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Rethinking the dichotomy: ‘Romans’ and ‘barbarians’

  • Nicky Garland (a1)

Our understanding of the interactions between the Roman Empire and indigenous societies (or ‘barbarians’) that lay within or surrounding its borders has undergone considerable advances over the last 30 years. Stemming initially from a colonial perspective, which saw the Roman Empire as ‘civilising’ those who were subsumed into it, the study of these interactions now includes a wealth of diverse post-processual or post-colonial approaches that stress the complexity of interactions within and between these social groups. Even with these advances, the self-imposed opposition between prehistoric and Roman studies, whether in theoretical stance, approach or research frameworks, remains constant in modern scholarly debate (Hingley 2012: 629). As a consequence, and despite extensive debate to the contrary, the divide between ‘Romans’ and ‘natives’ endures in our current interpretations of the contact between pre-Roman and Roman society.

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Hingley, R. 2000. Roman officers and English gentlemen: the imperial origins of Roman archaeology. London: Routledge.
Hingley, R. 2012. Iron Age knowledge: pre-Roman peoples and myths of origin, in Moore, T. & Armada, X.-L. (ed.) Atlantic Europe in the first millennium BC: 617–37. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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