Thursday, July 14, 2016
Introduction to the Ancient Material Culture of Rome
An expert in the field of Jewish studies, Yaron Eliav serves as an associate professor at the University of Michigan's Department of Near Eastern Studies, where he teaches on rabbinic literature and Jewish history of late antiquity. Aside from his passion for Judaic studies, Yaron Eliav also maintains an interest in the material culture of ancient civilizations such as Rome.
The study of ancient material culture involves discovering and identifying artifacts from a culture and evaluating them on the basis of their social and economic context. Looking at these artifacts as more than mere objects helps researchers delve more deeply into the individual nature of an ancient society like Rome.
As Rome developed, it drew much from Greece and Egypt. Despite building upon the culture it inherited from these more ancient societies, Rome also developed numerous technological innovations that substantially affected the structure of Roman society. Researchers can look at the artifacts left from the material culture as a sign of a thriving technologically and culturally advanced civilization.
Some of the Roman artifacts still visible today include the ruins of enormous arches and aqueducts. Rome relied heavily on the use of concrete for its structures, and the ruins testify to the endurance of the empire's methods. Other smaller artifacts range from newspapers written on stone or metal to coins used for welfare programs.