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Roman Attitudes towards the natural world - a comparison of Wessex and Provence

Roberts, David (2014) Roman Attitudes towards the natural world - a comparison of Wessex and Provence. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Interactions with the natural world are a fundamental part of human life. The Roman Empire has had very significant effects on later European and world societies. This study examines interactions with landscape and nature during the Roman period in south-west Wiltshire and the landscape of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire. Reviewing a wide range of scholarship from Roman archaeology and beyond in Britain and France demonstrates the need for a holistic, diachronic and spatially integrated approach in studies of Roman landscapes. A new research framework is constructed based on phase space theory, archaeological landscape theory and previous work in Roman archaeology. Key structuring concepts in this analysis are a tripartite division between ‘wild’, ‘tame’ and ‘encountered’ nature, and a fourfold consideration of sociospatial dimensions: ‘territory’, ‘place’, ‘scale’ and ‘networks’. Extensive analysis of range of aspects of interaction with nature in the two case study areas is undertaken, demonstrating a complex array of interactions and relations embedded in landscape practices. GIS analyses are used throughout as supporting evidence, but the main analyses are focused on traditional archaeological techniques. Environmental, landscape, material, geoarchaeological, zooarchaeological and excavation datasets are used to build broad-ranging narratives of landscape interaction in the case study landscapes. The Sainte-Victoire landscape demonstrates a highly controlled landscape, dominated by the Roman state and elite groups via villas and a range of material landscape structures. Contrastingly, south-west Wiltshire displays patterns of landscape interaction and social power with their locus in the practices of pre-Roman communities, and selective engagement with structures of the Roman state and wider elite networks. This comparison sheds light on wider debates regarding Roman society, landscape use and social change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Roman archaeology
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Mr David Roberts
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2015 11:20
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2017 01:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8389

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