University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The Romans who saw the Caspian Sea - Reports from the Field: Douglas G. Lovell, Jr.


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Film Description:Borderland studies are one of the most vibrant areas of modern archaeological research, looking at the dynamic process of negotiation between local residents, political elites, and imperial authorities. Among scholars of the Roman Empire, this is reflected in recent work in Britain, along the Danube, and in North Africa, which has brought much greater clarity to the strategies both of the Roman authorities and their neighbors. However, the story of Roman presence in the northern reaches of the South Caucasus—the modern nations of Azerbaijan and Georgia—is rarely integrated into these broader narratives about the Roman Empire. The region, however, was a vibrant zone, where local dynasts built bath complexes in a Roman style, and drank from cups imported from Parthia. They wrote inscriptions in Greek declaring their ties to Rome, but traded Parthian coinage. They freely acquired material culture and customs from areas that we consider 'East' and 'West,' while choosing to identify exclusively with neither.

This talk describes research carried out during the summer of 2014 in Azerbaijan and Georgia, aimed at developing my doctoral dissertation concerning these issues. The foundation of my dissertation is not new archaeological excavation, but rather the rich material excavated by Soviet and post-Soviet archaeologists in the region, which has sadly received little attention outside of the sphere of Russian-speaking scholars. Lara will be highlighting some of the most important sites from the region, and discussing strategies for contextualizing this material, as well as directions for future research.
Video Category:Lecture
Video Date:10/23/2014
Contributor: Lara Fabian
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