaeology that allows for its academic context to be brought to the foreground.

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