23. Small finds everywhere

23. Small finds everywhere

Hannes Flück & Orsolya Láng

Affiliation: University of 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.

Time Presenter (s) Presentation
 

LUNCH BREAK

13.30 Introduction
13.50 Douglas Carr The Northern Frontier of Britannia and its Coinage
14.10 Rahel Otte The Roman army on the Rhine and the monetization of the rural hinterland
14.30 Edwin Wood No title
 

COFFEE BREAK

15.20 Stefanie Hoss New insights into the distribution of Roman metal finds with PAN
15.40 Esperanza Martin – Hernandez The Cantabrian Wars: Roman equipment recovered in La Carisa
16.10 Boris Alexander Burandt Are you not entertained? – Different perceptions of gladiator fights at the frontiers of the Roman Empire as reflected in small finds
16.30 Hannes Flück The Capulets vs. The Montagues? – exploring differences within a settlement through their spectrum of brooches
16.50 Orsolya Lang Moving on: what material analyses of the Aquincum millstones can tell us about function and the local economy?
17.10 Adjournment

The Northern Frontier of Britannia and its Coinage
Douglas Carr, Newcastle University

This paper presents the results of my PhD research which examines the numismatic evidence from the northern frontier of Roman Britain. This analysis is the result of the creation of a database containing detailed records for the c.38,000 Roman coins found in northern England and southern Scotland. Previously studies of the coinage from Roman Britain’s northern frontier have been on a far smaller scale than that undertaken here. These previous studies have instead largely been restricted to discussions of coins from the military communities based along Hadrian’s Wall itself rather than seeking to encompass a broader frontier zone. The study area of this research has included the Wall itself but also its wider setting by covering southern Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders) and northern England (Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham). This broad geographic area has allowed the examination of the usage of coinage not just amongst the military communities along the Wall but differences in usage between the military and non-military communities inhabiting the frontier and between those living beyond and behind the Wall.

The Roman army on the Rhine and the monetization of the rural hinterland
Rahel Otte, PhD student, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt a. M.

A legionary under Augustus received a stipendium of 225 denarii annually, allowing us to calculate how much Roman money was delivered to the forts on the Rhine frontier in the early 1st century. But what happened to the coins after they were paid out to the soldiers? How and especially how fast did they find their way to the rural hinterland? The presentation is based on recently collected but not yet published data on coin finds from the hinterland of the German part of the Lower Rhine limes, more precisely from the villa landscape in the loess area. The monetization of this area has not been studied yet, as numismatic research in the German Rhineland mainly focused upon the forts and urban centres on the Rhine. The dataset is unique in its composition, since it comprises coin finds that were reported to the German state service for archaeology by amateur metal detectorists, finds from excavations and local museum collections. The main focus of the presentation is upon the distribution and analysis of Celtic and early Roman coins. Of special interest are the series with a strong connection to the military like the bronze coins from Nemausus, the Avavcia series or countermarked pieces. The talk addresses questions concerning the spread of coin use and asks what effects the legions had on the rural population in the hinterland. Was the monetization of the countryside caused by and connected to the required surplus production of food and the collected taxes? And if so, when did the monetization take place? Did the rural population in the loess area make use of coins in a market context before the arrival of the Roman army? Or was the Roman army a catalyst for the monetization and the development of a market economy in the loess area?

Edwin Wood, King’s College London

This paper will examine aspects of my PhD research into Roman military associated small finds that have been found on non-military sites in the South and South-East of England. The study draws on a substantial dataset of finds from controlled excavation as well as publicly recovered objects recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Totally c.4500 finds, this is a significant body of material that requires interpretation improve our understanding of provincial society. While the date range for my study is from the mid-1st to the 3rd centuries AD, I will principally focus on the 2nd and Early 3rd Century. Using a case study of horse harness fittings from the survey region I will explore whether any of these finds can be interpreted to directly indicate the presence of Roman military personnel. I will also briefly discuss some of the reasons why Roman troops or veterans might have been in the civil province in such large numbers during a period of comparative peace for the region. I will also ask questions of the traditional interpretation of the finds and whether they do truly represent military equipment or more general use, particularly of the horse, among the wider population of Roman Britain.

New insights into the distribution of Roman metal finds with PAN
Stefanie Hoss, University of Cologne

The Portable Antiquities of the Netherlands (PAN) project has been up and running for several years and has already generated a number of insights into metal finds in the Netherlands. Among them is a new distribution map of Roman military equipment showing high concentrations of finds in the Batavian region and in the Northeast (northern Friesland and Groningen). The former was already known through Johan Nicolay’s 2007 study ‘Armed Batavians’, which connected the high number of military finds in the Batavian region with the many Batavian veterans returning home and taking their military equipment with them. However, both the concentration of military equipment in the Northeast and the similarities of the distribution of military equipment and other metal finds (like brooches) seem to indicate that post-depositional factors must at least also have played a role. This paper intends to investigate these and other factors that may have contributed to the high concentration of Roman military equipment in these two regions in the Netherlands.

The Cantabrian Wars: Roman equipment recovered in La Carisa
Esperanza Martín-Hernández, Dolabra Arqueología, Jorge Camino-Mayor, Principado de Asturias

The war undertaken by Augustus to complete the conquest of northern Hispania (whose remains have been uncovered by archaeology investigations in recent years), had one of its main theatres of operations in La Carisa, one of the ranges of the Cantabrian Mountains that penetrates through the centre of the lands of the Astures. Three castra aestiva located at high altitudes along its route bear witness to its importance and were used in successive Roman war campaigns. These Roman camps are also linked to a strategic via which runs from the Duero valley to the sea, crossing the Cantabrian Mountains at an altitude of almost 2,000 m. It is significant that it maintains the name of Publius Carisius, the Roman legatus who, between 26-22 BC, commanded the army against the Astures, and which was also founder of the city of Augusta Emerita. The hundreds of objects recovered during the archaeological research of this area not only support the importance of the Roman military deployment, but also constitute an abundant and varied display of the equipment used by the troops on the field. This paper will describe selected pieces that have been identified, providing information on weaponry, tools, various items of equipment, costume components and an expressive monetary collection. At the same time, we’ll make a comparison with the finds made in other theatres of the war of conquest, both in the Astur and Cantabrian contexts, which make up a spectacular set, displaying the state of the Roman army during the Principality of Augustus, previously scarcely known.

Are you not entertained? – Different perceptions of gladiator fights at the frontiers of the Roman Empire as reflected in small finds
Boris Alexander Burandt, LVR-Amt für Bodendenkmalpflege im Rheinland – Aussenstelle Titz

Roman mass entertainment and especially gladiator fights are often seen as a motor of „Romanization” for the conquered areas and subjected peoples. The events in the arenas combined the desire of the masses for entertainment with the cult for the Roman emperor, and they also offered the local representatives of Rome the opportunity to stage themselves in a popular way. But if one looks merely at the architectural remains of the games, it becomes clear that amphitheatres along the frontiers of the Roman Empire are extremely rare. Hardly any of the garrison towns around the forts for cohorts or cavalry units has a proven arena, although amphitheatres appear almost regularly in the large colony towns and in the vicinity of legionary camps. In order to be able to classify the significance of this lack of arenas along the frontiers for the „Romanization“ and social structures of the frontier regions, it is necessary to look at the small finds, specifically at finds that could be modernly addressed as fan merchandise. Objects of this kind, which show the enthusiasm of the society for gladiator fights, animal chasing or chariot races in the form of oil lamps, drinking vessels, knife handles or statuettes, provide valuable information on how far the indigenous population on the periphery of the empire identified with Roman mass entertainment or just remained insensitive to such stimuli. Quality and materialism of the finds also gives eloquent testimony about the different social classes who were interested in the games in different ways at different times. Small finds from the finds group of fan merchandise thus provide valuable information on topics such as „Romanization“, acculturation, migration and social structure of the frontier regions, which will be presented in the paper with a focus on the north-western provinces.

The Capulets vs. The Montagues? – exploring differences within a settlement through their spectrum of brooches
Hannes Flück, University of Basel, Switzerland

As various researchers, including S. Jundi, J.D. Hill, T. Ivleva and U. Rothe, have shown in recent years, the wearing of Roman-period brooches is not just a question of fashion but also of other statements and ideas. Apart from restrictions due to the availability of certain types of brooches on the market, the decision of which brooches are bought and used is a conscious one. The analysis of fibulae can therefore allow us to draw conclusions on differences in relation to the inhabitants of a settlement. This is true for studies on both inter- and intra-settlement level. As my paper – “Bling for the Fling”, presented at the last Limes Congress in Viminacium – has shown, differences between individual settlements are detectable. Even if the spectra of the fibulae are dominated by the regional signature, it is nevertheless possible to identify specific brooch types, which in turn may be an indicator for military settlements. This paper examines the fibulae from two neighbourhoods of the legionary fortress of Vindonissa (Windisch, CH) and will ask if and to what extent differences in the fibulae spectra can be discerned within settlements. If this is the case, what could be the underlying reasons? In order to clarify any chronological differences between the two parts of the settlement, the coin curves of the two areas are also compared.

 Moving on: what material analyses of the Aquincum millstones can tell us about function and the local economy?
Orsolya Láng, BHM, Aquincum Museum, Andrew Wilson, University of Oxford

More than 230 complete or fragmentary hand querns and millstones have been found during the more than 130 years of research in the settlement complex of Aquincum (legionary fortress, Military and Civil Towns, villa estates) Preliminary results of their research (i.e. dating, find location, distinguishing between hand querns and water mills) was presented at the previous Limes Congress in Viminacium, while the the detailed material analyses was carried out on them in 2020. Fresh results of these petrographical analyes and the consequences that can be drawn from them concerning the provenance of the raw material and types will be presented this time, together with some topographical conclusions and also shedding light on the local supply of the civilian population and the army on the Roman frontier in Pannonia Inferior. The work is carried out in a cooperation between the University of Oxford and the BHM Aquincum Museum.