Searching life in death. A specific community in Roman Dacia – Alburnus Maior.
Catalina Mihaela Neagu, Mihaela Simion, Decebal Vleja, Ionuț Bocan
The archaeological researches from 2001-2007 at Alburnus Maior (Roşia Montană, jud. Alba), had as a result the investigation of the most consistent and unitary lot of cremation graves of the Dacia Province (over 1400). The analysis of the ritual elements and the funeral rite combined with the analysis of the epigraphic sources, but more importantly, with the processing of an enormous quantity of archaeological material, made it possible to record a specific funeral behavior, connected to the peculiarities of an entropic community, colonized here primarily for the exploitation and processing of gold deposits. The paradox of archaeology, according to which human behavior is understood especially through the understanding of death, is more visible here than anywhere else. This paper, therefore, proposes to introduce in the scientific circuit new conclusions from this exceptional site in the frontier province of Dacia, from the perspective of historical development.
In the service of Rome? – Mobility and ethnic interpretation of the shield bosses with a star-shaped flange and faceted / fluted bowls
Hardly any other ivory carving has been the subject of so many scientific studies over the centuries as the diptych of a young late Roman officer and his family, which is part of the cathedral treasury of Monza in northern Italy. Over the course of this long scientific discussion, the main focus of interest was to recognize well-known historical personalities in the depictions – especially in the male one. First and foremost, the alleged “habitus barbarus” of the trousers and a long-sleeved tunic, as well as the “un-Roman” armament, led to speculations regarding the origin and ethnicity of this man. In the course of former studies, especially the shield boss with its unique hybrid shape, a star-shaped fold and a fluted bowl, was interpreted as (East) Germanic or even – based on earlier distribution maps – as a “Vandalic” testimony. Due to this historical assignment and the supposedly absolute dating of the ivory diptych of Monza, the faceted shield bosses were even considered to be main finds from the Danube area. In contrast to former stalemated interpretations that aimed to identify historical personalities, this lecture will present a new interpretation approach based on a first-time-compilation of all known shield bosses with star-shaped folds and faceted/fluted bowls. This is supported by previously unidentified finds and image sources, which suggest that objects from this find category are of Roman provenance. As R. Warland and Ph. v. Rummels already clearly and credibly proved that the displayed allegedly “barbaric” clothing is rather the official style of a late Roman dignitary, the armament also loses the last component, which was considered genuinely “barbaric”.
What makes a barbarian? Studying barbarian material culture on Roman monuments
What role did material culture play in defining barbarian identities on triumphal monuments? Too often modern researchers make simplistic assumptions about the meaning of supposedly ethnically distinctive items such as torcs, draco standards or carnyces, to identify barbarians as Celts, Germans or Dacians. This paper will present results of a large-scale study which reveals changing interpretations of barbarian material culture over time, and stresses the need for a close contextual analysis to understand how barbarian groups were perceived and portrayed.