African red slip ware in the western Mediterranean: an economic and demographic reappraisal

Hawthorne, John (1998) African red slip ware in the western Mediterranean: an economic and demographic reappraisal. University of Southampton, Faculty of Arts, School of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis , 287pp.


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This thesis argues that archaeologists have ignored fundamental aspects of ceramic
assemblage formation. The factors that are traditionally invoked to explain quantitative
variation in ceramics are such things as distance from source, breakage rates and trade
flows. These considerations are all perfectly valid. However, this thesis argues that it is
essential that we also consider the effects of changing eating habits. Using the example
of African Red Slip Ware (ARS), a particularly common late Roman fineware in the
Mediterranean, it is shown that changes in dining practices can have had dramatic
effects on the amount of pottery that would have been used at any given period in
time. A model is developed for the circulation of ARS which takes these culinary
changes into account. It is argued that the changes were related to the role of the
ancient meal as a means of negotiating ethnic identities. Specifically, it is suggested
that many of the observed changes can be related to the rise of early Christianity. This
model is then used to challenge long-accepted views of the Roman economy and late
Roman rural demography, both topics in which ARS plays an important role. It is
argued that the traditional view of the Roman economy, as having undergone
successive boombust cycles, is misguided. In large part this model is based on a
misunderstanding of the formation processes of ARS assemblages, and so a new model
is forwarded which allows for the effects of changing eating habits. Finally, ARS is
commonly used as a guide to the density and spread of late Roman rural occupation.
Traditional views cite massive depopulation in Late Antiquity. It is argued that, by re¬
examining the ARS sherds, it can be shown that this view is also misguided. This is
demonstrated through an analysis of the British School at Rome's South Etruria survey
ARS collection, and a critical reappraisal of the historical evidence.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Digitized via the E-THOS exercise
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > Archaeology
ePrint ID: 42327
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2006
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:27

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