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Roman Archaeology

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Written and Oral Reports

The Written Report

The written portion of an oral report is meant to provide background and the sources for your oral report. In other words, the written report should focus on the facts: the history of the site, who commisioned it, what materials were used. It is not meant to be a written version of the oral report. It may be in the form of lecture notes or a fairly detailed outline. It should be no longer than 2 pages typed (unless you need to include plans). The written portion should include:

  • Plan(s) of the site (only if the textbook does not have a good one)
  • History of the site/monument: when was it first founded/created, significant events in the life of the monument, when (if ever) was it abandoned/lost?
  • Excavation history (if relevant) : who excavated and when? under whose auspices (e.g. American Academy, Italians, French, Germans, etc.)
  • Highlights: what are the most significant features/structures, art, etc., at the site, and very briefly, why are they significant? Measurements (if available), building materials, details about decoration should be included.
  • Bibliography:
    Part I: Primary Excavation Reports
    Part II: Secondary Literature on the topic
    This bibliography is meant to be as inclusive as possible so that you or others could use it for further research. Place an asterisk (*) next to each item that you consulted for your report. Please consult the MLA stylesheet, Turabian, or the format recommended in AJA 95 (1991) 1-16. Please note at the top which you are using.

For excavation history and further bibliography, the best places to look first are E. Nash, Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome (Hacker 1980), L. Richardson, New Topographical Dictionary of Rome (1992), Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites and Lacus Curtius. See the bibliography page for more print resources. See the Trip home page for more web resources.

Some common abbreviations of English-language journals (cf. AJA 95 [1991] 1-16 for a more complete list, including foreign periodicals):

  • AJA American Journal of Archaeology
  • ANRW Aufstieg und Niedergang der Romischen Welt
  • Arch Archaeology
  • JRA Journal of Roman Archaeology
  • JRS Journal of Roman Studies
  • MAAR Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome
  • PBSR Papers of the British School at Rome
  • SIMA Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology

The Oral Report

The oral portion of the report should take about 20-30 minutes. It may in fact take longer since we will be walking around the site and there will be questions. It will include all the relevant information from your written report plus an interpretation of the monument: how does it speak to Romans who saw it? Here are some questions you will want to discuss:

1. What is the plan of the site? What is the internal arrangement of the monument? How does one room or section relate to another?

2. What evidence can be used in securing a date and identifying the builder/artist/patron of the monument (coins, pottery, architecture, inscriptions, literary evidence)?

3. With what materials was the monument built? What decoration adorned the monument? What sort of finds (if any) were found at the site that may help identify the monument's function or purpose?

For questions 4-5, think of the monuments you are studying as almost living beings that can speak to other monuments nearby and the people who view them through the language of its architectural style, sculptural decoration, and inscriptions.

4. Why is the monument's location important? How does it relate to other monuments nearby? If the site includes more than one building, how do the different buildings interact and respond to each other? Is there anything (architectural, sculptural, social, political) that unifies the buildings on the site?

5. Why was the monument built? What does the style, architecture, and decoration say about its builder/artist/patron? What effect did it have on people who saw it? How do people from different social classes or different genders view the monument? Does it make a political, moral, religious, or social statement? For whom does it make this statement?

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