The Context of Writing and Written Records in Ink: The Archaeology of Samian Inkwells in Britain

Willis, Steven (2005) The Context of Writing and Written Records in Ink: The Archaeology of Samian Inkwells in Britain. Archaeological Journal, 162 (1). pp. 96-145. ISSN 0066-5983. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Abstract

A category of small vessels fashioned in samian ware has conventionally been interpreted as representing inkwells. This identification seems valid given their typological characteristics. The type is fairly rare in Roman Britain, as in other western provinces. Nonetheless, it is well known through illustration and is sufficiently frequent to be familiar to those who study the period. Given the likely close form-function relationship of this type, its distribution is assessed in this paper as an archaeological index of the locations of writing and recording in Britannia using ink. Indeed, study of samian inkwells offers a seemingly reliable indicator of such activity. This prospect is almost unique given the rarity of other types of direct and indirect evidence for writing in ink from Roman Britain. Analysis shows, for the first time, that there is a clear pattern to the occurrence of samian inkwells. Most examples come from sites associated with the Roman military, with a sizeable proportion also recorded from major civil centres; elsewhere they are particularly infrequent. Examination of the spatial occurrence of these finds from within sites reveals a notable pattern. Many come from contexts at or close-by to locations where writing in ink might be expected. This is testimony to the rich potential of the archaeological record of this era to inform upon cultural practices.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Classical and Archaeological Studies
Depositing User: Steven Willis
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2008 17:33
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2014 12:56
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/10899 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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