Design a site like this with
Get started


1. The Materiality of Roman Roads

Chaired by Ulla Rajala (Stockholm, Sweden),; Francesca Fulminante (Hanse-Wissenshaft Kollegen, Germany & Bristol, UK),; Joseph Lewis (Cambridge, UK),

Roman roads are often discussed in relation to connectivity but less as a relational entity in their own right. In this session, we would like to encourage discussion on the landscape-making and socialising aspects of Roman roads. The roads were both a physical feature with characteristics and an enculturating element introducing individuals to the Roman world. They were part of a Roman landscape that can be characterised by typically Roman – or Romano-British – settlement forms, linear features, and ritual elements. They were part of an empire-wide network, but not all roads were the same: some incorporated parts of earlier ways of communication and referred to earlier times, with others showing resilience by remaining visible elements in structuring the post-Roman landscape. 

We invite talks about the interaction between physical and ideological aspects of pre-Roman and Roman roads, the historical context of Roman road building in different parts of the Empire, the different methods used to study the materiality of the roads, and the aftereffect on the colonial and imperial endeavor. Your talk can take a landscape perspective or a microhistorical approach and present a pre-Roman or Roman case study. We encourage contributions about scientific collaborations and ethnoarchaeological approaches.

2. New Approaches to Ritual in the Roman World.

Chaired by Alessandra Esposito (King’s Digital Lab),; Jason Lundock (Full Sail University),; Kaja Stemberger,( PJP d.o.o.),; David Walsh (Newcastle University),

This session aims at expanding our current understanding of what are considered ‘ritual’ behaviours in the Roman period by looking at instances of ritual performances both in the ancient and the modern worlds. Understood as functioning as a globalised/glocalised system, the Roman world fostered a spectrum of ritualised behaviours in its different regions and in different periods resulting from a long habit of incorporating and rejecting local traditions encountered during its expansion as well as interfacing with those of the peoples outside its borders.

Drawing from current developments in the fields of psychology, anthropology, and sociology, the session will foster comparisons of Roman ritual behaviours from across different time periods and places. The contributions to this session will look at instances of continuity of use of ritual sites, including across the pre-Roman/Roman/post-Roman transitions, as well as instances of modern uses of Roman period ritual spaces so to frame ritual behaviours beyond the traditional connection of ritual practices and religious beliefs.

3. The Good, the Bad and the Klingon: How may pop and nerd culture influence Roman archaeologists and historians?

Chaired by Ljubica JL.P. Perinic, (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts); Anton Ye. Noif. Baryshnikov, (Russian State University for the Humanities)

‘The historian (and for that matter the philosopher) is not God, looking at the world from above and outside. He is a man, and a man of his own time and place’, stated Robin Collingwood when he criticized Fichte in the ‘Idea of History’. This session is not aimed to criticize Fichte for this topic is too hot and sensitive; instead, the purpose of it is to discuss the influence and impact of pop and nerd culture on Roman studies. Philosophy, for that matter, is not a technical issue. It is our sense of what life honestly means, and our individual way of feeling the total push and pressure of the cosmos, as Captain Picard from Star Trek would say.

Fiction and comics, movies and cartoons, series and tv shows, popular music and video games form the part of the cultural environment and contribute greatly (though many times unnoticed) to the background of scholars. They, as well as their background, may provide researchers with inspiration, offer some hints and clues; but they also can serve as obstacles, features of the conceptual framework that distorts our reconstructions of the past. This is the reason we have chosen to reflect on how different media may help and inspire the research. Also, it is a good cause to speak about the 25th episode of the 2nd season of Star Trek; and to speak of it was our life goal from the 15th of March 1968.

4. Crossing the Barriers: benefits of interdisciplinary research in archaeology

Chaired by Dr Maria C. Monteleone, (Research Fellow, Department of Mechanical and Construction Engineering, Northumbria University); Prof Elena Sánchez López, (Departamento de Prehistoria y Arqueología, Universidad de Granada); Dr Davide Motta, (Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Construction Engineering, Northumbria University)

Interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations have increasingly become a fruitful way to advance research in archaeology and deepen perspectives far beyond the boundaries of consolidated approaches. 

Insights from traditional archaeological data collection and surveys can significantly be enhanced through interpretation and analysis with the tools of other disciplines, such as architecture, civil engineering, archaeohydrology or social sciences, and instruments such as digital technologies. These disciplines and methods can, in turn, support or direct campaigns of archaeological data collection.

We invite contributions illustrating the experience and benefits of interdisciplinary research in archaeology, regarding, for instance, an improvement in the understanding of the systems observed, collection and sharing of data, communication of results and terminology development, access to funding, and enrichment of the personal scenarios of academic research.

5. Articulating Everyday Life under Expanding Roman Power in 400 – 100 BC Central Italy

Chaired by Barbara Borgers, University of Vienna, Austria,; Antonio Francesco Ferrandes, Università Sapienza di Roma, Italy;

This session aims to assess the impact of Rome’s growing power on people’s everyday life in Central Italy during the Mid- and Late Republican periods (400 – 100 BC). It uses cooking ware as a lens through which to investigate Rome’s influence during this period of socio-economic and technological developments. Central Italy offers an interesting case study for assessing Rome’s radiating power underlying socio-economic and technological interactions, given that it was the first region that came under Rome’s control. A key objective is to illuminate how particular mechanisms of communication affected the everyday life of the rural population in Rome’s hinterland. For instance, the development of infrastructure, such as the Via Appia, or interactions, including trading centres (known as emporia) and harbours, carry tacit indications of Rome’s expanding power, yet the impact on people’s everyday life remains poorly understood. How did foodways develop between 400 and 100 BC? Can changes be identified in production or trade networks of cooking ware in the light of new Roman communication mechanisms?

While Central Italy is a valuable study area, this session aims to better understand the socio-economic and technological interactions that facilitated the transmission of Rome’s power. Using cooking ware as a proxy, the session is a methodologically driven workshop that seeks to incorporate case studies focusing on theoretical perspectives and digital humanities, including foodways and network analysis, as well as material science methods, such as typo-technological innovation, to assess the influence of Rome’s expanding power on people’s everyday life. While the proposed session deals with a specific part of the world, its merging with a broader theoretical and materials science framework, combined with the impact of communication networks, will facilitate new dialogues and understanding of cross-regional studies in the Mediterranean. 

6. Roman Archaeology and Sustainability

Chaired by Sarah Scoppie (Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart, Germany)

‘Sustainability’ has been one of the buzzwords of 2022 across traditional and social media. This surge in popularity not only happened within the context of a climate and a cost-of-living crisis but also a general trend towards an eco-friendlier lifestyle. However, beyond individual aims to waste less food or argue against long-distance travel, sustainability is at the forefront of the Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN General Assembly, 2015)

Of particular interest to archaeology and cultural heritage are SDG 4 – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” – and SDG 11.4 – to “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage” – linking to the work of UNESCO and the World Heritage Centre. Large-scale, transnational achievements, such as the inscription of the Frontiers of The Roman Empire (1987), should be complemented by new approaches to open-access data and digital archaeology, based, for example, on the FAIR principles (findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability of data).

Lastly, sustainability ought to be actively researched as an aspect of Roman culture. If perhaps not aligned to 21st century SDGs, the Roman social life, politics, and economics were, at least in part, driven by a desire to tackle poverty and hunger, to ensure good public and individual health, to maintain and expand infrastructure, and for peace and economic growth. Aspects of sustainable development across the Roman world have been, and continue to be, researched, from urban water supply infrastructure to the reuse of urban spaces such as gardens or recycling.

This session invites speakers to present aspects of sustainability within research on  Roman archaeology – both past and present – as well as research on sustainability in the Roman world. Papers can be presented as traditional papers of 20 minutes or lightning papers of 5 minutes. 

7. Human-natural environment relationships in the Roman Empire. A session in memory of Dr. Lisa Lodwick (1988-2022)

Chaired by TRAC Standing Committee

This session invites contributions exploring the value of archaeobotanical, survey, textual and artefactual evidence in pursuit of questions of the relationships between people and the landscapes, environments and plants around them in the context of the evidence from the Roman provinces.

The session seeks to surface the emerging work of young scholars in the field, including but not limited to engagement with notions of non-human agency, plant materiality, and new materialism perspectives more widely in the fields of archaeobotanical, landscape studies, and Roman archaeology.  

The session is organised by the TRAC Standing Committee members and is aimed at providing a reflection on Lisa’s contributions.  

8. Theoretical Frameworks in Sociology and the Roman World. Chances and Limitations

Chaired by Felix Sadebeck, University of Exeter,

Applying theoretical frameworks from modern sociology to interpret phenomena from the Roman world is a common and well-established approach. However, these applications often lack the appropriate diligence. More often than not, researchers tend to  cherry-pick the big names of sociologist theory, extrapolating specific aspects of a much more complex theoretical construct. Subsequently,  categories and termina are applied without their original context to serve the interpretational need of the applicator.

This session is not proposing a stop to this praxis. Historians and Archaeologists can rarely become experts in the whole complex theoretical constructs of several sociologists – a task set aside for sociologists themselves – as their capacity is limited: after all, analysing sources of Roman history should remain the primary occupation. However, it seems reasonable that a more self-critical approach in applying fragments of complex theoretical constructs to fragments of Roman history might enhance our research culture.  Be it among original sources or theoretical constructs, cherry-picking must be avoided.

Therefore, this session invites paper discussing the opportunities and limitations of using theory from sociology to interpret phenomena of the Roman world. How can we use the theoretical frameworks offered by Max Weber, Pierre Bourdieu, Hannah Arnedt, and others with due diligence? How can we avoid involuntary cherry-picking in complex theory? What benefit is there in using these frameworks at all? And how should we as a research community deal with the chances and limits offered to us by sociologist theory?

9. Exploring Consumption Through Materiality in Roman Pottery and Other Small Finds.

Chaired by Cristina Crizbasan, University of Exeter,; Alasdair Gilmour, University of Exeter,

The consumption of physical objects, both individually and en masse, formed a vital part of the lives of individuals across and beyond the Roman world, and their archaeological presence offers significant potential to reveal both snapshots of particular moments in time
and extended perspectives on the lives of individuals and communities. Especially when objects were distant from their sites of physical production or cultural origin, the choices individuals made regarding if, how, and why they were consumed would have been significantly impacted by the materiality of the objects: their shape, colour, texture, and form, in addition to their cultural connotations.

While these themes are present across Roman material culture, pottery is especially well suited to discussions of materiality. As well as being one of the most ubiquitous classes of Roman archaeological material culture, pottery has the benefit of being both culturally and chronologically sensitive, providing evidence of cultural influences and changes through shifting and evolving morphologies and styles, and elucidating wider patterns of globalisation, identity, standardisation, and consumption.

This session aims to explore how the materiality of ceramics across the Roman world influenced the decisions made by the individuals consuming them, and what these decisions can tell us about broader patterns of consumption in the Roman world. We welcome papers
discussing theoretical approaches to pottery consumption, especially those engaging with materiality and themes of social practice, objectscapes and identity, as well as materiality-focused discussions of other elements of Roman material culture.

10. Deconstructing hybrid identities. Multidisciplinary approaches on the Iron Age-Roman transition in the Iberian Peninsula

Chaired by Victorino Mayoral Herrera (Instituto de Arqueología, Mérida (IAM) CSIC-Junta de Extremadura).; Carlos Cáceres-Puerto (Instituto de Arqueología, Mérida (IAM) CSIC-Junta de Extremadura).

Romanisation was not a unilinear transfer of knowledge, culture, or ideas from Rome to their counterparts, as it was traditionally defended by Haverfield (1912), or Mommsen (1968). Modern models, like those developed by Webster (2001), Dietler (2005), or Kalenderian (2020), suggest a hybrid approach in which both parts did adopt foreign elements. Rome, therefore, was not the sole responsible for bestowing their identity upon the conquered communities, since assuming those premises would imply removing the agency of the conquered communities.

The contacts developed at the end of the Iron Age in the Iberian Peninsula supposed the creation of hybrid societies with Romanitas sprinkled with the underlying Iron Age elements. However, the resulting hybrid society followed the Roman ethos, and was in a position of power over the native populations, dominating the socioeconomical processes of the urban centres and their landscape framework. 

The transition between the late Iron Age and the Roman period in the Iberian Peninsula was not an even process of conquest and assimilation of indigenous communities by the Roman Republic. Areas like the Mediterranean coast, and the Northern Plateau became the centre of action of the Roman politic during the 1st century BC whereas the western hinterland was mostly neglected until the Augustan period. This session will evaluate the role developed by the late Iron Age communities in the Iberian Peninsula, and their assimilation process to the Roman sphere, following a multidisciplinary analysis of various Iberian archaeological sites.