What can small finds do for you?
Weights as an indication for trade and commerce and as a means to determine whether the context is military or civilian.
Two large-scale excavations in Nijmegen, carried out in the last quarter of the 20st century, have yielded unusual high numbers of weights. Unusual high means here: well over 400 weights, a number that so far nowhere else has been recorded. Most of these weights are made from lead and date from the first century AD. In combination with the coinage also found, they present a clear pattern indicative of commercial zones, where mainly goods were traded that weighed less than one Roman pound (libra). Where in one case the pattern and context are what we would expect, in the other case it raises questions as to our understanding of the character of the settlement: is it military or civilian?
Bling for the fling – a fibulae assemblage from the canabae legionis of Vindonissa and its interpretation
The scientific value of fibula is four-dimensional: Chronology, gender, social status and regionality. Using a similar method to that of coin graphs, brooch assemblages from various settlements can be compared, with the focus on other aspects than chronology. Using an assemblage from a series of excavations in the canabae legionis of Vindonissa/Windisch CH as a point of departure, a corpus of over 7000 brooches from the Lower Rhine to the Danube was collected, with the aim of not only exploring discrepancies between the settlements but also setting a “norm” for each region. Significant differences between assemblages from civil settlements, canabae legionis/military vici and legionary camps were thus able to be shown; especially regarding the proportion of Aucissa fibula. However, it also appears that the military camps were not completely immune to the influences of the surrounding areas, as might be assumed. (Translation A. Lawrence)
Glass in the military settlements: between local production and luxury acquisitions
Compared to pottery and metalwork, glass (and the associated glass beads) occupies a middle position, still ubiquitous enough to allow for comparative analysis between settlements, but of a low enough volume to allow for settlement wide analysis. Consequently, given the numerous glass reports from the Britain and the European Roman provinces, we are now able to compare assemblages between different sites.
This paper analyses the evidence for local manufacture of vessel glass and glass beads from military vici/canabae and the general profile of glass use within these settlements, to understand if the glass of the military auxiliary vici and the canabae differs in its functional composition or whether the higher amount of luxury glass is solely a function of the larger size of the canabae.
Finds distribution analysis and the relationships between fort and annex at Flavian Elginhaugh, Scotland
The analysis of distribution of finds at the fort and annex at Elginhaugh, Scotland sheds light on the issues of production and consumption at this Early Imperial cavalry base. The analysis of finds highlights differences in the use of the annexe and the interior, shedding light on differentiated upkeep regimes, patterns of rubbish disposal and other spatial practices of a cavalry regiment in campaign. Artefactual signature within the defences provides insights into how finds assemblages can aid our understanding of food consumption practices through differences in the distribution of coarseware and red slip ware. The patterns of deposition of glass vessels and decorated versus undecorated red slip ware prompt considerations regarding the social stratification of a military community in campaign context, while the distribution of mortaria sheds light on issues of production, storage and management of movement within the cramped space of the fort and between the fort and the annexe.Owing to the site’s early date, the paper provides a rare insight into the activities and functioning of Flavian army adding a valuable example to the existing portfolio of finds analyses in the Rome’s Northern provinces and extending their reach both geographically and chronologically. An in depth analysis is facilitated by the pioneering at the time of the site’s excavation use of total station and high precision stratigraphic information allowing to tie in individual finds to distinct phases of usage. Drawing on this and the short chronology, with a limited cycle of reuse and redeposition, the paper touches on methodological considerations regarding both the limits and the potential use of destruction deposits to study uselife practices.The paper will add to the debate in the session through stimulating the following questions: How does the finds signature of a military unit in campaign compare to that of a permanent military community? What can a campaign site add to our knowledge of differentiated finds deposition processes between the intramural and extramural areas? Could some of the visible differences been associated with the different perception of the intramural versus extramural area by the military authorities and can these be discerned from the density and distribution of artefactual evidence?
Small finds and environmental evidence from the seating ban of the Chester amphitheatre
Excavations on the Roman amphitheatre from 2004-2006 recovered a large assemblage of small finds, bulk finds and environmental material within the built up, earthen, seating banks of the first of two amphitheatres. This building was constructed in the later Domitianic – Trajanic period, as attested by the clear dating evidence of the samian ware (terra sigillata) and coinage. The seating bank was composed of refuse derived from the legionary fortress and the canabae legionis. The character of the assemblage may suggest that the deposition of the seating bank coincides with the change of legionary garrison, with the departure of legio II Adiutrix and the arrival of legio XX Valeria Victrix in the late AD 80s, and may derive from a clearance operation at this time. The fortress at Chester was established c AD 71, so the finds material relates to activities which took place in the first couple of decades of the existence of the settlement. The small find assemblage will be compared to assemblages from other Flavian forts and fortresses in Britain in order to examine similarities.
Vicus on the Rhine: the mini-vici of the Lower Rhine between Utrecht and the sea
Stefanie Hoss, Julia Chorus, Julie Van Kerckhove and Carlijn van Maaren
The forts on the Lower Rhine have long been known to be a little strange: they sit exceptionally close to each other and close to the river Rhine. Also, many of them are just half a fort, with the retentura missing. In addition to that, the finds indicate that they may have been occupied only seasonally, probably during the season in which it was possible to use the high seas. Because the Rhine and Meuse delta were used as the main ‘harbours’ for sailing to and from Britain, the Rhine was the main transport highway that needed to be secured.
But not only the forts are strange, their vici are also somewhat curious. Our current information seems to indicate that they were exceptionally small, some just a very few houses – less than 20 in some cases. Could it be that this is another result of the seasonal occupation of the forts?
Most of the vici are only known from old excavations, which have never been analysed or adequately published. A group of Dutch researchers working together in the project “Vicus on the Rhine” wants to change this by analysing and publishing the old excavations and their finds in order to enable us to describe the foundation, development and function of these vici and find out more about the lives of the people of the vici and their interaction with the people from the fort and the surrounding region.
The paper will present the project and its first results.
First steps on a long journey: preliminary results of the research on millstones from the settlement complex of Aquincum
Orsolya Láng, Andrew Wilson
Excavations carried out in several parts of the settlement complex of Aquincum (legionary fortress, Military and Civil Towns, villa estates) have so far revealed more than 200 complete or fragmentary hand querns and millstones of different types. Most of them were discovered reused in secondary contexts, but some were found in their original position (i.e. courtyards of town houses or villas). The cataloguing of this group of finds has just been completed (although new ones keep coming in from ongoing excavations), and therefore detailed research on the types, material and economic significance has only just begun (in a cooperation between the University of Oxford and the BHM Aquincum Museum). This paper present the preliminary results of this work on the find location and dating of these stones, as well as distinguishing between hand querns and water mills. This paper explores the potential of this neglected group of Aquincum finds, and especially what it might suggest about the extent of the use of water-powered milling on the Roman frontier in Pannonia.