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Title: Rural baths and bathing : socio-cultural interactions in the Romano-British countryside
Author: Savani, Giacomo
ISNI:       0000 0004 6348 767X
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2017
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In the Roman Empire, an appreciation of baths and bathing was among the few common socio-cultural traits shared by people with the most diverse cultural and social backgrounds. Perhaps because of their popularity in antiquity and their archaeological distinctiveness, antiquarians, as well as many modern scholars, have tended to take for granted the function of these buildings and, more importantly, their socio-cultural significance. This is particularly true in a provincial context such as Britannia, where Romanists have been primarily interested in military and public baths, neglecting the variegated field of rural bathing. Focusing on two specific regions, South-East and Central South-West England, this doctoral research reviews in detail the appearance and diffusion of privately-owned rural baths, explaining their chronological and regional variations, their functioning, costs, decoration, and social implications. By looking at this type of built material culture, this thesis aims to contribute to and expand current understanding of the cultural and social changes taking place in Britain following Roman conquest and annexation and during the consolidation of Roman rule. In particular, I have investigated the role that bathing practices had in constructing a ‘middle ground’ between the newcomers and the natives in South-East England and the reasons behind the early appearance of villa baths in this region, sometimes decades before the construction of their urban counterparts. Furthermore, I addressed the later fortunes of private bathing with a special emphasis on Gloucestershire, in the context of the exceptional prosperity experienced in and displayed by this region during the 4th century, and its role within the increased elite competition that characterised late antiquity. Instead of viewing rural baths as merely functional buildings prerogative of the elite, this study demonstrates that their socio-cultural implications were very complex. The archaeological evidence suggests that some of them might have been accessible to at least a part of the rural population living in the surroundings of villas, potentially influencing and affecting the lives and identities of a far larger group of people than previously thought.
Supervisor: Scott, Sarah ; Christie, Neil Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available