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Becoming a Roman province

Jong, Lidewijde de (2007) Becoming a Roman province. : An analysis of funerary practices in Roman Syria in the context of empire. PhD.

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In this dissertation I examine the relationship between provincial society and empire. I draw the relatively unknown Roman province of Syria into current discussions of ancient imperialism and Romanization. Working on the primary data from the excavations of tombs, the impact of the incorporation of the province of Syria (modem Syria and Lebanon) into the Roman empire is investigated. Scholars have argued that Syria's pre-Roman level of urbanization, social stratification, and economic development resulted in the region remaining rather isolated from the Roman Empire. The archaeological remains, however, provide a different picture and illustrate that the province underwent radical changes in the form of monumentalization of the cemetery and city center. The conquest by Rome, I argue, resulted in economic, social, and political changes that created new relationships within the provincial communities of Syria. These altered relationships were expressed in new meanings of space and consumption, and evidenced by funerary practices. I investigate the continuation and change in funerary practices of 16 sites and compare the Roman period (64 BCE-330 CE) to pre-Roman (Hellenistic) and contemporary Mesopotamian (Parthian) patterns. The chapters concentrate on the location and architecture of the tombs, the distribution of the different gender-, age-, and other groups, the treatment ofthe body, and the grave good assemblages. The Roman cemeteries were filled with large and visible tombs adorned with local and foreign symbols, prominently displaying the social position of their owners. The evidence indicates that these communal tombs were used by members of the same family. Starting the 1st c. BCE, therefore, the cemeteries in Syria became the focus of conspicuous display, probably in the context of members of elite families. With the example of funerary practices as evidence for social change, I demonstrate that the traditional view of Syria as remaining static and somewhat isolated from the Roman empire is mistaken. Instead, the analysis illustrates that cemeteries were the sites of multiple renegotiations of social identities, directly related to incorporation into the Roman empire and the transformation of the region of Syria into a Roman province.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: history, funeral, province, Syria, Roman
Language: English
Publisher: University of Groningen
Date of graduation: 1 July 2007
Status: Published
Uncontrolled Keywords: history, funeral, province, Syria, Roman
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2020 10:46
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2020 10:46

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