Funerary Practices under Globalizing Influences on the Frontier of Roman Pannonia: The Performance and Expression of Communal and Individual Social Identities as Evidenced in the Cremation Burial Assemblages of the Bécsi Road Cemetery of the Canabae of Aquincum and the Southern Cemetery of the Civilian City of Carnuntum

  • Author / Creator
    Ellenberger, Tristan
  • This dissertation examines aspects of the cremation burial assemblages of graves from the published material of Bécsi Road cemetery of the canabae of Aquincum and the southern cemetery of the civilian settlement of Carnuntum in the Roman region of Pannonia as evidence of practices that reflect multiple and intersecting identities of the deceased. In doing so, this project shows that the archaeological evidence of burials provides an ideal medium through which to examine the development, negotiation and maintenance of social identities in a Roman provincial society. Through a systematic examination of aspects of the assemblage, such as the features of the burial and artifacts, practices and other markers of identity based on ethnicity, status, gender and age are revealed. This project takes into account multiple, intersecting identities in its examination of the burial evidence at a general communal level and at an individual burial level, since identities cannot exist in isolation as other identities always inform them. This project also considers that practices reflecting identities also change over time. Since mourners cremated the deceased in cemeteries over a long period of time, from the late first century AD to the mid third century AD in the Bécsi Road cemetery and from the middle of the second century AD to the mid third century in the southern cemetery, this project noted that trends of practice evolved over time. This project compares the two cemeteries by way of reconstructing practices of the funerary ceremony and examining the artifacts used in them so as to determine how the distinct funerary practices developed in response to globalizing processes.
    Theories concerning globalization form the interpretive basis of this project. Globalization theories are attractive because they take into account concurrent homogenizing processes that foster similarity on a wide scale and heterogenizing processes that promote difference. Both broad processes can be observed as occurring at these two locales as they share
    similarities in funerary practice, but at the same time distinct customs were practiced at a communal level. Through the examination of aspects of the funerary ritual and its relation to multiple, intersecting identities as influenced by on-going globalizing processes, this project situates itself in the discourse concerning social change in Roman provincial society. In the past, Roman scholars largely viewed such social change as a one-way process which measured the degree to which “natives” became “Roman.” Chapter 1 explores such viewpoints and concludes that globalizing theories more effectively take into account the complexity of social change in Roman provincial society. In addition, the chapter discusses the performative and social aspects of identity formation, negotiation and maintenance, with some focus on the importance of consideration for multiple identities and how they are affected by on-going globalizing processes. Chapter 2 explores identity as it directly relates to the funerary evidence. Burials provide a unique medium through which to examine multiple, intersecting identities since cemeteries contain numerous people of various demographics. As communal and symbolically charged events, funerals are significant for identity formation. Chapter 3 presents an historical outline of both settlements to provide a historical context for the cemeteries. Chapter 4 discusses Roman era funerary practices as evidenced first through the literary sources and then through archaeological sources. Such an overview lays the groundwork for the interpretation of the burials as evidence of funerary ceremony. In chapter 5, this project systematically examines aspects of the burials of both sites, both how they were formed and where possible what these aspects may have meant to the participants. Chapters 6 to 13 each deal with a different artifact category. The chapters discuss they ways in which various artifacts may have been used in the funerary ritual, its significance to the ceremonies performed in each cemetery and how these might reflect the identities of the participants.
    This project finds that a systematic and through examination of various aspects of the funerary ceremony through the burial evidence of a cemetery does bring to light significant practices that occurred and provides insight into the identities of those who participated in the funerary ceremonies. Common, localized trends from each cemetery are noted and illustrate that participants contributed to a sense of collectivity in the settlements through such communal rituals. Such practices, however, were affected by global processes and informed by several possible influences. Practices and ways of marking identities of the deceased were often quite varied and sometimes quite personal. Some of these trends used for marking aspects of the deceased would not have been noted without such an in-depth analysis. With consideration to the multiple identities that are found in the funerary record and the globalizing processes that may have affected them one is provided with a rich, in-depth look at the complexities of these provincial societies as evidenced from the funerary record.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.