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Big Data on the Roman Table - 06-07/07/2016, Leicester (England)


Eating and drinking are core activities around which interactions within and between households and communities are structured. As a vital sphere of socio-cultural practice, greater knowledge of everyday food consumption practices can better inform understandings of social connectedness and disconnectedness in the Roman world. Artefacts associated with eating and drinking have been recorded by archaeologists over many decades and are the largest component of ‘big data’ from the Roman world. They include mass-produced terra sigillata fine wares and more numerous local imitations and off-shoots, as well as metal and glass wares and utensils. These under-utilised data provide fine-grained information on Roman food-consumption practices essential for a bottom-up approach to varied experiences of phenomena such as imperialism and globalisation. An artefactual approach permits analyses of representative cross-sections of societies throughout the empire, and more understanding of the lives of people less well recorded in the written sources (e.g. women, children, ordinary soldiers, non-élites, provincials), while also incorporating more visible groups such as urban elites. Current knowledge of everyday consumption practices for the majority living in the Roman Empire remain uneven. Little is known about how, where and with whom most people ate their meals, or what aspects of this social practice might have conveyed a universal sense of shared behaviour.


FECHA/DATE/DATA: 06-07/07/2016


LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Innovation Centre, University of Exeter (Exeter, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Pim Allison (University of Leicester); Martin Pitts (University of Exeter)

INFO: web 


INSCRIPCIÓN/REGISTRATION/REGISTRAZIONE: inscripción online / registration online / registrazione online





Tuesday 5th July


Workshop dinner, 6pm, Côte Brasserie (upstairs), 19-21 Cathedral Yard, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1HB


Day 1, Wednesday 6th July


9.00am                        Welcome& aims (Martin Pitts)


Session 1. Table settings in the Roman world


Part 1: Funerary contexts in the Roman west


9.10am            Table wares in funerary objectscapes. Styles of consumption in the Roman west                       Martin Pitts (University of Exeter)


9.40am                        Pottery in burials. A discussion on vessel function(s)

Xavier Deru & Alice Dananai (University of Lille)


10.10am          Are ceramic grave groups proxy for table settings? Statistical and other approaches to identifying table settings in Roman Britain

Edward Biddulph (Oxford Archaeology)


10.40am          Morning break


Part 2: Fine wares from Republic to Empire


11.00am          Fine ware “table settings” in Republican Hispania Citerior: defining social-cultural trends?

Jordi Principal (Museud'Arqueologia de Catalunya)


11.30am          A Terra Sigillata Revolution? Changing Dining Practices in Roman Mediterranean France (1st c. BCE – 2nd c. CE)

Benjamin Luley (Gettysburg College)


12.00pm          Finally cleaning up the mess, after all those centuries. A study of the pottery left behind in a presumed schola at ancient Sagalassos (SW Turkey)

Jerome Poblome&Johan Claeys (University of Leuven)


12.30 pm         South Gaulish Terra Sigillata - problems of vessel identification

Allard Mees& Geoffrey Dannell


1.00pm                        Lunch


Session 2. Developing approaches to vessel use


2.30pm                        Measuring use wear on black gloss pottery from Rome through 3D surface analysis

Laura Banducci (Carleton University)


3.00pm            Domestic patterns of table ware consumption in Roman Celtiberia. An analytic approach

Jesús Bermejo Tirado (York University, Toronto)


3.30pm                        Afternoon break


3.50pm                        Pottery distribution and function at the Flavian castra and canabae at Nijmegen

Vincent van der Veen (Radboud University, Nijmegen)


4.20pm            Calculating vessel volume as a means of understanding what could have been consumed from drinking vessels

William Baddiley (University of Birmingham)


Day 2, Thursday 7th July


Session 3: New approaches to collating, analysing and visualising data


9.00am            Organic residue analysis and Roman pottery: past, present and future applications for understanding vessel use

Lucy Cramp (University of Bristol)


9.30am                        Tableware from the large Augustan camp on the Hunerberg, Nijmegen

Ryan Niemeijer (Radboud University, Nijmegen)


10.00am          Was there a Leicester way of eating?

Martin Sterry and Nick Cooper (University of Leicester)


10.30am          Morning break


10.50am          Building an inter-site ontological database using ‘legacy data’

Pim Allison, Daanvan Helden, &Yi Hong (University of Leicester)


11.20am          Classifying and visualising Roman pottery using computer-scanned typologies

Jacqueline Christmas & Martin Pitts (University of Exeter)


11.50am          Exploring automated pottery scanning

Jeremy Levesley, Tyukin, Nick Cooper andPim Allison (University of Leicester)


12.20pm          Lunch


Session 4: New data-sets


1.30pm            Large Data or Small Data? Fine Ware Finds at Kom al-Ahmer near Alexandria, Egypt

Mohamed Kenawi (Alexandria University)


1.45pm                       Roman fine wares on the Danube frontier. The example of the Roman colony of Mursa

TinoLeleković (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb)


2.00pm            Tableware from Žutalokva, Roman Dalmatia (Croatia)

Ivana OžanićRoguljić (Institute of Archaeology, Zagreb)


Session 5. Reflexions, conclusions and future directions


2.15pm                       Research on the Roman Table: data standards, methods and aims

Sarah Colley (University of Leicester)


3.00pm                        Reflections on the workshop

Steve Willis (University of Kent)


3.30pm                        Afternoon break, followed by open discussionled by Pim Allison and Martin Pitts




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