Building on the edge of the empire. A socio-cultural approach of rural stone domestic buildings on the northwestern edge of the Roman Empire

Start - End 
2022 - 2025 (ongoing)
Department(s) 
Department of Archaeology
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Research Period 
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Abstract

Stone domestic architecture is first encountered in north-western Gaul in the Roman period. The shift from indigenous houses in perishable materials to residences in stone is a major turning point in the history of the region and reveals how native inhabitants were engaging with the Roman cultural sphere. This project investigates an understudied corpus of rural stone dwellings in north-western Gaul, not as so often from an economic point of view, but from a socio-cultural angle. This will allow to understand 1) how local elites adopted and adapted Roman architectural ideas, and 2) how the north-western peripheral region was incorporated into the Empire, not through governance of a network of cities, but rather by relying on a network of locally embedded yet Roman-inspired rural house-hold hubs. This project thus addresses broader historiographical or theoretical issues, such as long-term cultural change, social networking, elite self-fashioning, identity politics and technological innovation. Besides the fact that there is an urgent need for an updated synthesis of rural stone domestic architecture in this part of the Empire, this research also aims to provide a more nuanced socio-cultural interpretative framework that can be used for other peripheral regions as well.

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