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Roman Artefacts and Society: Design, Behaviour and Experience

Swift, Ellen Victoria (2017) Roman Artefacts and Society: Design, Behaviour and Experience. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 320 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-878526-2. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:52631)

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In this book, the author uses design theory, previously neglected in Roman archaeology, to investigate Roman artefacts in a new way, making a significant contribution to both Roman social history, and our understanding of the relationships that exist between artefacts and people. It is grounded in extensive data collection and the close study of artefacts from museum collections and archives. The concept of ‘affordances’—features of an artefact that make possible, and incline users towards, particular uses for functional artefacts— is an important one for the approach taken. This concept is carefully evaluated by considering affordances in relation to other sources of evidence such as use-wear, archaeological context, the end-products resulting from artefact use, and experimental reconstruction. The book then considers how we can use artefacts to understand aspects of Roman behaviour and experience, including discrepant experiences according to factors such as age, social position, and left- or right-handedness, which are fostered through artefact design. The relationship between production and users is also explored, investigating both what particular production methods make possible in terms of user experience, and also examining production constraints that have unintended consequences for users. The book examines topics such as the perceived agency of objects, differences in social practice across the provinces, cultural change and development in daily practice, and the persistence of tradition and social convention. It shows that design intentions, everyday habits of use, and the constraints of production processes each contribute to the reproduction and transformation of material culture. Artefact types explored in the case-studies include locks and keys, pens, shears, glass vessels, dice, boxes, and finger-rings, using material mainly drawn from the north-western Roman provinces, with some material also from Roman Egypt.

Item Type: Book
Projects: Design for living: artefact function and everyday Roman social practice
Uncontrolled keywords: Roman small finds, Roman social history, design theory, artefact function, affordance, material culture, objects, Roman Egypt, Roman Britain, Roman western provinces, Classical and Archaeological Studies
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DE The Greco-Roman World
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Funders: [UNSPECIFIED] Leverhulme Trust
Depositing User: Ellen Swift
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2015 13:16 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:31 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Swift, Ellen Victoria.

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