From Rome to Charleston: A Comparative Perspective on the Archaeology of Forced Migration

Author(s): Jane Webster

Year: 2018


My title is borrowed from a groundbreaking volume of papers published in 1997. Eltis and Richardson's Routes to Slavery: Direction, Ethnicity and Mortality in the Transatlantic Slave Trade marked the first flowering of a hugely ambitious project to synthesize archival data on known Transatlantic slave trading voyages from ca. 1500-1900. The resultant database is now widely used by archaeologists in both Africa and the Americas. But there were many other routes to slavery in different times and in other places: not least the many routes which brought millions of enslaved persons to ancient Rome and its provinces in the Classical era. Can archaeological work on forced migration, ethnicity and ethnogenesis in the early modern world really inform research centered on the Roman Republic and Empire? Yes it can, as this paper aims to show. Moreover, diachronic comparison - and the nuanced methodologies which underpin the archaeology of the Diaspora in the Americas - could provide the (far less developed) archaeology of Roman slavery with a new road map for the identification of the unfree, and recovery of their life experiences.

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From Rome to Charleston: A Comparative Perspective on the Archaeology of Forced Migration. Jane Webster. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445269)

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Abstract Id(s): 20854