The Roman empire afforded a kaleidoscope of sensations. Through a series of multisensory case studies centred on people, places, buildings and artefacts, and on specific aspects of human behaviour, this volume develops ground-breaking methods and approaches for sensory studies in Roman archaeology and ancient history. Authors explore questions such as: what it felt like, and symbolised, to be showered with saffron at the amphitheatre; why the shape of a dancer’s body made him immediately recognisable as a social outcast; how the dramatic gestures, loud noises and unforgettable smells of a funeral would have different meanings for members of the family and for bystanders; and why feeling the weight of a signet ring on his finger contributed to a man’s sense of identity. A multisensory approach is taken throughout, with each chapter exploring at least two of the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. The contributors’ individual approaches vary, reflecting the possibilities and the wide application of sensory studies to the ancient world. Underlying all chapters is a conviction that taking a multisensory approach enriches our understanding of the Roman empire, but also an awareness of the methodological problems encountered when reconstructing past experiences.
"…a stimulating contribution to a still relatively new question in the study of ancient life worlds, which has great potential for knowledge."
- Ursula Quatember, University of Graz, Austria, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017
"This volume explicitly sets out to spark a debate about sensory studies and antiquity … papers on different senses are deliberately interwoven rather than separated into sections on taste, touch, smell, etc … Perhaps the best feature of the book is its encouragement to experiment with sensory methods and its positioning of itself as the beginning of a conversation rather than a definitive statement."
- Britta Auger, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA, The Classical Journal 2018
Chapter 1 The Sounds of the City: from Noise to Silence in Ancient Rome
Chapter 2 The Multivalency of Sensory Artefacts in the City of Rome
Chapter 3 Beyond Smell: the Sensory Landscape of the Roman fullonica
Chapter 4 Soundscape of the Street: Architectural Acoustics in Ostia
Chapter 5 Sensory Archaeologies: a Vindolanda Smellscape
Thomas J. Derrick
Chapter 6 A Sense of Grief: the Role of the Senses in the Performance of Roman Mourning
Valerie M. Hope
Chapter 7 Blood, Fire and Feasting: The Role of Touch and Taste in Graeco-Roman Animal Sacrifice
Chapter 8 Babes in Arms? Sensory Dissonance and the Ambiguities of Votive Objects
Chapter 9 All That Glitters: Roman Signet Rings, the Senses and the Self
Ian J. Marshman
Chapter 10 Tuning into the Past: Methodological Perspectives in the Contextualised Study of the Sounds of Roman Antiquity
Chapter 11 Motion Sensors: Perceiving Movement in Roman Pantomime
Chapter 12 Scents of Place and Colours of Smell: Fragranced Entertainment in Ancient Rome
Afterword: Towards a Methodology for Roman Sensory Studies