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People and society at Aquae Sulis

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1 People and society at Aquae Sulis
Part One : Introduction Find out where people came from, how citizens and their ex-slaves felt about each other and why they wanted to leave information about themselves on inscriptions. This presentation starts discussion about the nature of society and the people of Aquae Sulis. The worksheet ‘Roman Society’ is designed for use with this presentation, and is available for the accompanying Worksheets pdf.

2 Citizenship, multiculturalism, slavery and the status of women:
who actually lived in Roman Bath? how did the society work? who were the slaves? what was the status of freedmen and women? how independent could a woman be? what did it mean to be a Roman citizen? was there any social mobility: could individuals improve their status in life easily? How did the Romans extend their ‘Romanisation’ policy to create a feeling of unity throughout their empire?

3 Growth of the Roman Empire
Starting in the 2nd century B.C. the Romans expanded their area of influence from central Italy until they controlled all the territory around the Mediterranean. They invaded Britain in 43 A.D. in the time of the Emperor Claudius.

4 Development of Aquae Sulis
The first phase of building at the Baths was completed by 76 A.D. This stone commemorates the Emperor Vespasian (VES) during his 7th (VII) year of holding the office of Consul. He came to power in 69 A.D. after starting his career as one of the generals who led the invasion of Britain for Claudius.

5 Roman Bath: Aquae Sulis
This reconstruction drawing shows what the Roman town looked like, with the barrel-vaulted roofs of the Baths in the centre, adjoining the temple enclosure. All Roman towns throughout the Empire were designed in a similar way, with all the usual features inside a town wall: forum, theatre, temples, baths, and rectilinear town-houses with courtyard gardens. Visitors from all over the Empire would immediately feel ‘at home’.

6 Citizens of provincial towns could improve their status by becoming decuriones .
Each town had an Ordo – a town council, based on the Roman model. decuriones (town councillors ) automatically became Augustales (priests of the Emperor-cult) ,showing their loyalty to the Emperor. they were expected to demonstrate commitment to their town by paying for the construction and repair of public buildings.

7 The Romans were happy to assimilate the religious beliefs of conquered nations and to incorporate local styles of sculpture. but the architectural and organisational features of towns and villas were Roman and citizenship of provincial towns was always a ‘second-class’ option: For the assimilation of religious beliefs see the Romanisation presentations.

8 Rome was the only city that mattered.
Civitas - Citizenship of Rome / the Roman Empire – was what all inhabitants aspired to because it guaranteed significant legal and political rights - and it was possible to obtain Roman Citizenship in a variety of ways even before the 3rd century, when it was granted to all free citizens in the Empire. This line-drawing (P9) shows part of a Diploma, or discharge certificate for a soldier. He came from a part of the Empire whose citizens were not also Roman citizens and as part of his retirement package he was granted Roman citizenship.

9 By looking closely at names on inscriptions it is possible to work out a person’s status:
Slaves had only a cognomen, given by their master or the slave-dealer. It might be their original name or a nickname, often of Greek origin e.g. Trifosa = ‘Delicious’, Eutuches = ‘Good Fortune’. Freedmen and women (libertus/liberta) took the nomen of their former master. ordinary townspeople had one or two names, followed by a patronymic (i.e. ‘son of …..’) Women had a nomen and patronymic: e.g. Flavia M(arci) F(ilia) = Flavia, Marcus’ daughter. The patronymic was replaced by their husband’s name on marriage.

10 By looking closely at names on inscriptions it is possible to work out a person’s status:
CITIZENS had three parts to their name – A praenomen given them at birth, often abbreviated in inscriptions. A nomen: the name of their ‘gens’ or family. (Note that the gens is feminine in Latin even when the holder of the name is not!) A cognomen: Either the branch (stirps) of the gens to which the individual belonged, or a nickname based on their physical appearance or deeds. e.g. G. Calpurnus Receptus – Gaius (his personal name) descends from the gens or family Calpurnia (a Plebeian family who traced their ancestry back to Calpus, the son of the second king of Rome Numa Pompilius) and has the cognomen Receptus, which might means ‘received’ or ‘drew back’. L. Marcius Memor – Lucas (his personal name) is of the gens Marcia (another Plebeian family, who claimed descent from the fourth king of Rome Ancus Marcius) and has the cognomen ‘Memor’, which could mean ‘mindful’ or ‘thoughtful’ or ‘thankful’.

11 Social status: how can we find out about …
slaves – how did you become a slave? - how highly did masters value their slaves? freedmen and women – what kind of relationships did they have with their former masters? Is there any evidence for affection or respect? Imperial freedmen and women (belonging to the Emperor) – what sort of jobs did they do? citizens of a town and decuriones (members of the Town Council) women - how independent were they? Roman citizens: who was eligible to be granted citizenship? Roman soldiers – did they all come from Rome? – where did they go when they retired? … and how many of the residents of Aquae Sulis were actually born in Britannia?

12 Scientific analysis of a body found in a coffin-lining provides evidence of his origins and life-style: Condition of body --- attrition of bones tooth decay DNA analysis oxygen isotope analysis of his teeth buried rather than being cremated and having his ashes buried facing almost East shows that he was --- at least 45 years old wealthy enough to eat honey his mother came from the eastern Mediterranean he came from the eastern Mediterranean, probably Syria, and also grew up there he died in the 2nd or 3rd Century, when burial became more usual, with the advent of Christianity and Mithraism he might have been a Christian So this man originally came from Syria! He was wealthy enough to afford a high-status burial.

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