Beyond the Grave. Excavating the Dead in the Late Roman Provinces

In: Field Methods and Post-Excavation Techniques in Late Antique Archaeology
Author: John Pearce

Abstract

Recent decades have been fruitful for the gathering of new evidence, and for the establishment of new methods and theoretical perspectives in Late Roman funerary archaeology. This paper reflects on three aspects of the new data, distribution, character and dissemination, using examples from Britain and beyond. Grave distribution is strongly biased towards urban contexts, with consequences for socio-cultural and demographic analysis. Opportunities to advance understanding of burial as a process rather than a single depositional moment are discussed, including funerary rituals, commemorative activity, grave marking and the disturbance of human remains. A fuller exploitation of digital dissemination is advocated, in particular to allow one of the richest pre-modern skeletal samples to achieve an impact commensurate with its scale and quality.

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