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The material culture of Roman colonization: anthropological approaches to archaeological interpretations

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:53 authored by John Francis Manley
This thesis will explore the agentive roles of material culture in ancient colonial encounters. It takes as a case study the Roman colonization of southern Britain, from the first century BC onwards. Using ethnographic and theoretical perspectives largely drawn from social anthropology, it seeks to demonstrate that the consumption of certain types of continental material culture by some members of communities in southern Britain, pre-disposed the local population to Roman political annexation in the later part of the first century AD. Once the Roman colonial project proper commenced, different material cultures were introduced by colonial agents to maintain domination over a subaltern population. Throughout, the entanglement of people and things represented a reciprocal continuum, in which things moved people's minds, as much as people got to grips with particular things. In addition it will be suggested that the confrontations of material culture brought about by the colonial encounters affected the colonizer as much as the colonized. The thesis will demonstrate the impact of a variety of novel material cultures by focusing in detail on a key area of southern Britain – Chichester and its immediate environs. Material culture will be examined in four major categories: Landscapes and Buildings; Exchange, Food and Drink; Coinages; Death and Burial. Chapters dealing with these categories will be preceded by an opening chapter on the nature of Roman colonialism, followed by an introductory one on the history and archaeology of southern Britain and the study area. The Conclusion will include some thoughts on the integration of anthropological approaches to archaeological interpretation. I intend that the thesis provides a contribution to the wider debate on the role of material culture in ancient colonial projects, and an example of the increasingly productive bidirectional entanglement of archaeology and anthropology.


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