Can there be an archaeology of religion? Two case studies in Roman Britannia



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The primary aim of this thesis is to rethink archaeological approaches to religion and ritual as seen in Roman Britain. To this end I focus on regional examples in Chester, the Roman fort of Deva, one of the largest and lengthiest military settlements in Roman Britain. This assesses what has been deemed “religious” in such an area and how the evaluation of spirituality from particular examples of material culture is problematic in discussing the wider interpretation of belief-systems. Broad processual models like Romanization lack the intricacy of the individual and methodologies like historical archaeology allow modern constructs to define paradigms within cultures that are often absent, but assumed under previous systems of study. The introduction of recent interdisciplinary approaches and methodology, in so far as cognitive-processual archaeology, phenomenology, ‘spiritual entanglement’, post-colonial theory and the study of movement and interaction in Roman Britain changes the standard definitions of religion in a context of material culture. This thesis calls upon new approaches to archaeology to again question the interpretation of an archaeology of religion.