Pottery session at TRAC2023

Roman pottery is the theme of a session of the forthcoming Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC), which will be held in Exeter between the 27th and 29th April. The session, ‘Exploring Consumption Through Materiality in Roman Pottery and Other Small Finds’, will feature six papers investigating a diverse range of topics. A description of the session and list of papers is reproduced below. More details about the conference, including how to register, can be found on the TRAC website.

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.

  • Batavians in Dacia and identity expression: a pottery assessment from Razboieni. Cristina Crizbasan (University of Exeter)
  • Variety in vessels. Changing objectscapes in Early Roman Berenike (Egypt). Roderick C.A. Geerts (Leiden University)
  • Visualising the materiality of pottery en masse through principal component analysis of shape descriptors derived from typological images. Alasdair Gilmour (University of Exeter)
  • Objects, Affordances, and Consumption in Roman Palestine: A Case Study on the Usage of Ceramic Lamps in the Galilee During the First Two Centuries CE. Gregg E. Gardner (University of British Columbia)
  • Has the consumption of imported cooking pottery changed the cultural landscape of Nea Paphos, Cyprus? An attempt to explain the phenomena occurring between the 3rd and 7th centuries CE. Kamila Nocoń (University of Warsaw)
  • Feeling special: the sensoaesthetics of ivory accessories. Toni Clark (University of Exeter)

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