Armies are often portrayed as mechanistic and impersonal institutions with total authority over the lives of its members, easily restricting the impact of individual agency through defined roles and hierarchical management and leadership. More recently, however, ancient historians and archaeologists have pointed out how caricatured this portrayal of the Roman army is. Historians are able to provide examples from ancient writers and inscriptions to demonstrate these claims, but the task is more difficult for archaeologists. How do we demonstrate the limitations of imperial authority? By considering sociological concepts such as institutionalism, authority, and pervasion and their material correlations, archaeologists can test the degree to which the Roman army can be considered institutional and pervasive. This paper explores these issues.
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