Dr. Maureen Carroll

Reader in Roman Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield

Ethnic identities expressed through dress on Roman funerary and votive monuments on the Rhine and Danube frontiers

Funerary portrait of an Eraviscan woman from Dunapentele (Hungary), early 2nd century A.D.

In the frontier provinces we see a significant degree of cultural diversity, due to the influx of civilians and military personnel from many parts of the Roman world who settled amongst and interacted with the indigenous populations. The focus of this research project is the lower Rhine frontier, particularly what became the territory of the Germanic Ubii in the late 1st c. B.C., and the Danubian frontier region, especially the core settlement area of the Celtic Eravisci in the mid-1st c. B.C.

In the frontier zone people on a regional, local and personal level constructed identities and expressed them in many different ways. Particularly important in the context of self perception is the display of identities through clothing and bodily adornment.

An Ubian couple –note the voluminous Ubian headdress she wears – depicted on their sarcophagus in Cologne (Germany), late 2nd-early 3rd c. A.D.

The project investigates stone monuments whose images and texts played an important role in defining cultural, social and gender relationships on the frontier. It is these monuments that provide us with depictions of indigenous and Roman clothing and jewellery. Monumental tombs and funerary inscriptions became a prime form of displaying ethnic affiliation, competing socially and perpetuating memory. Likewise, votive altars with depictions of local gods and local worshippers represent a Roman cultural vehicle used to express ethnic identities and social status. The depiction of ethnic dress or „foreign" Roman attire on permanent stone monuments, therefore, indicate that clothing was special and consciously chosen.