Session Abstract – Oh, the Humanity! Improving the Model Army, in Theory

Roman military archaeology needs humanizing – it needs theory.

Arguably, it is the creative and critical use of theoretical paradigms that have brought the most humanity to Prehistoric and Early Medieval archaeology. Yet, Roman archaeology, particularly its military archaeology, rests behind the ramparts of excellent excavation reports and robust historical frameworks.

Contemporary post-colonial studies of the Roman empire have presented the Roman army as a violent, if multi-cultural instrument of an aggressive state, spreading empire with the point of a sword. This stance avoids the complexities of politically, economically, and socially managing a geographically widespread military diaspora – soldiers were more than mere killing machines or ethnic auxiliaries removed from their homelands.

There are vast quantities of data from across the empire, and more than two generations of sociological and psychological analysis of modern militaries. Roman military archaeologists can potentially lead the field in the application, development and testing of theoretical paradigms and models. But generals are needed!

This session seeks papers that provide a new outlook or insight on Roman military archaeology through the use of theory, at both the grand scale and the small keyhole evaluation.

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One response to “Session Abstract – Oh, the Humanity! Improving the Model Army, in Theory

  1. I’ve already heard some rumblings (verbally, not digitally) about this session.
    My basic question is this: why has the default stance of post-colonialist thought cast ‘empires’ and their armies as ‘bad’?
    It’s a cop-out. Military institutions are a syncretic social organization of the state, and a key means for cultural interaction.
    Discuss, complain (or ideally), agree…

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