What’s it worth? The value(s) of Roman material culture


  • Jo Stoner (University of Kent) j.stoner@kent.ac.uk
  • Boris Burandt (Goethe Universität) burandt@em.uni-frankfurt.de

Object value is a cultural construct dependent on a complex web of contextual information and social meanings. Objects can be valued for a number of reasons – for example, economic worth, personal meaning, or political power. Theoretical approaches from archaeology, anthropology, and other disciplines can be used to identify the values of Roman artefacts, both in the past and present. This session seeks to explore how, and to what extent, the values of objects can be reconstructed, and what this reveals about the role of material culture in Roman society. How and why did objects gain value in the Roman period, and how might these have changed over time? How can investigating object value tell us more about the society in which artefacts were produced and used?

Papers are welcomed on any aspect of Roman material culture and value, however suggested themes include:

• Value-laden behaviours (e.g. hoards; disposability; reuse & recycling; collection & curation)
• Specific theoretical approaches to assessing the values of Roman material culture (e.g. object biography; gift theory).
• Modern value judgements in contemporary scholarship/society towards Roman archaeological material
• The role of production in creating value
• Embodiment of the past (e.g. nostalgia & memory; antique objects)
• The power of objects (e.g. politicisation of material culture; exoticism; consumerism & desirability.

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