A Social Archaeology of Roman and Late Antique Egypt: Artefacts of Everyday Life

ISBN : 9780198867340

Ellen Swift; Jo Stoner; April Pudsey
480 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Nov 2021
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Artefact evidence has the unique power to illuminate many aspects of life that are rarely explored in written sources, yet this potential has been underexploited in research on Roman and Late Antique Egypt. This book presents the first in-depth study that uses everyday artefacts as its principal source of evidence to transform our understanding of the society and culture of Egypt during these periods. It represents a fundamental reference work for scholars, with much new and essential information on a wide range of artefacts, many of which are found not only in Egypt but also in the wider Roman and late antique world. By taking a social archaeology approach, it sets out a new interpretation of daily life and aspects of social relations in Roman and Late Antique Egypt, contributing substantial insights into everyday practices and their social meanings in the past. Artefacts from University College London's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology are the principal source of evidence; most of these objects have not been the subject of any previous research. The book integrates the close study of artefact features with other sources of evidence, including papyri and visual material. Part one explores the social functions of dress objects, while part two explores the domestic realm and everyday experience. An important theme is the life course, and how both dress-related artefacts and ordinary functional objects construct age and gender-related status and facilitate appropriate social relations and activities. There is also a particular focus on wider social experience in the domestic context, as well as broader consideration of economic and social changes across the period.


1 Introduction
Part One: Exploring the Social Functions of Dress Objects
2 Introduction to Part One
3 Original String and Bead Assemblages
4 Bracelets and Torcs
5 Shoes and Sandals
6 Concluding Discussion to Part One
Part Two: The Domestic Realm and Everyday Experience
7 Introduction to Part Two
8 Production and Experience: Objects Related to Textile Production
9 Children's Material Culture
10 Sound-making Objects
11 Concluding Discussion to Part Two
12 Egypt in the Roman and Late Antique World: An Artefacts Perspective
Appendix 1: Phased Bead Assemblages from Qau
Appendix 2: Assemblages of Beads with Evidence of Original Association
Appendix 3: Data Set of Artefacts Including Ancient String
Appendix 4: Data Set of Bracelets and Torcs
Appendix 5: Data Set of Shoes
Appendix 6: Data Set of Spindle Whorls
Appendix 7: Sound Measurement and Studio Recording of Artefact Replicas

About the author: 

Ellen Swift is Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Kent. She studied at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London for her BA, MA, and PhD. Grant-funded research undertaken by Ellen as Principal Investigator includes a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2013 and AHRC project 'Roman and Late Antique Artefacts from Egypt' in 2017-19. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. She has wide research interests in artefact studies, the late to post-Roman transition in the West, and Roman and late antique art, and has worked on artefacts from both the north-western provinces of the Roman empire and from Roman and late antique Egypt.; Jo Stoner is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent. She studied Art History at undergraduate and Masters level at the University of Sussex, before completing a PhD in Classics and Archaeology at the University of Kent. She published her doctoral research on the lives of personal possessions in Late Antiquity as a monograph in 2019 and she recently completed a post-doc on the AHRC-funded 'Roman and Late Antique Artefacts from Egypt' project. Jo's research interests include the values of Roman and late antique artefacts, organic artefacts, personal meaning, and craft processes.; April Pudsey is Head of History and Archaeology of Childhood at the interdisciplinary Manchester Centre for Youth Studies. She studied at the University of Manchester for her BA, MA and PhD, and has held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, in addition to a number of research and teaching posts since 2007. She works closely with documentary papyri from Graeco-Roman Egypt, and has published around ancient demography, children, and family in the Roman world.

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