Ana Veličković is currently a second-year PhD student of archaeology at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy (Serbia). At the same institution, she got her BA (2018) and her MA (eng. Possible new conclusions regarding the process of Romanization based on the research of Roman bi-ritual burials, 2020). During her studies, she developed special interests in topics like the development of the early Roman Empire, Roman Army, Roman Provincial Archaeology and Theoretical Archaeology. She also worked on a couple of archaeological sites – Karamburnaki site in Thessaloniki (Greece), Belgrade Fortress (Serbia) and Glac site in Sremska Mitrovica (Serbia). Through her PhD, Ana hopes to gain new insides regarding the cross-cultural contacts and transmissions on the territory of modern-day Montenegro (Roman Dalmatia) during the first centuries of Roman rule.
What do we know about Romanization?
The theory of Romanization represents the dominant interpretive framework of Roman archaeology and has been the subject of its study for more than a century. It was created with the intention of researchers to explain the social relations and cultural changes that occurred due to the Roman conquest of other territories and their annexation to the Roman Empire. In its traditional meaning, created in the 19th century, the process of Romanization implied the mere assimilation of the local population, i.e. “barbarians” and their transformation into Romans, which would include changes in material culture, visible to archaeologists. The rethinking of this concept began in the last decades of the 20th century, following the leading political, sociological and philosophical trends of the time. In the last thirty years, a large number of researchers from Western Europe and USA, who dealt with social change during the Roman period, devoted their research to the deconstruction of the term romanization. This debate has sometimes become more political than archaeological in Western Europe, especially in the UK. The term romanization was in some cases declared taboo, and the ultimate goal was its complete abandonment. The proposed alternatives were often only descriptive or insufficiently tested. Nevertheless, a significant shift was made in the way of perceiving the possible relations between Rome and the conquered communities and their integration into the Roman Empire. Unlike the rest of Europe, these tendencies have only recently reached Serbian archaeology. When it comes to Serbian archaeology that deals with the early Roman Empire and the conquest of the Balkans, it relies heavily on the cultural-historical paradigm and the idea of ethnicity. It is the legacy of the past authority figures, that were prominent in the second half of the 20th century. So the question I would like to ask is – Is theory of Romanization the best answer when it comes to cultural transmission in the Roman Empire, or is there something better?