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H 290 x W 205 mm

188 pages

27 figures, 19 tables (21 plates in colour)

Published Feb 2019

Archaeopress Archaeology


Paperback: 9781789690972

Digital: 9781789690989

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Priest; Priestly Roles; Sacra; Roman Britain; Ancient Rome; Archaeology

Archaeopress Roman Archaeology 53

Performing the Sacra: Priestly roles and their organisation in Roman Britain

By Alessandra Esposito

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This book addresses a range of cultural responses to the Roman conquest of Britain with regard to priestly roles. The approach is based on current theoretical trends focussing on dynamics of adaptation, multiculturalism and appropriation, and discarding a sharp distinction between local and Roman cults.



Preface; Chapter 1: Introduction to the study, assessment of the sources, and research questions; Chapter 2: Terminology, methodological framework, and data sources; Chapter 3: Priestly regalia from Britain. The material evidence for priestly roles; Chapter 4: Contextual analysis and distribution of priestly regalia; Chapter 5: Iconographic representations of ritual performers from Britain; Chapter 6: Epigraphic evidence of priestly titles in Britain; Chapter 7: Religious performers and their activities in Roman Britain; Appendix 1: Primary Sources; Appendix 2: Database; Bibliography

About the Author

ALESSANDRA ESPOSITO completed her PhD in Classics at King’s College London under the supervision of John Pearce in 2018, with a dissertation on priestly regalia from Roman Britain. She has been a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology at King’s College London since 2014. Alessandra completed a BA in Latin and Greek Philology (2005) and in Archaeology and History of Ancient Art (2007) at Unverisità degli Studi di Napoli. After receiving an MA in Roman Archaeology at the same institution (2009), she worked in commercial archaeology in the area of Pozzuoli while completing her diploma of Scuola di Specializzazione (2012). She has taken part in and overseen archaeological excavations at sites in Italy (Cumae, Puteoli, Elea/Velia, Terina) led by Unverisità di Napoli, and in Jerash, Jordan, conducted by Aarhus University and Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Alessandra’s main research interest lies in the change in religious personnel and ritual performances in provincial communities after the Roman conquest, with a particular focus on archaeology of religion.


Making sense of the usually fragmented and ambiguous material is no small task, and presenting such a comprehensive dataset is achievement enough. But the author goes further, highlighting remarkable continuity between the Iron Age and Roman period, and assessing the pattern of deposition as well as use.
'The large quantity of objects from Roman Britain associated with people performing priestly functions is apparent to anyone who has written about religion in the province. Esposito’s book, based on a London thesis, brings most of these together... and is consequently very much to be welcomed.'