Burial, Society and Context in the Roman World

Burial, Society and Context in the Roman World

By (author) John Pearce , By (author) Martin Millett , By (author) Manuela Struck

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Although a large number of cemeteries have been explored in Roman Britain they have never been seen as central to the study of the province. This collection of twenty-eight papers, from a symposium held at the University of Durham in 1997, explores different approaches to examine the contribution that cemeteries can make to our wider understanding of Roman society. The papers are grouped under five headings: The reconstruction of mortuary rituals; Burial and social status; The dead in the landscape; Burial and ethnicity and society; Religion and Burial in late Roman Britain and Italy.

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  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 209.8 x 301.2 x 17.5mm | 979.77g
  • 31 Dec 2012
  • Oxbow Books
  • Oxford
  • English
  • b/w illus
  • 1842170341
  • 9781842170342

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As one of the editors of the collection stresses, Roman modes of burial have had relatively scant attention, unless linked to particular historical issues, such as the spread of Christianity. The theoretical possibilities of the so-called archaeology of death have been tried frequently enough upon Greek and Etruscan material: but Rome is no less rich in data. There are several studies included here of mortuary practices in Rome and Italy in later antiquity, but principal consideration is given to the north-west provinces. How funerary rituals can be reconstructed; what burials tell us about social status; how landscapes of commemoration were shaped, and to what extent localized traditions might be Romanized these are the subdivisions of a volume which carries all the signs of current archaeological investigation. Beyond the black-dotted plans and diagrams, what emerges is not so much a prospect of redefining the generalities of some supposedly Roman way of death, but rather the impertinence of such a category. Thanks to the microscopic techniques of examining carbonised plant remains (archaeobotany) and bodily traces (palaeopathology), every excavated grave is redeemed by its own story. To paraphrase Rupert Brooke we shall not hear their trentals, nor eat their arval bread. But to ponder the number of newly-born infants buried in jars at a Gallo-Roman cemetery in the forest of Fontainebleau, and the assortment of grave goods left with the adults there old shoes, coarse potshards, handfuls of nails is insight hinged with the pathos of human fellowship.'--Nigel Spivey"Greece and Rome, 49" (01/01/2002)

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