Small Finds and Ancient Social Practices in the Northwest Provinces of the Roman Empire [Paperback]

Stefanie Hoss (Editor); Alissa Whitmore (Editor)

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ISBN: 9781785702563 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2016 | Language: English 200p, H279 x W215 (mm) b/w and colour

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Small Finds and Ancient Social Practices in the Northwest Provinces of the Roman Empire


Small finds – the stuff of everyday life – offer archaeologists a fascinating glimpse into the material lives of the ancient Romans. These objects hold great promise for unravelling the ins and outs of daily life, especially for the social groups, activities, and regions for which few written sources exist. Focusing on amulets, brooches, socks, hobnails, figurines, needles, and other “mundane” artefacts, these 12 papers use small finds to reconstruct social lives and practices in the Roman Northwest provinces. Taking social life broadly, the various contributions offer insights into the everyday use of objects to express social identities, Roman religious practices in the provinces, and life in military communities. By integrating small finds from the Northwest provinces with material, iconographic, and textual evidence from the whole Roman empire, contributors seek to demystify Roman magic and Mithraic religion, discover the latest trends in ancient fashion (socks with sandals!), explore Roman interactions with Neolithic monuments, and explain unusual finds in unexpected places. Throughout, the authors strive to maintain a critical awareness of archaeological contexts and site formation processes to offer interpretations of past peoples and behaviours that most likely reflect the lived reality of the Romans. While the range of topics in this volume gives it wide appeal, scholars working with small finds, religion, dress, and life in the Northwest provinces will find it especially of interest. Small Finds and Ancient Social Practices grew out of a session at the 2014 Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Small Finds and Ancient Social Practices
Stefanie Hoss and Alissa Whitmore
Small finds, the Body, and Identity
2. Iron footed - hobnail patterns under Roman shoes and their functional meaning
Boris Burandt
3. Wearing socks in sandals: The height of Roman fashion?
Barbara Köstner
4. Laying it on thick - makeup in the Roman Empire
Gisela Michel
5. Of brooches and men
Stefanie Hoss
Religion and Ritual in the Roman Northwest Provinces
6. Ordinary Objects Transformed: the compound natures of material culture
Mara Vejby
7. A Mars with Breasts from Weissenburg in Bavaria
Nicole Birkle
8. Metropolitan Styling: Metal figurines from London and Colchester
Emma Durham
9. Staring at Death: The Jet Gorgoneia of Roman Britain
Adam Parker
Artefacts, Behaviours and Spaces
10. Dining with Mithras – functional aspects of pottery ensembles from Roman Mithraea
Ines Klenner
11. Cloth Working in the Baths? Site Formation Processes, Needles, and Spindle
Whorls in Roman Bathhouse Contexts
Alissa M. Whitmore
12. The complexity of intramural and extramural relationships on the northern frontier of
 Roman Britain - a Vindolanda case study
Andrew R. Birley

Reviews & Quotes

"“Coherence can be an issue with edited volumes of this kind but the papers all share a genuine focus on practice. They illustrate the subtle variations in artefact use and behaviour across space and time and showcase the huge potential of portable material culture to enhance our understanding of the Roman world. The volume is well edited and well illustrated, and it is gratifying to see finds work from both the continent and Britain in the same volume.” "
Hella Eckardt
Ancient West & East (11/01/2019)

"Many of the papers… offer considered discussion of artefacts and the contexts in which they were found. This approach teases out some intriguing patterns and peculariaties leading to discussion on topics ranging from what we should make of amulaets bearing the likelness of a gorgon appearing exclusively in graves in Roman Britain, to votive plaques from Bavaria that feature a figure with the head of Mars and a woman's bosom."
Matthew Sounds
Current Archaeology (29/11/2016)

"This edited volume succeeds in demonstrating that critical analyses of artefacts can reveal unique information about life in the Roman period …[and] combined with the relatively accessible price… it represents a great source of comparative material for anyone researching Roman portable material culture."
Jo Stoner
Britannia (14/08/2019)

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