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Shaping ‘cultural’ identity and ethnicity: Roman Auxilia serving in the Northern military zone of Britannia and a critical examination of their representation in museums

Galer, M; (2012) Shaping ‘cultural’ identity and ethnicity: Roman Auxilia serving in the Northern military zone of Britannia and a critical examination of their representation in museums. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Museums are increasingly obliged to take note of Government policy regarding issues of social engagement, access and diversity within museum collections and how they relate to developing new audiences, particularly those of minority ethnic origin, in order to attract or maintain funding. This thesis examines this by using foreign recruited Roman Auxiliary soldiers as an extensive case study to show that their potential to reveal diversity could have the effect of attracting people of a range of ethnic backgrounds to museums, who might not otherwise attend, as well as demonstrating that ancient Britain was much more diverse than general opinion supposes. It will also show just how challenging many museums find this proposition. To explore these issues, this thesis examines archaeological and epigraphical evidence of auxiliary regiments, or Auxilia, in the northern frontier region of Britannia for indications of different ethnic and cultural identities and then critically examines their representation in modern museums of the area. Evidence will be drawn from the 1st to 4th centuries CE. A catalogue of all evidence concerning named auxiliary regiments has been constructed, along with indexes of museums in the area and of all archaeological sites from which material is sent to these museums for display. Using principles of ‘survivable traits’ this thesis uses a unique assessment tool to examine whether or not these traits have been communicated to the public while examining issues surrounding interpretation technique, imagery and mannequins. It also examines the manner in which archaeological theories such as ‘Romanization’ are communicated. It will reveal that most museums examined are poor at revealing basic information about unit origins, use outdated imagery, do not discuss the ethnicity or cultural identity of auxiliary soldiers and frequently oversimplify archaeological theory relating to identity. Suggestions for ways to improve this situation will be offered in conclusion. The field work was untaken largely in 2009 and therefore this thesis does not take into account changes that occurred to some museums in late 2011 and early 2012.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Shaping ‘cultural’ identity and ethnicity: Roman Auxilia serving in the Northern military zone of Britannia and a critical examination of their representation in museums
Language: English
Additional information: Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1363353
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