When I share with others that I’m an archaeologist, I often get asked the question, “what period do you ‘do‘?” The simplest answer is “I ‘do’ Roman stuff” – really, anything relating to life and society in the ancient Roman world fascinates me. Their world – everything from the daily and mundane to how they responded to major crises – is in some way familiar and relatable when you look closely. As an archaeologist, I’m interested in exploring the Roman world through material evidence: anything from the smallest of pieces of pottery to the monumental architecture of a major urban center.
Of course, approaching and interpreting material evidence is supported by copious bodies surviving literature and written records. The Ancient Romans, especially, were prolific writers. They wrote everything from expansive compendiums on history to love (and hate) poetry. Added to literature are seemingly endless epigraphic records (inscriptions) recording dedications, financial transactions, item inventories, etc.
Studying Ancient Rome also provides a great opportunity to ask broader questions about human life and the dynamics of complex society and culture. As a Humanities scholar in the 21st century, I have a keen interest in learning more about the unseen and in-between: what about the folks who weren’t paying for the construction of new monuments or writing histories? Understanding how the non-elite, the provincial, the marginalized, and the exploited people in ancient society lived can help us understand how the marginalized and oppressed members of our present-day society experience the world around them – a first step toward inclusion and curbing oppression, in my opinion.
Finally, as an African American man of mixed race, it’s not particularly common for people with my identity to be engaged in the scholarship of Classical Studies or Archaeology. Nevertheless, there are some very great people of color who’ve made contributions to these disciplines that may not be well known or have been consciously overlooked. Conversely, the modern construct of race is something that has a close relationship with modern intellectualism’s interpretations of the ancient Mediterranean world. There’s a lot to unpack, but responsible scholarship is self-aware!
A note on organization: I will separate each of my research interests into its own category. I’ll divide each update into parts, each building on the knowledge and ideas of the last. I will include bibliographic information for the sources I am using and, when possible, additional resources so that readers can follow along or seek out their own research.
More Research content coming soon!