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LIMES CONGRESS 2022 BOOK STANDS:
Please visit the timetable for the complete scientific program.
Nico Roymans, Manuel Fernàndez-Götz & Erik Graafstal
Affiliation: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Affiliation of co-organiser: University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Affiliation second co-organiser: city of Utrecht, the Netherlands
Session Abstract: In the past decade Roman archaeology has experienced a growing interest in the study of Rome’s military expansion in the tribal frontiers of West- and Central Europe. Examples are the recent hausse in the research of Caesar’s Gallic Wars and of the Augustan campaigns in Northern Spain and Germania. The result is a rapidly growing archaeological dataset which can be used to contextualize and re-assess the historical sources. We also observe a growing interest in the often extremely violent and predatory nature of Roman expansion in the tribal frontiers and in its short-term effects on the indigenous populations.
This latter theme touches on the central aim of this session. We want to focus attention on the social and ethnic dynamics in the tribal frontiers during and directly after the conquest period. Historical sources point to a profound rearrangement of tribal maps and an intense restructuring of local power networks. Among the instruments used by imperial agents are large-scale land expropriation, forced deportation of groups, mass enslavement, genocide, land allocations to pro-Roman groups, and profound interference in intra- and intertribal power relations. The short-term effects of conquest were often highly disruptive, but at the same time the controlled settlement of ‘friendly’ groups and the newly created clientship ties with pro-Roman leaders led to the formation of new tribal (id)entities which often formed the basis towards a formal administrative integration. Potential subjects for this session are:
– Short-term demographic effects of the Roman conquest.
– Studies of group migration in Roman frontiers, thereby using material culture and/or isotopic data.
– Comparative analysis of historical and archaeological data on group migration in tribal frontiers.
– Imperial agency and the genesis of new tribal polities and identity groups in the early post-conquest period.
Silke Lange & Carol van Driel-Murray
Affiliation: BIAX Consult, the Netherlands
Affiliation of co-organiser: Leiden University, the Netherlands
Session Abstract: Although artefacts made of organic materials such as timber, leather and basketry have long attracted attention, they tended to be relegated to the ‘daily life’ sections of publications and have had little impact on the wider narrative of Frontier Studies. In recent years, however, some of the most exciting new insights in Frontier research have emerged from sites with good organic conservation and the application of scientific methods has further increased the informative value of organic remains.
This session is not so much about interesting finds as such, but aims to highlight the contribution of organic materials to new developments in understanding the workings of the Frontier system and the communities in and around the military garrisons. How has the information drawn from organic materials changed our perception of the Roman Frontier?
Topics that might be addressed are: dendrochronology and the impact on the timing of military construction projects, the ecological footprint, the sourcing and transformation of materials. What has research into organic materials added to our understanding of the nature and composition of the civilian communities? Can traditions in woodworking, basketry or clothing help define the origins of communities? Also of importance are the specific problems of excavation in conditions of good organic preservation and, related to this, the demands made on protection and site management.
The contribution of the organic materials has been greatly underestimated and it is time to recognise that the bias in survival has distorted our perception of all aspects of life on the Frontier
Wouter Dhaeze, Erik Graafstal, Tom Hazenberg & Jeroen van Zoolingen
Affiliation: City of Oudenburg, Belgium
Affiliation of co-organiser: city of Utrecht, the Netherlands
Affiliation of second co-organiser: Hazenberg Archeologie, the Netherlands
Affiliation of third co-organiser: city of The Hague, the Netherlands
Session Abstract: At its height the Roman empire’s edges stretched over 29,000 km, half of which bordered the sea. While most of the imperial shores needed little protection, the northern provinces, both on the Continent and in Britain, saw military investment along the coasts in various forms and contexts from the 1st to the early 5th century. A special feature of this seeming backwater was the transport link between the German Rhineland and Britain. This corridor was a vital piece of infrastructure throughout the Roman period. With both the German and British fleets involved in its operation, and many harbour and military sites along it known, we are singularly well informed about this lifeline of the northern Empire.
This session will explore the interconnections between supply and security on the exposed water frontiers of the northern provinces. While Roman land frontiers have been studied in detail, they cannot simply be seen as a blueprint for coastal systems. The latter are often merely seen as extensions of land frontiers in reaction to seaborne raiders, but their purpose, development, operation and tactics are in fact more complicated, and unique for each situation, depending i.a. on the local geography, sealanes and flows of traffic. Recent work on the British shores and the North Sea and Black Sea coasts suggests that their military dispositions can be concerned not just with coastal defence, patrol and transport security, but also with taxation, logistics or communication. River frontiers also deserve a closer look, as they are functional hybrids, merging frontier security and river logistics. In the Rhine delta, especially, the picture gets blurred as coastal and riverine infrastructures merge.
This session intends to explore this broad theme of supply and security under four headings, concentrating on the northern shores and river corridors. The organisers invite papers on the following subjects:
- Hubs, harbours, ships
- River transport, navigation and the maritime seascape
- The range of activities of the German and British fleets
- Coastal security systems: southern North Sea, Cumberland Coast and Litus Saxonicum
- Comparative perspective from Danube and Black Sea region.
Roeland Emaus, Maarten Sepers & Wouter Vos
Affiliation: Saxion University of Applied Sciences / University Leiden, the Netherlands
Affiliation of co-organiser: Saxion University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands
Affiliation of second co-organiser: Saxion University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands
Session Abstract: A growing number of archaeologists are in some way working with what has conveniently been called ‘Digital Technology’: Lidar, aerial photography, GIS, remote sensing, photogrammetry, 3D-modelling, infrared, big data and even machine learning and citizen science are terms and techniques that are emerging and in some disciplines becoming more or less common practice. With these innovations going on for a couple of decades now, we would like to investigate whether this has really changed the way we study the Roman Limes. Without being a specialist in the field of these digital techniques, most Roman Archaeologists know that the combination of several techniques brings forward significant data that was hard to get with the more conventional, analogue methods.
The techniques have promised many opportunities for new research abilities, but do we use them exhaustingly well enough for positing the right and new research questions? Do Roman Archaeologists and Digital Archaeologists speak each other’s language well enough, or are we multiplying the uncertainties of one discipline with the uncertainties of the other? Are we still searching for answers in an old-fashioned mode with – maybe- blinkers on? Or are Roman archaeologists equipped enough for exploring the real possibilities of the 21st century?
The aims of the papers in this session should therefore not focus on the individual site or method used to present the Roman Limes, but should happily deal with the main question which is: does the use of new technology lead to a better understanding of the Roman Limes? Has our research taken a different turn with the advent of a new digital toolbox? Or are we just answering old questions with modern answers? Do we use the full potential of combining the above-mentioned programs, but also, and more important, what are the chances and limitations by using these techniques for a better understanding of the Roman frontier?
Lisa Lodwick & Laura Kooistra
Affiliation: University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Affiliation of 1st co-organiser: BIAX Consult, the Netherlands
Session Abstract: The provisioning of the army and the role of the local population in supplying food has already been the subject of discussion for decades. For a long time, historical sources and the marginal landscape have led to the assumption that the Roman army in the Rhine delta (for example) was mainly supplied with products transported over medium and long distances. In the past twenty years, a large number of agrarian settlements and in addition, several army camps both situated in the Rhine delta have been investigated. Research combining archaeological, archaeobotanical, zooarchaeological, geomorphological and historical data has shed new light upon the way the provisioning of the Roman army in this area was organized. In addition to the traditional research method of data compilation, there has been recent focus on quantitative modelling and agent-based modelling in this area over the past 10 years.
The collation of datasets generated by developer-funded excavations, especially in North-East Gaul and central-southern Britain, have demonstrated that agricultural communities in regions further from the frontiers were orientated towards supplying the Roman army. The application of multi-isotope techniques has provided new insights into the sourcing of animals and crops and the husbandry systems under which they were produced. Meanwhile, increased study of archaeobotanical and faunal assemblages in the Danube region, Noricum, Pannonia, and the Middle East are providing new insights into food supply and allow broader comparison of frontier supply systems in different parts of the Roman Empire.
We would like to invite colleagues to share their researches concerning feeding the Roman army at the borders of the Roman Empire in our session.
Affiliation: University of Leicester, United Kingdom
Session Abstract: Traditionally Roman frontier archaeology acquired a reputation as field led by brilliant men. Research by women has broadly tended to focus on ‘softer’ topics such as analysis of finds assemblages, study of literary sources, approaches to leisure on the frontier, and more recently, the study of environmental material. Gendered differences in the choice of subjects studied often mirrored the division of roles during the excavation of archaeological sites. Conversely, the voices leading on tackling the ‘bigger picture’ questions, addressing issues of frontier systems, structural archaeology of frontier installations and tackling chronology and phasing of individual sites has mostly been accomplished by male scholars.
The Roman frontiers research community is also renown for its openness and collegial support. In the last two decades, there has been a marked increase in the quantity of research produced by female scholars, inviting the opportunity to reflect on this changes and its meaning for the discipline. What approaches are being represented by female scholars? Does gender play a part in the way female scholars approach the archaeological material? Does the increase in the representation of female scholars necessitate engagement with feminist approaches, or not?
The session invites female scholars to present on subjects relating to all themes in archaeology of Roman frontiers in order to review the breadth and scope of research led by women, while reflecting in the discussion on the role of gender in the production of knowledge about Rome’s frontiers.
I would be delighted to chair the session to provide both an opportunity for a celebration of achievements of female scholars and a glimpse into the future through reviewing current themes and interests represented by female Roman frontier archaeologists worldwide.
Tessa de Groot, Tamar Leene, Daniel Poulet & Nigel Mills
Affiliation: Cultural Heritage Agency, the Netherlands
Affiliation of 1st co-organiser: Dutch Limes Association, The Netherlands
Affiliation of 2nd co-organiser: Zsolnay Heritage Management Nonprofit Ltd., Hungary
Affiliation of 3rd co-organiser: Nigel Mills Heritage, United Kingdom
The session will explore issues and approaches concerning the preservation and protection of Roman heritage across the Limes and the challenges and opportunities for communities to contribute to management processes. The session is of particular relevance in view of the impending expansion of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Cluster to include the Lower German Limes and the Danube Limes and will provide an opportunity to share experience and to discuss issues and approaches.
The proposed session is structured as two parts, but there may be overlap between them:
- Part One: Preserving and protecting the Limes. Session organisers: Tessa de Groot & Nigel Mills. This part of the session will focus on exchanging knowledge and experiences on different ways of protecting and preserving archaeological sites and on the preservation and protection aspects of presenting sites to the public. Papers will cover different legislative approaches as well as practical issues on the ground.
- Part Two: Engaging communities in managing the Limes. Session organisers: Tamar Leene, Daniel Poulet &Nigel Mills. This part of the session will focus on community engagement with the processes of managing the Limes including capacity building, knowledge development, community involvement, tourism, dealing with development, visitor experiences and other aspects.
Tatiana Ivleva, Stijn Heeren & Pete Wilson
Affiliation: Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Affiliation co-organiser: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Affiliation second co-organiser: Rarey Archaeology, United Kingdom
Session Abstract: Migration is often treated as a given in LIMES studies. It is undeniable fact that Roman army spurred a large-scale movement of people: at any military fort, be it legionary or auxiliary, soldiers of mixed descent were garrisons together and were supposedly living happily alongside side each other never to settle properly at one place. Widely accepted and often explored is the theme of the movement of peoples and artefacts both into and out of the Roman Empire across its frontiers. Sessions dealing with interfrontier interaction between Roman soldiers and ‘barbarians’, and alongside frontier between soldiers and natives, as well as sessions devoted to the topic of units’ movements and their mixed composition have become a regular feature at LIMES Congresses.
Yet, migration as such was and still is an often-contested issue in archaeology in general. As a discipline it has moved a long way from drawing arrows on maps based on material culture styles in the 19th and early 20th century, with the later 20th century seeing a retreat from migrationism. With the advent of the third science revolution in the recent decades, the ban on migration in archaeology was lifted: strontium isotope studies and aDNA made the identification of migrants easier. Spectacular results were obtained for prehistory and also much work has been invested on the Early Medieval period. Roman provincial archaeology is not far behind these developments with several scientific studies finding evidence for medium and long-distance mobility. However, can the same be said for the Roman frontier studies?
This session invites case-based study papers that focus on method and manifestation: how to recognise and define migration and mobility in a frontier setting. At the same time, we welcome case-based papers that address impact: what was happening on the frontiers when so many people of various origins from places far and near cohabit together? For the latter, we ask potential speakers to consider the following questions: can we detect evidence of clashes, exclusion, and marginalization within the garrisons, or can the example of three-nations series of inscriptions from Birrens (RIB 2100, 2107 and 2108) be extrapolated to the other frontiers? Apart from gathering the evidence for the multi-cultural make-up of the frontiers, the session also aims to move the discussion on and invites papers that explore transgression of personal and social identities within such multicultural milieu. Is there evidence that supports the deliberate construction of ‘home away from home’? Or can we talk of transcultural frontier environment where new norms were produced and curated, not specific to any entity?
Affiliation: Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Session Abstract: The realpolitik of the Western Roman Empire saw its fragmentation and collapse occur throughout the 5th century AD, with different processes of imperial shrinkage and consolidation occurring in the Eastern Empire through the 5th-7th centuries. Historiographic tradition links the end of Roman frontiers with barbarian invasion and settlement and imperial collapse. New archaeological evidence and reassessment of older data has prompted revision of this simple and entangled narrative of barbarian invasion and collapse. Indeed, new scholarship has called for separation if discrete issues and the impact this had on the limitanei and Roman frontiers. This session will address the following questions:
- To what extent have textual sources and national myths pre-determined archaeological interpretation?
- What is the evidence for abandonment or destruction at individual sites?
- How do we recognise barbarians in the archaeological record?
- Is there a difference between Roman occupation of military sites and post-Roman occupation?
- Does the pattern of military occupation match that of urban and rural hinterlands of the frontier?
Martina Meyr & Christof Flügel
Affiliation: Städtische Museen Rottweil, Germany
Affiliation of co-organiser: Landesstelle für die nichtstaatlichen Museen in Bayern, Germany
Session Abstract: Since the groundbreaking research of Paul Zanker and Tonio Hölscher it has been generally acknowledged, how deliberately chosen images influenced the public perception of political and military power in Rome. The “power of images” (Paul Zanker), however, soon entered the private realm and was subject of alterations regarding the “reading of these images”, as e.g. illustrated by middle Imperial Roman wedding rings with the dextrarum iunctio, a motif which had been originally limited to emphasize the unity of the army in times of Civil War. The significance of this symbol had changed, from public to private. Images of the triumphant rider, an image originally confined to the Emperor, were used in gemstones and on private funerary monuments.
Zanker’s and Hölscher’s ideas were, however, never extensively applied to the art and to small finds in the Roman provinces. Concentrating on the example of Roman victory and how this topic was communicated in Rome and at the Edge of Empire, we therefore explicitly welcome contributions from all fields of archaeology, including Classical and Roman Provincial Archaeology, as well as Numismatics, Epigraphy and Ancient History. Especially questions of how these images were used in the provinces and what mechanisms and means of distribution were used are of particular interest, but also papers on public rituals of victory in Rome and her provinces and on the “propaganda use” of the public realm will be appreciated.
- Breeze, D., 2016: They think it’s all over. The face of victory on the British frontier, Journal of Conflict Archaeology 11/1, 19-39. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15740773. 2016.1260817)
- Hölscher, T., 1987: Römische Bildsprache als semantisches System, Heidelberg (Abhandlungen der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil.-hist. Klasse 1987 Nr. 2).
- Hölscher, 2018: Visual power in ancient Greece and Rome. Between art and social reality, Oakland 2018.
- Zanker, P., 1988: The power of images in the age of Augustus, Michigan.
- Zanker, P., 2008: Roman art, Los Angeles 2008.
Janka Istenic & Angel Morillo Cerdan
Affiliation: National Museum of Slovenia, Slovenia
Affiliation of co-organiser: Universitad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
Session Abstract: The Roman army played an important, often pivotal role in the expansion of Roman supremacy. Evidence of Roman military activities abounds, though the military sites from the Republican are far less well researched than later ones. Over the last two decades, significant progress has been made in this field and it is the aim of the proposed full-day session to get an overview of the most recent archaeological research in the Roman military activities during the Republican period. Most of all, the session is intended for papers presenting new archaeological evidence. Papers on the already published evidence will be accepted only if giving a distinctly new interpretation. The session would also include contributions addressing general questions such as the impact (the danger/cases of overuse) of ancient written sources on the dating of Republican military sites.
Jürgen Trumm & Steve Boedecker
Affiliation: Kantonsarchäologie Aargau, Switzerland
Affiliation of co-organiser: LVR-Amt für Bodendenkmalpflege im Rheinland, Germany
Session Abstract: During the last decades, countless rescue excavations and other investigations have taken place at the roman legionary fortresses along the Rhine and the surrounding regions of Germania Superior and Germania Inferior. This is true not only for well-known sites like Vindonissa (Windisch CH), Argentorate (Strasbourg F), Mogontiacum (Mainz D), Bonna (Bonn D), Vetera (Xanten D) and Noviomagus (Nijmegen NL), but also for short-existing sites like Arae Flaviae (Rottweil D), Haltern (D) or Mirebeau (F). The aim of the session is to provide an overall overview to the actual state of research, to mention the most important publications and to discuss open questions for further research. Contributions should not only focus on the military complexe, but should also include civil settlements, cemeteries, roads, manufacturing sites and other aspects. Moreover, the historic significance of each site as well as questions of continuity and discontinuity should be taken into consideration.
Affiliation: University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Session Abstract: Recent studies on aspects of childhood in the Roman world have been reshaping the study of children in antiquity, especially in advocating interdisciplinarity to counterbalance the dominance of literary and documentary approaches towards illuminating children’s lives in ancient society. Children’s experiences differed according to their location, time, gender, and social context, and great strides have been made in considering these factors in scholarly enquiry. Yet, one important context in which there are serious gaps in study is that of military communities and families on the frontiers in any part of the empire. Growing up in a potentially dangerous location dominated by soldiers and combative professionals, who were accompanied by women and families to varying degrees, depending on time and place, may have influenced and impacted the life of a child in very different ways than in a purely civilian milieu in Rome, Italy or other places distant from the frontier zones. Non-Roman children on the fringes of and outside the empire may have had their lives irreversibly altered as well. There is a clear need for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of childhood in this environment. This session will explore the physical environments in which children lived, including the forts, the vici, and canabae, and nearby settlements; the objects and material culture given to children; their place in the household and their social connectivity in military and civilian sectors; their role in the families of serving and veteran soldiers; the experiences children might have had, both negative and positive; the depiction of children as Romans and non-Romans; and the evidence for socialisation and gendered behaviour in life and death. It will utilise funerary commemoration and epigraphy, texts, artefactual evidence, visual imagery, skeletal data, and demographic studies.
Affiliation: University of Cologne, Germany
Session Abstract: Because of the large concentration of men in military camps, human waste removal must have formed a great challenge for the Roman Army from the earliest beginnings. And while the solutions to this problem may have been quite ‘portable’ and ad-hoc in those camps that were used only for a short period of time, permanent camps needed permanent solutions. In most cases where Roman military toilets have been excavated and published, these are of the multi-seater, stone-channel kind connected to the military bathhouse. However, there are indications in some legionary camps that not only the houses of the commander and the tribunes had their own ‘private’ cesspit toilet, but the centurion’s quarters as well. And it seems likely that portable toilet bowls were also in use. This session would therefore like to invite papers on toilets within military settlements that are not connected to a bathhouse. We would like to see the evidence of both channel and cesspit toilets as well as portable toilet bowls addressed in an analytical manner, answering as many as possible of the following questions
- where are the toilets situated?
- can we determine a ‘private’ toilet for higher ranks?
- if we have stone channel toilets not connected to bathhouses, where did the water come from?
- are there enough toilets for all people?
- and if not, do we have finds of toilet bowls and in which amounts?
- could the toilets have been used as a ‘secondary means’ (person uses toilet bowl, which then is emptied into toilet) in order to ensure privacy of, for instance, higher ranks or the women in the military settlements.
- finds found inside the toilet are of lesser interest and should only be presented to help determine the last phase of use.
Markus Scholz & Daniel Burger-Völlmecke
Affiliation: Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Germany
Affiliation of co-organiser: Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Germany
Session Abstract: The development of raw material sources, especially mineral resources, was one of the main motives of Roman expansion plans. This is exemplary by the conquests of Britainnia (tin) and Dacia (gold). Rome had a special requirement of raw materials, especially shortly before or during the establishment of a province. Especially at those times it was necessary to guarantee the supply of the extensive military juggernaut and to establish the infrastructure and, of course, to stabilise the state finances.
Isotope analyses on lead finds from the early military sites of the Augustan occupation in Germania revealed, the Eifel and Sauerland as regions of origin for example. For this reason, prospecting must already have been carried out in advance of military operations. Further examples are known from the Iberian Peninsula (e.g. Las Medulas ESP, Três Minas PRT), from Britain, from the Balkan region, from eastern Egypt or the foreland of the Germanic provinces, e.g. along the river Lahn (D).
This session looks at the development of Roman provinces from the perspective of exploitable resources and Roman mining. Archaeological, (in)written and scientific sources will be used for this purpose. What role did the military play in the exploitation of the deposits? Were the mining areas militarily secured? In addition, the question must be asked to what extent and under what circumstances Roman troops and state institutions became directly active. When or under what circumstances was the actual mining of raw resources carried out directly by Roman soldiers or organised through contractual partners of the indigenous population? Are there examples where the military was initially active and later took over indigenous contractual partners, in the sense of “start-up production”? Can increased mining activity also be seen in times of strained state finances?
Ursula Rothe, Anique Hamelink & Dorothee Olthof
Afilliation: Open University, United Kingdom
Afilliation co-organiser: University of Amsterdam the Netherlands
Afilliation second co-organiser: PRAE (Prheistoric Re-enactment, Archaeology and Education), the Netherlands
Session Abstract: This session explores the way people living in Roman frontier communities dressed, adorned and cared for their bodies. The theme encompasses various technologies of the body, consisting of objects, practices and products used in the care and presentation of the body. The session aims to discuss how social identities may have been created, maintained or adapted using these means, in the context of the unique nature of frontier societies, where military and civilian, local and newcomer communities coexisted. How did developments in this cultural sphere reflect the changing social and cultural make-up and orientation of frontier societies?
This session aims to address interaction between pre-existing dress, bodily care and adornment practices in the frontier regions and those introduced under Roman rule, as well as such interaction between military and civilian elements. What kinds of practices characterised the different communities, and how, and by whom, were new practices adopted and pre-existing practices transformed, replaced or retained? One of the themes of the session will be to explore the concept of ‘anchoring innovation’: the idea that the success of new ideas and inventions that affect social life depends on their potential to be somehow embedded (‘anchored’) in pre-existing norms and practices of that society (https://www.ru.nl/oikos/anchoring-innovation/).
The session welcomes contributions on a wide range of topics such as:
- dress and dress accessories
- hair removal and hairdressing
- bodily modifications such as tattooing or piercing
- toilet instruments
We welcome papers that go above and beyond mere typologies of objects to explore what bodily practices meant to the make-up and dynamic of frontier communities. The theme encompasses socio-cultural as well as technical innovations and the interplay between them.
Affiliation: University of Kent/English Heritage, United Kingdom
Session Abstract: In the Roman world dress was an important to demonstrate identity. In 2000 Ellen Swift published her PhD thesis on Regionality in the Roman West which investigated different objects of dress from the late 3rd-5th century AD. Since then there have been many studies on these objects, such as crossbow brooches (Collins@), belt fittings (Leahy 2007, Carr 2018, Smither forthcoming), bracelets (Swift 2003), beads (Swift 2003). Our understanding of these objects has improved in the last 20 years and through new archaeological investigations and the use of metal detector finds from Britain and now The Netherlands we can begin to build on our interpretation of these objects with much more data. There is still more to understand about the spread of dress objects and styles along the limes as well as in the hinterland on either side. Were some styles specific to military personnel and/or were these styles ubiquitous? Furthermore, what features, and styles were brought in by those recruited from outside the Empire borders and how did these spread? In terms of objects types, many have been studied in-depth, however several studies need updating; for example, belt fittings. Regionality is important to this, and while many dress objects might look similar, subtle differences in form and decoration could point to local styles and workshops. Finally, there is a need to think beyond the male sphere on the limes and thing about women’s dress. Swift (2000) looked at regional patterns of bracelets and beads but more detailed provincial and site studies might indicate how similar or different are the patterns of male and female dress which could suggest the movement of people or adoption of non-local styles. This session invites papers from all parts of the Empire focusing on dress in the late 3rd-5th centuries AD.
Saskia Stevens, Richard Hingley & Chiara Bonacchi
Affiliation: Utrecht University, the Netherlands
Affiliation of co-organiser: University of Durham, United Kingdom
Affiliation of 2nd co-organiser: University of Stirling, United Kingdom
Session Abstract: This session focuses on the ways the borders of the Roman empire have been brought back to life and appropriated as meaningful cultural heritage in the various limes countries, since the rediscovery of Roman “civilization” in the sixteenth century. Taking the recent “critical turn” in heritage studies (Laurajane Smith, Use of Heritage, 2006) as a starting point, the session will reconsider the meaning and value of Roman heritage. The limes is constructed as a living past by the actions and interests of people, rather than on the basis of any intrinsic archaeological and historic value. Limes sites have not only been used as archaeological monuments, but also played significant roles in the construction of broader meta-narratives regarding the historical development of nations, regions and borders. For example, in the Netherlands the “Batavian myth” was invoked to legitimize the Dutch revolt, informed Patriots during the Enlightenment, and fed into constructions of Dutch exceptionalism. In the UK, Hadrian’s Wall has been used as an allegory for potential British disunity during the recent debates about Scottish independence. In addition, the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site has been used to communicate ideas about European and transnational identity (Richard Hingley 2018).
We invite speakers from the various limes countries to participate in this session. By exploring examples from different countries, a transnational insight can be gained of how Roman frontier sites influenced our modern perceptions of boundaries, from the deep past to the present.
Affiliation: Historic England, United Kingdom
Session Abstract: Hadrian’s Wall and the Great Wall of China are the subject of a partnership developed between Historic England and the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage (CACH) under the title ‘Wall to Wall’. This is designed to share information and explore possibilities in the research, conservation and interpretation of the two World Heritage Sites. Two high level seminars have now taken place, the first in 2018 in Newcastle, and the second in Jinshanling, China in 2019. Among those attending these seminars have been Limes Congress regulars, notably David Breeze and Rob Collins. The proceedings of the first seminar have been published, papers for the second are currently being assembled for publication.
Dominic Moreau & Ivan Gargano
Affiliation: University of Lille, France
Affiliation of co-organiser: University of Lille, France
Session Abstract: In the absence of ancient texts describing the details of the process of Christianisation in the frontier regions of the Roman Empire, it is often very difficult to understand some of the archaeological finds in that matter. Among them, we can mention the Christian basilicas and other churches built in direct links with medium to small military outposts. This session will analyse, both in archaeological and historical points of view, the Christian buildings of worship found near or inside the documented forts located on the edges of the Empire. The focus will thus be on peripheral military site.
The goal is to document the topographical evolution of the spiritual life of the Roman garrisons between the fourth and the seventh century, by trying to identify the characteristics of what can call a “border Christianity”, together with the changes of the military space possibly caused by its development. The study of religious architecture in these sites is, without a doubt, the most concrete means of achieving these objectives, because data such as a more-or-less marked monumentality, the position with regard to the fort, the chronology of construction or the type of materials used can offer many factors for a deep reflection on the issue, as well as helping to understand the extent and identity of border communities linked to the military context.
Arjan Ruiter & Lourens van der Feijst
Affiliation: ADC ArcheoProjecten, the Netherlands
Affiliation of co-organiser: ADC ArcheoProjecten, the Netherlands
Session Abstract: A small number of large and well published sites have dominated our idea of what a typical Roman burial is within specific regions. Recent research however, has increasingly shown variation in burial practices and the cemeteries itself. For example, excavations in the Netherlands have made apparent differences in burial practices between, relatively small, stretches of the limes zone. In particular cases this may be visible on the civitas or tribal level. The session aims to promote a comparison on the supra-regional level along the frontier of the empire. This is necessary in order to establish the uniqueness of, or similarities between, certain practices and burial goods. In addition it is to be expected that the significant influx of soldiers and people from the Mediterranean into the limes zone had an impact on the aforementioned aspects.
Regional variation is, not exclusively, expressed through; treatment of the deceased body, material culture in the form of burial goods, the organisation and layout of cemeteries in both rural and urban environments and the visibility through above ground structures, such as tumuli, tombstones, steles and funerary gardens. It raises a number of questions, i.e.: Which regional variations have come to light in other countries along the limes? Do such differences derive from context, i.e. rural, urban or military, or rather from the availability of goods and raw materials? Which aspects of burial practices along the border are anchored in pre Roman burial traditions and developed regionally and which are influenced by outside, Mediterranean, ideas about the afterlife?
The session welcomes contributions on the following subjects: Roman and local believes in the afterlife, burial rites, material culture in the form of burial goods, types cremation burials and tomb forms, funerary monuments, funerary gardens, military cemeteries and civilian cemeteries
Vince Van Thienen & Sofie Vanhoutte
Affiliation: Ghent University, Belgium
Affiliation of co-organiser: Flanders Heritage Agency / Ghent University, Belgium
Session Abstract: Fifty years after the publication of the late Roman graveyard at the Oudenburg fort by Mertens & Van Impe (1971), and nearly as long since the influential publication by Böhme (1974) on Germanic grave goods in the Late Roman period, it is time to reassess our ideas of late Roman burial customs, grave goods and their chronology (period c. AD 250-450).
During the past half century, our understanding of the Late Roman period has developed significantly, mainly because of the increasing archaeological evidence of its military population. Nevertheless, many of the chronologies for grave goods published in the 1970s are still used as standard references to date late Roman artefacts and their contexts. However, many of these typo-chronologies and interpretations have become outdated, often tied up in biases based on circular reasoning related to traditional notions of the Germanic immigration.
Since the 1970s and ’80s burial archaeology has gradually become less prominent, allowing outdated knowledge to persist into the present-day identification and dating of late Roman military burials (cf. cremation versus inhumation; the uncritical use of numismatic evidence; the correlation between weapons as grave goods and Germanic people). Fortunately, recent studies and techniques can bring new data to the table and allow us to take a fresh look on the identity of late Roman soldiers at the frontiers (e.g. isotopes and DNA) that can be paired with a reinvestigation of the material culture and burial customs.
Given that the most prominent late Roman burials are military graveyards and that they serve as a basis for much of the material chronologies (e.g. Krefeld-Gellep), a re-evaluation of them would not only adjust our understanding of the late Roman military communities at the frontiers, but would also have implications for the dating and interpreting of many late Roman (military) sites across the Empire.
Hannes Flück & Orsolya Láng
Affiliation: Universität Basel, Switzerland
Affiliation of co-organiser: BHM Aquincum Museum, Hungary
Session Abstract: The smallfinds session at the Limes in Viminacium in 2018 showed clearly the potential of the work with small finds beyond chronology. It seems possible for example to discern settlement with a military context from a purely civil settlement, not only by militaria but also by other smallfinds groups. Other sessions demonstrated successfully, that at least partially, the question of the presence of women in Forts can be addressed by looking at smallfinds. With this session we aim to go a step further. We still want to look at finds groups made of metal, glass, stone, worked bone or terracotta. But we wonder if more is possible, as e.g. the differentiation within a settlement. How are certain smallfinds distributed within a settlement, and what might be the reason for this, beyond the obvious possibility of chronological differences? Can topographical differences of the distribution of small finds within a settlement be explained by social differences, or are there other reasons? How can certain group of smallfinds speak for the function of buildings and rooms? And what are the reasons for differences of the distribution of small finds between different settlements? Are they caused by different networks of distribution, preferences of the population or other reasons? We also look for papers that aim at source critic and discuss the limits of this approach. Papers either based on more traditional analyses of smallfinds or material analyses shedding light on the above-mentioned problems are both welcome.
Jonathan Quiery & Matthew Previto
Affiliation: Durham University, United Kingdom
Affiliation of co-organiser: Stanford University, United States of America
Session Abstract: The development of the Roman Limes Moesiae/Scythiae between the first and seventh centuries CE wrought profound alterations to the landscape of the lower Danube. The construction of urban and rural settlements, military installations, infrastructure, and other monumental architecture transformed the experience of place by ancient peoples. Moreover, politico-military, religious, and social frameworks engaged with both the geographic and human-made features of this frontier during the seven centuries of Romano-Byzantine occupation and were ultimately remade in turn. As a result, the Moesian/Scythian limes was a dynamic region throughout antiquity as numerous peoples and religions converged here. The recent historical and archaeological research undertaken in the region has demonstrated the vibrant nature of this frontier, as other scholars have revealed elsewhere along borders such as Hadrian’s Wall and the Limes Germanicus.
The proposed session calls for papers to examine a broad range of topics that consider the place-making effects and experience along the Limes Moesiae/Scythiae and seeks to create a proactive discussion among frontier specialists from varied academic backgrounds. The session welcomes new insights and perspectives from both methodological approaches and theoretical paradigms that provide a keener insight into the lives of ancient peoples on the lower Danube frontier.
- How did the Limes Moesiae/Scythiae become embedded within the pre-existing Iron Age social structures and infrastructures? How were the pre-Roman systems altered as a result?
- How did the shifting politico-military nature in Late Antiquity affect the lives of ancient peoples along the Limes Moesiae/Scythiae?
- How did religious changes impact the experience of place along the Limes Moesiae/Scythiae between the first and seventh centuries CE (pre-Roman–Roman, pagan-Christian)?
Julia Chorus & Monica Dütting
Affiliation: Research group Roman vicus on the Rhine, the Netherlands
Affiliation of co-organiser: Research group Roman vicus on the Rhine, the Netherlands
Session Abstract: This session focuses on the rise, function, development and population of military vici in relation to the forts in the Roman Empire. Generally, the Roman frontier zone is envisaged rather stereotypically, with military structures such as fortresses with their canabae, forts and watchtowers plus military vici in the vicinity of the forts. However, in many regions our knowledge of military vici, their structures, finds, dates and developments through time, is quite fragmented.
In this session we would like to look in detail into the following questions:
- Rise and development. What do we know about the foundation and construction of military vici? When, how and by whom were these settlements built? Were the forts and vici built (almost) simultaneously? Are the developments we can observe in both fort and vicus the same? What is known about the legislation and administration of military vici? And who was responsible for them?
- What was the function of the military vicus? Did it play part in the army’s supply system? Which facilities were present and what developments can be observed? In how far do these settlements differ from or align with the forts? Are changes in military occupation of forts reflected in the vici? If the fort and its vicus were not (entirely) contemporaneous: what does this imply for the function and role of the vicus? What was the role of the vicus in relation to rural settlements?
- Who were the builders and residents of the vicus: soldiers or civilians, or both? What clues can archaeological finds give us on the gender, identity and ethnicity of the residents? Can we recognize interactions between the inhabitants of the fort and the vicus (and the vicus and the rural settlements) from the finds? Can changes be observed through time?
Anna-Katharina Rieger & Mark Driessen
Affiliation: University of Graz, Austria
Affiliation of co-organiser: Leiden University, the Netherlands
Session Abstract: The session aims to have a fresh look at the relation of the resource water and the limites in arid areas of the Roman Empire. It engages with conceptions and regional appearances of Roman borders in dry zones and takes issues such as resource availability and control, strategic considerations, local socio-economic conditions as well as interaction with local communities into account.
The arid regions of Africa, Cyrenaica, Aegyptus, Arabia and Syria became provinces of the Roman Empire under different historical circumstances bringing Rome into contact with differently living local people; they bordered to different kinds of socio-political entities in the South and East and were part of the distant fringes of the oikoumene. Hence, the borders took various shapes in North Africa, Egypt, or along the fringes of the Arabian Desert. Whether along roads with chains of military bases and structures, spotty in the desertic regions, or interconnecting existing landmarks, the organization of these frontiers of the Roman Empire adapted to the local ecological, topographical as well as the socio-economic conditions.
In order to understand the interdependencies of water, demarcation and local conditions in the arid environments of the Roman Empire, the contributions to this session focus on specific ecological and economic conditions of dry areas as frontier zones, such as scarceness of the resource water and the control over it, mobile life strategies, low population and settlement density, which entail methodologically little and spatially spread evidence for past periods. The specific strategic and historical backgrounds in the local environments are considered as well. To this end archaeologists, philologists, ancient historians and scholars from other disciplines like for instance hydrologists are invited to address the following questions:
– implications of arid environments for the organisation of the frontier and pertaining structures and institutions
– interactions with locally employed forms of connectivity (controlling, communicating, moving) and of the perception of water(s)
– handling of the resource water (detection, collection and control, use and distribution)
– impacts of Roman presence on resource availability and socio-spatial organisation of arid environments
– influence of local communities and their life-strategies on the Roman strategies of border control (population densities, settlements and economic potentials)
– reflections on these issues in literary, epigraphic, or administrative texts
The contributors to this session embrace a wide range of regions of the Roman Empire and come from different disciplinary backgrounds in order to complementarily analyse the factor water for the organisation of the arid fringes of the Roman Empire.
Eckhard Deschler-Erb & Clarissa Agricola
Affiliation: Universität zu Köln, Germany
Affiliation of co-organiser: Universität zu Köln, Germany
Session Abstract: The Roman army was not only an effective military machine, it was also a highly important economic force. Especially in newly conquered regions, the sapper units of the legions established new infrastructure or made improvements to the existing one (roads, bridges, buildings, and even entire settlements). The raw materials and products required were mined or produced by the army itself. Brickyards, set up and operated by military units on a large scale, formed an important branch of production in this context.
Brick stamps and the remains of the brick yards themselves provide essential information with regard to the structure and organisation of the military production of architectural ceramics. Thanks to these studies we are able to understand and analyse an important aspect of the imperial economy in the Roman provinces.
During the proposed session, brickworks of the Roman army from western and eastern provinces of the Imperium Romanum will be presented and discussed. Especially in recent times, more and more attention has been paid to these workshops. We hope that some of the current research on the topic will be presented in the session. The following topics will be important/relevant:
– Topographical position (of the workshops) and relations to nearby settlements
– Infrastructure (working areas, kilns etc.)
– Production range (form and type of bricks, production of other goods like pottery)
– Questions of chronology
– Distribution (trade routes, organisation of trade, civilian or military consumers)
– Operators (legionary or auxiliary)
Thomas Schierl & Fraser Hunter
Affiliation: Mühlhausen Museums, Germany
Affiliation of co-organiser: National Museum of Scotland, United Kingdom
Session Abstract: Finds of Roman objects outside the ancient Roman Empire attracted human attention even before the dawn of archaeological science, and their study has been an important research area even since. Initially, readily-identifiable Roman goods were understood as material evidence of events known from written sources, whereas today we reconstruct numerous – sometimes different, sometimes connected – mechanisms which caused often very heterogeneous distribution patterns of such objects. The causes and contexts of transmission of these items are still extensively discussed, and need to be researched in relation to place, time and context rather than assuming common processes.
On the 70th anniversary of Hans Jürgen Eggers’s pioneering book Der römische Import im freien Germanien, our session seeks to explore the mechanisms by which Roman objects and ideas moved beyond the frontier. How far was trade a factor, and how was it organised? How can we tell this from other potential processes, such as diplomatic efforts, payment of subsidies, loot, or personal gain from military service? Can we recognise different mechanisms in different times and places, or for different materials? Some regions show indications that Roman objects were valued as raw materials, suggesting an important role of foreign objects as economic resources. Beside the finds themselves, how (and how often) is it possible to confirm the transfer of ideas or techniques? And how did distance affect matters? How did relations across the frontier to the neighbouring zones differ from those with more distant areas?
For the session, papers are welcome which seek to explore the means by which Roman goods and concepts moved beyond the frontier, the ways this changed in time and space, and the implications it had.
Bill Griffiths & Lee Grana
Affiliation: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, United Kingdom
Affiliation of co-organiser: University of Reading, United Kingdom
Session Abstract: Recent years have seen an explosion in the growth of experimental archaeology as an area of academic research in its own right. Traditionally seen regarded as a tool for understanding pre-historic societies, it is increasingly an element within Roman studies. Aspects include the manufacture and testing of replica artefacts, computational considerations of logistics and supply, the reconstruction of buildings, and of course the growth of historic re-enactment, where practitioners bring their lived experience to bear in understandings of the past.
This session will explore different aspects of experimental archaeology and its potential to shine a new light on elements of the study of the Roman army and its frontiers, bringing as it does different approaches, methodologies and indeed researchers to the field. Papers are invited from speakers that wish to explore how frontiers may have functioned, both in terms of the structures that identify them, and the people who occupied them.
This would be a session with papers plus a discussion which will explore the place of experimental studies within the Limes congress, and indeed Roman studies in general. It will build from a dedicated session at TRAC in Edinburgh in 2018, which itself is the foundation for the forthcoming ‘Handbook of Roman Experimental Archaeology’ (the co-organisers of this session are part of the editorial team for this volume).
It is envisaged that the range of papers for this session may include subjects such as:
- Insights into the lived experience of the populations of the frontiers
- Virtual models of economic/trade systems
- Consideration of weapon function set alongside frontier form
- Riverine capability of Roman fleets on the frontiers rivers
- Practical considerations in the construction of frontiers and fortifications
Michael Alexander Speidel, Radosław Karasiewicz-Szczypiorski, Emzar Kakhidze & Piotr Jaworski
Affiliation: University of Zürich / University of Warsaw, Switserland / Poland
Affiliation of co-organiser: University of Warsaw, Poland
Affiliation of second co-organiser: Batumi Shota Rustaveli State Universit, Georgia
Affiliation of third co-organiser: University of Warsaw, Poland
Session Abstract: Recent archaeological, numismatic, epigraphic and historical investigations into the history of the Roman and early Byzantine forts on the Colchian coast of the Eastern Black Sea as well as on various forms of Roman influence in the countries of the South Caucasus has shed new light on this oft-neglected part of the Roman Empire’s frontier. The session aims to make known and discuss the results of these recent studies and thereby to contribute to an improved understanding of Rome’s engagement in this part of the ancient world.
Affiliation: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Session Abstract: The increasing availability of large digital data sets requires archaeologists and historians to develop or adopt new analytical tools in order to detect and understand socio-economic and cultural patterns and to compare these at wider spatial and temporal scales. Simulation and other types of computational modelling are rapidly becoming a key instruments for this type of research. They are used to bridge the gap between theoretical concepts and archaeological evidence. These models can be of an exploratory nature, or attempt to closely emulate historical dynamics, and enable us to understand the mechanisms underlying, for example, e.g. population changes or economic systems.
Despite having access to large amounts of high-quality data, Roman studies have so far been relatively slow in adopting computational modelling, and Limes studies are no exception. The Limes is a particular case since each border region has its own characteristics, environmental setting, cultural background and specific relationship with the ‘core’ but also shares common features derived from being at the ‘outskirts’ of political, economic and cultural life. The interaction between these two dimensions is highly complex. Thus, the Limes constitutes an arena where formal modelling methods have particularly high potential. However, key challenges to this approach are i) the proper integration of archaeological and historical data sets; ii) a good understanding of what proxies to use, and iii) the computational power needed for modelling at larger scales.
We invite papers that showcase examples of modelling within the broader thematic setting of the Limes, taking these challenges into account. Suggested topics of interest are the economy of the Limes, urbanisation and settlement dynamics, demography, military campaigns, and relationships between the Limes, the rest of the Roman Empire and the zones beyond the frontier. Statistical modelling, GIS, simulation (e.g., Agent-based modelling), network models and other types of formal approaches are all welcome. Comparative studies are especially welcomed.
Marinus Polak, René Ployer & Stéphanie Guédon
Affiliation: Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands
Affiliation of co-organiser: Bundesdenkmalamt Österreich, Austria
Affiliation of second co-organiser: Université de Limoges
Session Abstract: Since the early 2000s it has been the ambition to create a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing all the frontiers of the Roman Empire, across three continents. If the World Heritage Committee accepts the recent nominations of the western part of the Danube Limes (2018) and of the Lower German Limes (2020), all of the European frontier sections from the Antonine Wall in Scotland to the Hungarian/Croatian border will be part of the World Heritage List by the time the 2021 Limes congress will take place. The nominations of the eastern part of the Danube Limes and the Dacian Limes are expected soon to follow.
It is evident that the frontiers of North Africa and the Middle East have much to contribute to a shared world heritage monument, by their very different landscape setting and their many impressive aboveground remains. It is the aim of the proposed session to strenghten the bonds between archaeologists and heritage experts from the three continents, to obtain a better view of the remains of the frontiers outside Europe and to explore their potential to meet the requirements of World Heritage. Another focus should be the consideration of the possibilities for a common management system for the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.
The session will be open to comparative analyses of frontier sections, to overviews of remains of frontiers outside Europe and their history, of distinctive characteristics of these sections and to preservation and management. Colleagues from North Africa and the Middle East are emphatically encouraged to participate. The session is not intended for papers discussing individual sites.
Session abstract: For those who cannot find a place in any of the previous sessions. This session offers space for interesting and limes-related lectures.