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An Archaeology of Identity
Soldiers and Society in Later Roman Britain
Andrew Gardner (Author)
312 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / Aug, 2007
Paperback (978-1-59874-227-5)
Hardback (978-1-59874-226-8)
eBook (978-1-61132-429-7)
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  - Archaeology

Best Scholarly Archaeological Book Finalist, 2008 British Archaeological Awards

What happened to Roman soldiers in Britain during the decline of the empire in the 4th and 5th centuries? Did they withdraw, defect, or go native? More than a question of military history, this is
"What can undoubtedly be said is that this is a book that will repay reading and which, rightly, will be much read within Roman archaeology. As I said at the outset, it is a valiant attempt to combine theory and practice and apply it to a story of Roman Britain. It is the best attempt we have seen yet; it is innovative and much can be learnt from it. It will make one look at the period with fresh eyes. It will make one question some of one\'s casual assumptions. For many who have never appreciated the diversity of evidence and the ways it can be looked at, it will be a welcome introduction to their richness."

- Hilary Cool, Journal of Roman Archaeology

"This book, which is the result of some very extensive reading and hard thinking, presents several challenges which need to be addressed by those interested in archaeological theory and just as much by all those interested in Roman archaeology…This book probably provides an important advance in Roman archaeology, but it needs to be tested to see what results could be obtained by the author, with a number of well-trained, like-minded students excavating a barrack-clock from the turf down in meticulous detail. Each digger would always have to hold in mind the theoretical and analytical points made in this stimulating book."

- Richard Reece, Britannia

"An Archaeology of Identity: Soldiers & Society in Late Roman Britain, is an intriguing read for the theoretical archaeologists, specialists in Roman Britain or the Roman military, or students taking courses with any of these topics. Whether the reader agrees or disagrees with AG’s thesis, I suspect that many readers will be stimulated by a different approach to the much published province of Britannia. Read the complete review here."

- Robert Collins, Archaeology

"Identity in Roman Britain was not simple and it was not set in stone. One notable example was that of the Roman soldier during the decline of the Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries. As lines of authority collapsed and he became less and less relevant, the Roman solider had a number of available options, including withdrawing, defecting to another armed force, or going native. Gardner (archaeology of the Roman Empire, University College, London) makes good use of the theories of Giddens and others to examine how people create and maintain their identities in terms of nationality, gender, class and ethnicity. He then compares these theories to practice as expressed by portable and architectural material culture and texts. The result is quite different than we expected about the fates of these complex identities and serves as a model for more comparisons of identity with artifacts."

- Book News Inc.

the starting point for Andrew Gardner’s incisive exploration of social identity in Roman Britain, in the Roman Empire, and in ancient society. Drawing on the sociological theories of Anthony Giddens and others, Gardner shapes an approach that focuses on the central role of practice in the creation and maintenance of identities—nationalist, gendered, class, and ethnic. This theory is then tested against the material remains of Roman soldiers in Britain to show how patterning of stratigraphy, architecture, and artifacts supports his theoretical construct. The result is a retelling of the story of late Roman Britain sharply at odds with the traditional text-driven histories and a theory of human action that offers much to current debates across the social sciences.

This title is sponsored by Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

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