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Glass, alcohol and power in Roman Iron Age Scotland - a study of the Roman vessel glass from non-Roman/native sites in north Northumberland and Scotland

Ingemark, Dominic LU (2003)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Denna avhandling bygger på ett studium av romerska glaskärl funna på icke-romerska/inhemska fyndorter — huvudsakligen tillhörande den romerska järnåldern (0–400 e.Kr.) — bortom Hadrianus mur i norra Britannien. Romerska glaskärl har påträffats på inalles 60 fyndorter, varav en stor del utgörs av bosättningar av skilda slag, och endast en liten del härrör från gravar. Som en följd av detta är merparten av materialet starkt fragmentiserat, och antalet intakta föremål litet. För att belysa detta annars tämligen svårförstådda material används det Fria Germanien med sitt rika och intakta gravmaterial som en analogi. Jämfört med det tämligen breda urval av föremålstyper i glas som hittas på romerska... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Denna avhandling bygger på ett studium av romerska glaskärl funna på icke-romerska/inhemska fyndorter — huvudsakligen tillhörande den romerska järnåldern (0–400 e.Kr.) — bortom Hadrianus mur i norra Britannien. Romerska glaskärl har påträffats på inalles 60 fyndorter, varav en stor del utgörs av bosättningar av skilda slag, och endast en liten del härrör från gravar. Som en följd av detta är merparten av materialet starkt fragmentiserat, och antalet intakta föremål litet. För att belysa detta annars tämligen svårförstådda material används det Fria Germanien med sitt rika och intakta gravmaterial som en analogi. Jämfört med det tämligen breda urval av föremålstyper i glas som hittas på romerska orter — militära såväl som civila — utgör det material man finner på inhemska fyndorter bortom Hadrianus mur ett tydligt urval, där tyngdvikten ligger på kärltyper vilka användes vid serverandet av vin i sin ursprungliga romerska kontext: koppar, bägare, små skålar, flaskor, tillbringare och flakonger. Också ur kvalitetshänseende utgör materialet tydligtvis ett urval. Det mesta pekar på att dessa föremål erhölls genom någon form av fredligt varuutbyte, och att det bakomliggande skälet till denna import var politisk snarare än kommersiell. Genom att bruka sig av materiell kultur av främmande ursprung kunde eliterna i järnålderssamhällena såväl skapa som befästa sitt inflytande och legitimera sin makt. Sålunda utgjorde dessa föremål inte endast statussymboler, utan maktredskap i sig, alltså rörde det sig om en form av prestige goods system. En tredelad modell utgör försök att ge en bild av hur eliten kan brukat dessa importföremål i sitt maktsträvande: a) Materiell kultur fungerade som ett maktredskap, och genom att utnyttja sina förhållandevis stora ekonomiska resurser kunde eliten bedriva varutbyte i syfte att skaffa sig varor av speciell symbolisk betydelse eller högt värde i det egna samhället. b) Koppen eller dess innehåll — mjöd, vin eller öl — var en symbol för makt, och förkroppsligade kungen eller hövdingens förmåga att vara generös, och de synnerligen starka lojalitetsband som fanns mellan denne och hans här. En betydande del av de importerade kärlen utgörs just av koppar, bägare och små skålar. c) Mycket talar för att de glaskärl man hittat på vissa fyndorter från den romerska järnåldern utgjort delar av romerska dryckesuppsättningar, och att det kan ha funnits åtminstone grundläggande kunskaper om romerska dryckesseder på dessa orter. Eliten strävade sålunda inte endast efter att erhålla varor av främmande ursprung, utan också att skaffa sig kunskap om hur dessa användes på ett korrekt vis. Oförmågan att förstå dessa föremåls betydelse, och den bristande kunskapen om hur man använde dessa på ett korrekt sätt, var förödmjukande och fungerade som en social barriär. (Less)
Abstract
This thesis is based on a study of Roman glass vessels found on non-Roman/native sites - chiefly of Roman Iron Age date (AD 0-400) - beyond Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britain. Roman glass vessels have been discovered on 60 sites in total, the majority of which are settlements of various types, and only a minor part are graves. As a consequence of this, the greater part of the material is strongly fragmented, and the number of intact objects scant. In order to shed light on this material, which would otherwise be difficult to understand, Free Germany with its rich and intact grave material is used as an analogy. Compared to the fairly broad range of glass vessels typically found on Roman sites, the material uncovered on native sites beyond... (More)
This thesis is based on a study of Roman glass vessels found on non-Roman/native sites - chiefly of Roman Iron Age date (AD 0-400) - beyond Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britain. Roman glass vessels have been discovered on 60 sites in total, the majority of which are settlements of various types, and only a minor part are graves. As a consequence of this, the greater part of the material is strongly fragmented, and the number of intact objects scant. In order to shed light on this material, which would otherwise be difficult to understand, Free Germany with its rich and intact grave material is used as an analogy. Compared to the fairly broad range of glass vessels typically found on Roman sites, the material uncovered on native sites beyond Hadrian’s Wall is clearly a selection of goods with an emphasis on types employed for the serving and drinking of wine in their original Roman context. Also with regard to the quality of the vessels the material manifestly constitutes a selection. There is much to suggest that these objects were obtained through some form of peaceful exchange, and that the underlying motivation for this import was political rather than commercial. By utilising material culture of foreign derivation the elites in the Iron Age societies were able to secure their influence as well as legitimate their power. Thus these vessels were not merely status symbols, but instruments of power in themselves, and we may speak of a kind of prestige goods system. The tripartite model presented in this dissertation is designed to give a notion of how the elites may have employed these imported objects in their struggle for power: a) Material culture functioned as an instrument of power, and by taking full advantage of their greater economic resources, the elites could pursue exchange in order to obtain goods of particular symbolic significance or high value within the indigenous society. b) The cup or its alcoholic contents — mead, wine or beer — was a symbol of power, and embodied the generosity of the king or chieftain, and the bonds of loyalty between him and his warriors. A significant proportion of the imported glass vessels are drinking vessels: cups, beakers and small bowls. c) There is much to suggest that the glass vessels found on some Iron Age sites formed parts of Roman drinking sets, and that a basic knowledge of Roman drinking customs may have existed on these. Hence the elites did not only strive to procure goods of foreign derivation, but also to acquire knowledge of how they were to be employed in a correct manner. The lack of knowledge of proper use would have been humiliating, and thus functioned as a social barrier against those of lower standing. (Less)
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author
opponent
  • Prof. Näsman, Ulf, Aarhus Universitet
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
"Celtic" and Germanic drinking customs, Roman, Symbols of power, Material culture, Presitige goods systems, Roman–native exchange, Free Germany, Roman glass, Iron Age Northumberland & Scotland, Wine, mead, beer, Archaeology, Arkeologi
pages
365 pages
defense location
Carolinasalen, Kungshuset, Lundagård
defense date
2003-03-15 10:00
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
523cc7da-6001-402e-b4a3-65515b08c870 (old id 21043)
date added to LUP
2007-05-28 12:43:55
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:17
@misc{523cc7da-6001-402e-b4a3-65515b08c870,
  abstract     = {This thesis is based on a study of Roman glass vessels found on non-Roman/native sites - chiefly of Roman Iron Age date (AD 0-400) - beyond Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britain. Roman glass vessels have been discovered on 60 sites in total, the majority of which are settlements of various types, and only a minor part are graves. As a consequence of this, the greater part of the material is strongly fragmented, and the number of intact objects scant. In order to shed light on this material, which would otherwise be difficult to understand, Free Germany with its rich and intact grave material is used as an analogy. Compared to the fairly broad range of glass vessels typically found on Roman sites, the material uncovered on native sites beyond Hadrian’s Wall is clearly a selection of goods with an emphasis on types employed for the serving and drinking of wine in their original Roman context. Also with regard to the quality of the vessels the material manifestly constitutes a selection. There is much to suggest that these objects were obtained through some form of peaceful exchange, and that the underlying motivation for this import was political rather than commercial. By utilising material culture of foreign derivation the elites in the Iron Age societies were able to secure their influence as well as legitimate their power. Thus these vessels were not merely status symbols, but instruments of power in themselves, and we may speak of a kind of prestige goods system. The tripartite model presented in this dissertation is designed to give a notion of how the elites may have employed these imported objects in their struggle for power: a) Material culture functioned as an instrument of power, and by taking full advantage of their greater economic resources, the elites could pursue exchange in order to obtain goods of particular symbolic significance or high value within the indigenous society. b) The cup or its alcoholic contents — mead, wine or beer — was a symbol of power, and embodied the generosity of the king or chieftain, and the bonds of loyalty between him and his warriors. A significant proportion of the imported glass vessels are drinking vessels: cups, beakers and small bowls. c) There is much to suggest that the glass vessels found on some Iron Age sites formed parts of Roman drinking sets, and that a basic knowledge of Roman drinking customs may have existed on these. Hence the elites did not only strive to procure goods of foreign derivation, but also to acquire knowledge of how they were to be employed in a correct manner. The lack of knowledge of proper use would have been humiliating, and thus functioned as a social barrier against those of lower standing.},
  author       = {Ingemark, Dominic},
  keyword      = {"Celtic" and Germanic drinking customs,Roman,Symbols of power,Material culture,Presitige goods systems,Roman–native exchange,Free Germany,Roman glass,Iron Age Northumberland & Scotland,Wine,mead,beer,Archaeology,Arkeologi},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {365},
  title        = {Glass, alcohol and power in Roman Iron Age Scotland - a study of the Roman vessel glass from non-Roman/native sites in north Northumberland and Scotland},
  year         = {2003},
}