Van Oyen, Astrid : Small Grant, 2016-2017


Astrid Van Oyen (Classics), Gijs Tol (University of Melbourne), Rhodora Vennarucci (University of Arkansas)

Arts & Sciences
Project Title: 
The Marzuolo Archaeological Project (MAP): Innovation and Community in the Roman Countryside
Project Abstract: 
Studies on the Roman economy have spilled a lot of ink on whether innovation in the ancient past was the driver of economic growth that it is today. But in this research the actual bottom-up process of innovation tends to be obliterated by an emphasis on macro-economic structures. To remedy this, the Marzuolo Archaeological Project (MAP) investigates the Roman-period rural site of Podere Marzuolo (Grosseto, Italy) where evidence of production of the Roman empire’s most widespread ceramics, so-called terra sigillata, has been found in both an experimental and a standardized phase. An integrated fieldwork programme of excavation and spatial and material analyses seeks to capture the micro-resolution of changes in the day-to-day practices of the craftsmen. MAP aims to 1) investigate the social context and craft dynamics of innovation from a bottom-up perspective, 2) challenge current models of the Roman rural economy in general, and of terra sigillata production in particular, and 3) understand the process of knowledge transmission and the creation of standards. An Einaudi Small Grant is requested to support the 2017 excavation season at Marzuolo, which will serve as a proof of concept for the project’s interpretive framework, and will facilitate future multi-annual grant applications to major US funding bodies (National Science Foundation; National Endowment for the Humanities).