Order of sessions and other events
7.00 Keynote lecture. Professor Simon James, University of Leicester
Long, long ago (1980) there was a solid consensus on what imperial Rome was about: bringing order and/or civilization to myriad squabbling Old World peoples, through ‘Romanization’. Today, at TRAC, many conflicting views reflect wider recent intellectual trends, comprising post-colonial reappraisal, and post-modern cultural fragmentation. Acquisition of more and better data has also forced us to realise that the Roman world, if politically monolithic, was far from uniform, but characterised by local and regional diversity. We struggle to comprehend the nature and dynamics of this fascinating but immensely complex past world. If there is currently anything resembling a dominant discourse on how it worked, it is probably emphasis on success of the imperial regime in building a system of urbanised civil provinces through rapprochement with local landowning elites. These didn’t simply ‘become Roman’ themselves, building towns and villas: from Spain to Syria they also created new provincial definitions of what Rome was. However, on this view the outer ring of military frontier zones was figuratively as well as literally peripheral. I will argue that, on the contrary, there were parallel processes underway in those military regions which were themselves redefining the meaning of ‘Rome’, on a very different basis, but with equal importance for the history of the Roman world. All this can be explained in terms of trousers: real, textile garments, but also figurative ones, the Trousers of Virtus, and the Trousers of Time…
Ian Marshman, University of Leicester
Anna Walas, University of Leicester
This session brings together a range of contributors from TRACs past and present to engage in a conversation about TRAC, its past, present and future. Following on from the “retrospective” session at TRAC 2011 in Newcastle, the aim is to reinvigorate our commitment to theoretically-minded Roman archaeology and to suggest strategies for TRAC’s future vitality and relevance in the fields of Roman archaeology and the broader discourse of archaeological theory. We will challenge the—very different—notions that 1) TRAC papers should be primarily meta-theoretical and that 2) merely bracketing data between terms like “identity” and “agency” constitutes theory. We will also challenge the increasingly-common perception that TRAC is a “postgraduate conference,” or “RAC Junior” by underscoring the conference’s essential balance between fostering a welcoming and egalitarian forum for the exchanging of ideas, where distinguished professors and students alike are free to challenge us by the efficacy of their ideas rather than institutionalized structures of power, and the expectation that shared ideas will indeed be challenging and theoretically rigorous. Building on TRAC’s history, including portions of that history that were left out of the 2011 retrospective session, the session will offer a primarily prospective perspective, looking to the future of a TRAC that stays true to its roots by continuing to move forward through the development of innovative and challenging theories, as well as new modes of engagement and scholastic community.
Darrell J. Rohl, Durham University
Dr Matthew S. Hobson, University of Leicester
This session seeks papers that a) engage with empirical case-studies, b) critically explore the tension between interpretation and the labelling/processing of material culture, and c) suggest ways of dealing with the labelling of material culture in the context of producing new narratives and/or revising old ones.
Martin Pitts, University of Exeter
Astrid Van Oyen, University of Cambridge
Ian Freestone, University College London
Katherine McDonald’s paper, ‘Oscan Funerary Monuments of Southern Italy’, explores the small number of funerary monuments with Oscan texts from ancient Lucania. She questions the level of Greek and Roman influence which has previously been assumed, as well as the identification of one of these texts as funerary.
Fiona Mowat, in a paper entitled ‘Freedmen and Family Identities in the Roman Empire’ examines the roles of familia and grief in a more precise epigraphic context. She focuses on the individuals who do not declare their status, but are frequently identified as freedmen; she calls for a reassessment of the freedman’s epigraphic habit, ultimately leading to a more complicated picture of Roman society.
Finally, Gabriela Ingle will speak on ‘Christian identity in the Vatican Necropolis? The case of the tomb of the Julii’. This paper re-investigates both Christian and pagan interpretations of the Christ-Sol mosaic in the Vatican. The Christian character of the tomb of the Julii has been emphasised by the Vatican authorities to confirm the religious settings for St. Peter’s grave. She suggests a new (more compromising) solution and a new identity for the tomb’s commissioners.
Katherine McDonald, University of Cambridge
The recent publication of Mark Handley’s Dying on Foreign Shores: Travel and Mobility in the Late Antique West (2012) attests to the continued scholarly interest, after more than a century of debate, in the topic of travel and migration as illuminated by the epigraphic evidence. The emphasis given to inscriptions and literary sources to address questions of social identity, expatriate communities, migration, and cultural transmission, however, has favoured a focus on the élite, military expansion, or trade, whose interpretation tends to incorporate out-dated perspectives of cultural relativism and diffusion. Archaeologists working with material culture are faced with equally serious methodological problems when addressing migration. As Jane Waldbaum said about evidence of Greek presence in the Levant (Waldbaum 1997): ‘how many sherds make a Greek?’, i.e. the study of material culture can only tell us so much about the reasons for such migration, and certainly does not help us understand the identity of the migrants or their own perception of ‘self.’
This panel hopes to discuss both theoretical approaches to the study of migration and cultural transmission and case studies focusing on communities of migrants in the Roman provinces of the Near East and the Levant. We are particularly interested in exploring how the material evidence may be able to shed light on self-perception and representation within migrant communities.
Andrea Zerbini, Royal Holloway, University of London
Justin Yoo, King’s College London
Chair: Kevin Dicus
Presenter: Dr. Kevin Dicus
Institution: Case Western Reserve University
Presentation Title: Contrasting formational processes in Pompeian urban fills
Presenter: Laura Banducci
Institution: University of Michigan
Presentation Title: “Quantity and quality: cistern fills of an Etrusco-Roman town”
Presenter: Gina Tibbott
Institution: Temple University
Presentation Title: Fills of Invisible Function: Uncovering Curation in Roman Construction
In our globalized academic world, constrained by the current economic climate and a growing lack of trust among European nations, researchers need to work beyond boundaries more than ever before. Thus, collaborative international work might become the main route to success in research in the very near future. The presentation of comparative regional studies is a way to articulate this collaborative approach.
Such is the aim of this session, to assess the distinct national approaches to the topic of Romano-Barbarian interactions, using a comparative approach. Through the presentation of different regional case studies, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of current national perspectives and views on different types of interaction (cultural, religious, diplomatic and military) that occurred between the Romans and the ‘Barbarian’/native population. This will be an attempt to produce a modern multinational collaboration about ancient multicultural and multiregional interaction.
Therefore, the content of this session spreads geographically, chronologically and thematically: from Denmark to Spain, from the Roman Iron Age to the Late Empire, from religious and cultural interactions between Celts, Germans and Romans in the Netherlands to the Vandals diplomatic affairs all along the Empire, from national identities to European frameworks. This variety lies within the very essence of the session and is a factor that makes it interesting.
Despite a recent interest in the influences reaching areas beyond the frontiers during the time of the Roman European dominion and the postcolonial approaches to the topic of cultural clash, the idea of interactions has been generally overseen in favour of a more attractive one-way influence South to North. However, the variety and spread of the Roman archaeological record, together with the consistency of its deposition beyond the imperial frontiers and several other factors such as an increasing recognition of native cultural survival in the Roman provinces or the lack of a global study of these interactions, are enough arguments to place this topic in the very heart of academic debates. Likewise, recent deconstruction of modern national archaeological discourses (e.g. Richard Hingleys’ deconstruction of the colonial background behind the 18th and 19th century archaeological and historical discourses) asks for the analysis of other national ideological and historical frameworks in which these have been created and for a reassessment of the material evidence available.
Sergio Gonzalez Sanchez University of Leicester
Various papers on Roman archaeology with a theoretical component.
The TRAC committee: email@example.com