Seminar by Astrid Van Oyen

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Astrid Van Oyen: An Archaeology of Having: Poverty, Plunder and Possession on the Roman Frontier

Lacking tools to deal with absence, archaeology has approached poverty through various takes on presence as possession – having little or having less than. But casting poverty as possession does injustice both to the real deprivation of the poor and to their agency. This paper uses the case of an ‘out of place’ sealstone at an otherwise materially poor Roman-period Northumberland farmstead to complicate ‘having’. Instead of automatically interpreting archaeological finds as past possessions, it investigates ‘having’ as a capability in and of itself, contextually activated and negotiated.

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First published: 18 February 2021