A Distant Diaspora: Comparative Perspectives on the Archaeology of Roman Slavery.

Author(s): Jane Webster

Year: 2013


More than 100 million people were enslaved in the millennium during which the Roman Empire rose and was eclipsed, yet the lives of Roman slaves are still generally assumed to be archaeologically inaccessible. Classical archaeologists view slavery almost entirely through the lens of the Roman literary tradition, and through the work of ancient historians who have drawn on that tradition. This paper will suggest that whilst the material strategies of Roman slaves might be hard to isolate, they are not ‘invisible’. In North America and the Caribbean, archaeologists have developed sophisticated methodologies for identifying and interpreting artifacts made and used by the enslaved. Through a brief case study exploring ephemeral forms of inscription (verbal and visual graffiti),  I will argue that work on ethnogenesis amongst slaves in the Americas might help Classical archaeologists to develop new approaches to the material world of slaves in the Roman world.


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A Distant Diaspora: Comparative Perspectives on the Archaeology of Roman Slavery.. Jane Webster. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428351)

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Geographic Keywords
United Kingdom Western Europe

Spatial Coverage

min long: -8.158; min lat: 49.955 ; max long: 1.749; max lat: 60.722 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 179