The Romanization of Central Spain: Complexity, Diversity, and Change in a Provincial Hinterland

The Romanization of Central Spain: Complexity, Diversity, and Change in a Provincial Hinterland

The Romanization of Central Spain: Complexity, Diversity, and Change in a Provincial Hinterland

The Romanization of Central Spain: Complexity, Diversity, and Change in a Provincial Hinterland

Synopsis

Curchin explores how, why and to what extent the peoples of Central Spain were integrated into the Roman Empire during the period from the second century BC to the second century AD.He approaches the question from a variety of angles, including the social, economic, religious and material experiences of the inhabitants as they adjusted to change, the mechanisms by which they adopted new structures and values, and the power relations between Rome and the provincials. The book also considers the peculiar cultural features of Central Spain, which made its Romanization so distinctive.

Excerpt

History is a fraud, a subjective interpretation of events accepted as objective truth.

(Eliot Hayes)

For every problem there is one solution which is simple, neat, and wrong.

(H. L. Mencken)

What was it like to be a Celtiberian in the Roman world? This simply-stated problem evokes more questions than answers. What do we understand by ‘Celtiberian’ and ‘Roman’? Would Celtiberians under Roman rule still think of themselves as ‘Celtiberian’, or as ‘Roman’? And to which phase of the Roman world are we referring: the second century BC, the age of Augustus, the Late Empire? Then again, is our hypothetical Celtiberian male or female, rich or poor, urban or rural? Would such a person still be living in Celtiberia, or would they profit from the employment opportunities and material comforts available on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, or at Rome itself?

Previous generations of scholars neither asked nor cared how a Celtiberian would have reacted to being part of the Roman world. But in recent years, the research agenda for Roman history has shifted dramatically. The focus is no longer on consuls and battles, but on long-term trends and socio-cultural issues. Traditional historical questions arising from the annalistic ancient sources have yielded their primacy to such unconventional concerns as demography, gender studies and economic modelling. In this altered climate, the study of Romanization must embrace new techniques and consider new themes, including human behaviour, personal and group values, and the construction of identity. Though historians still find it convenient to objectify the elements of Romanization as cities, religion, language, and so on, these are not so much ‘things’ as reflections of human activity. Cultural transformation is really about changes in people’s behaviour.

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