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Broken pots and meaningless dots? Surveying the rural landscapes of Roman Italy.

Witcher, R. E. (2006) 'Broken pots and meaningless dots? Surveying the rural landscapes of Roman Italy.', Papers of the British School at Rome., 74 . pp. 39-72.


In this paper, I question why the rapid methodological development of field survey as a technique for the study of rural Roman Italy has not been accompanied by parallel developments in theoretical and interpretative frameworks. Field survey remains wedded to a limited range of text-driven and ‘processual’ questions, and is isolated from wider archaeological thinking about material culture and landscape. In marked contrast to other regions and periods, the study of the Roman countryside of Italy continues to focus on sites, pots and processes, rather than places, people and meanings. I argue for an epistemological shift to bring studies into dialogue with the wider discipline. To this end, theoretical and methodological practices are subject to critique. The suggestion that survey is incapable of responding to such issues as social identity is dismissed via a deconstruction of how archaeological knowledge is constructed. Various potential research topics are then discussed in order to outline a new agenda for field survey in Italy. The aim is to stimulate a diversification of approaches that fully realize the potential of survey to contribute to the study of Roman landscapes.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Roman Italy, Field survey, Methodology, Interpretive archaeology, Comparative survey.
Full text:Full text not available from this repository.
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Record Created:18 Jun 2008
Last Modified:27 May 2015 16:23

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