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Recycling and the Ancient Economy - 22-23/09/2017, Oxford (England)

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 22-23/09/2017

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Old Library, All Souls College, (Oxford, England)


INFO: web -



The recycling of materials and objects was extensive in the past, but is rarely embedded into models of the economy; even more rarely is any attempt made to assess the scale of recycling, perhaps because it frequently operated in de-regulated, liminal spaces. Yet recent developments, particularly ‘big data’ approaches, and high-resolution analytical chemistry, are increasingly offering the means to reconstruct, and even to quantify, recycling.

This conference, which focuses principally on the Roman Imperial and Late Antique world, will develop and integrate methodological approaches, and begin to adapt our models of the ancient economy to accommodate the significant role of recycling. Crucially, it will investigate recycling during times of economic prosperity as well as ‘crisis’.

By fostering discussion between participants with a range of specialisms, this conference and landmark publication will enrich our understanding of the ancient economy, and provide a useful contrast with the global systems in operation today. Most importantly, they will set the agenda for integrated, quantitative studies of past recycling practice


09:00 Registration

09:20 Welcome and Opening Talk Thomas J. Derrick, University of Leicester Chloë N. Duckworth, Newcastle University Andrew Wilson, University of Oxford

SESSION 1 Recognising Commodities, Transforming Meaning Chair: Andrew Wilson, University of Oxford

09:30 Roman Economy, Material Culture and Recycling J. Theodore Peña, University of California, Berkeley

10:15 Cloth and Textile Re-Use John P. Wild, University of Manchester


11:30 Re-Use and Recycling of Papyrus Erja Salmenkivi, University of Helsinki

12:15 Recycling of Statuary and Spolia Simon J. Barker, Birkbeck, University of London


SESSION 2 New Approaches to Recognising and Quantifying Recycling in Transmutable Materials Chair: Ian C. Freestone, University College London

14:00 Coinage and Metals Recycling Matthew Ponting, University of Liverpool

14:45 Large-Scale Modelling of Copper Alloy Recycling Peter Bray, University of Oxford Mark Pollard, University of Oxford


16:00 Isotopes and Glass Recycling Patrick Degryse, KU Leuven

16:45 Modelling Recycling Patterns Across the Empire Chloë N. Duckworth, Newcastle University Victoria Sainsbury, University of Oxford

17:30 DISCUSSION 19:30

EVENING MEAL For speakers, chairs, and panellists


SESSION 3 Site Formation, Visibility, and Temporality of Recycling Chair: Chloë N. Duckworth, Newcastle University

09:30 Roman Merchant Ship Cargo of Scrap Metal and Raw Materials in Caesarea Harbour Jacob Sharvit, Israel Antiquities Authority

10:15 A Regional Economy of Recycling Over Four Centuries at Spolverino, Tuscany, and Environs Alessandro Sebastiani, University at Buffalo Thomas Derrick, University of Leicester


11:30 The Organised Recycling of Roman Villa Sites Beth Munro, Independent Scholar

12:15 Recycled Objects as Responses to Crisis in Post-Roman Britain Robin Fleming, Boston College 13:00 Re-Use of Roman Artefacts in Late Antiquity and the Early Medieval West Ellen Swift, University of Kent


SESSION 4 Expert panel and discussion Chair: David J. Mattingly, University of Leicester Panel: Catherine Alexander, Durham University Anthropology, global perspective Jane Evans, British Geological Survey Analytical science methodologies Ian C. Freestone, University College London Analytical science methodologies Christopher Green, University of Oxford Temporality, GIS Astrid van Oyen, University of Cambridge Theorising material culture Andrew Wilson, University of Oxford The Roman economy

14:30 Panel Discussion

15:30 Questions from Audience Concluding Remarks Chloë N. Duckworth, Newcastle University Andrew Wilson, University of Oxford

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