Workshop: Visualising Global, Local and Glocal in Roman Archaeology


KNIR – Royal Netherlands Institute in Roma
Via Omero 10
00196 Roma

Data evento
3 February 2023

The theoretical concept of ‘glocalization’, or the refraction of a global phenomenon through local entities, has received increasing attention in Roman archaeology recently. This framework has been increasingly used by researchers as an analytical tool to further understand how global transformations (e.g., material, symbolic and visual) happened differently in discrete regions of the Roman world. Despite the recurring use of this concept in archaeological studies in the last fifteen years, theorists have argued for a need to establish a defined framework to be applied to the Roman world.

Within this context, this workshop aims to contribute to such a debate, bringing together scholars who have worked within the fields of globalization and glocalization through their own specialties. Above all, it exemplifies that the phenomenon of glocalization is present across (and applicable to) a wide range of specialist fields in Roman archaeology. Papers of 20 minutes will be used to create a forum for discussion, reflecting on the strengths and limitations of this framework and the diverse spectrum of glocalization visible in Roman material culture.


Speakers (the final timeline of papers will be provided close to the event)

Prof. Rebecca Sweetman (British School of Athens/University of St Andrews)

  • Title: ‘Local Islands in a Global World: the case of Crete and the Cyclades in the Roman Empire’
  • Abstract: Crete and the Cyclades were key, but unassuming, economic pivots in the Roman Empire. Their overall inconspicuousness is in part due to the diversity of participation in the wider commercial networks. In this paper, I will examine the archaeology to reveal the variety of relationships that local islanders had with each other and global players in the Roman Empire.


Prof. Patrizio Pensabene (Sapienza University of Rome)

  • Title: ‘Marble and stone architectural decoration in the Roman Empire: notes on the local traditions and their relationship with the ‘official art’’
  • Abstract: The settlements of the empire, especially those in which local stones and workshops continued to be used in architecture, tended to preserve the traditions at the basis of their formation while reflecting the artistic and decorative fashions of the official styles almost always linked to the use of marble: these were accepted to a greater or lesser extent from time to time and caused clearly distinguishable changes. For the Late Republican and Early Imperial periods, we conducted studies of a number of cities in the interior of Roman Hispania and Gaul, in which local stone was predominantly used: the aim was to recognise the original architectural cultures that determined the formation of local and regional styles in these provinces as well as others. For the middle and late imperial period, we have dealt with the African provinces, Egypt, Cyrenaica, and Cyprus, where we have found the continuity of decorative architectural traditions formed in the Hellenistic period clearly recognisable from the official ones of the Empire.


Dr. Miko Flohr (Leiden University)

  • Title: ‘Imperial glocalization? Understanding innovation in Roman construction practice’
  • Abstract: This paper confronts the framework of glocalization with some developments in construction technology in the Roman world that, on the one hand, can be better understood through a glocalizing perspective, while on the other hand may also be taken to reveal some limits to the framework of globalization and its derivatives, of which ‘glocalization’ is one.  The history of building technology in the Roman world is often told, teleologically, as a progressive affair, without a lot of concern for the ways in which new practices that emerged in the context of imperial hegemony and spread through Roman imperial networks ‘landed’ locally. In practice, rather than a linear ‘road to the Pantheon’, the evolution of building practice must be seen as defined by continuous negotiation between global practices and innovations and local traditions and materials, with trial, error and loose ends along the way.  Using examples from several localities, this paper will argue that the notion of glocalization offers an excellent starting point for understanding these developments. At the same time, however, it will argue that the dramatic developments in building technology that can be observed in the last centuries BCE and the first century CE cannot be understood through the lenses of globalization alone, and need a more historically precise interpretative framework – imperialization.


Dr. Javier Domingo (Pontifical University of the Holy Cross)

  • Title: ‘The reflection of imperial architecture in the provincial forums of the West’
  • Abstract: Rome’s role as a center for the generation and diffusion of imperial “fashions” is well known, as is clearly shown, for example, in the diffusion of certain imperial architectural models in the main cities of the West. However, this diffusion did not always result in the production of identical copies of the models of the Urbs, but rather in the production of imitations and adaptations of these models to the specific local realities. We shall see how these adaptations could be peculiar, i.e. present in specific groups, or general, spread over a more or less wide geographical area, sometimes even going beyond provincial boundaries. The reasons for these variants may be many, such as a specific desire to depart from the official models, the survival of local traditions or techniques, or even the need to adapt the models to particular topographical situations.


Dr. Emlyn Dodd (British School of Rome)

  • Title: ‘Visualising the glocal through Roman agricultural production’
  • Abstract: Agricultural production underpinned and permeated Roman lifeways. The technologies used in these processes were distributed not only around the Mediterranean region but also across the Iranian plateau and into northern Europe. Facilities used to produce wine and olive oil leave particularly visible traces in the archaeological record and thus provide key opportunities to observe glocalisation processes. I will explore how insularity and hyperconnectivity shaped both global and microregional production habits and processes for commodities that were used in Roman daily life, religion, medicine, cooking, the economy and more.


Dr. Rubén Montoya González (Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome)

  • Title: ‘The global, the local and the in-between: glocal images in Hispania
  • Abstract: In this paper I will explore how, beyond the seemingly globalised visual koine characterising the Roman world, lies a more complex process in which local agency is an active factor at play in the adoption and adaption of iconographies. I will achieve this by applying the glocalization framework to different case studies from the Iberian Peninsula, demonstrating how the regionalism and heterogeneity usually attributed to the late Roman artistic world were, in fact, present in earlier periods in this provincial territory.


Dr. Olivia Reyes Hernando (IE University)

  • Title: ‘Castraurbs et rure. Glocalization processes in archaeological contexts from the Douro Basin (Hispania)’
  • Abstract: This paper will analyse glocalization processes in the Northern plateau of the Iberian Peninsula during the Roman period through three study cases registered in archaeological sites. 1) Herrera de Pisuerga (Palencia): the presence of an ancient Legio IIII Macedonica’s military camp in times of the conquest of the North of Hispania shows the opportunity to value the globalization phenomenon and the effect it had on the nearby territory. 2) The city of Termes (Tiermes, Soria): Its peculiar landscape and environment determine glocalising practices after its conquest by the Romans and until the Middle Ages. 3. Cauca and the suburban villa of Las Pizarras (Coca, Segovia): This ancient ciuitas, founded by another Celtiberian tribe, the Vaccaei, shows throughout the centuries how their people, firstly, adapted the Roman culture and, after, in the 4th-century AD, became -probably due to the influence of the nearest villa of Las Pizarras- an important glocalization centre for the interpretation of the Eastern fashions and constructive trends registered in the surrounding Roman uillae.


Dr. Beatrice Fochetti (University of Florence)

  • Title: ‘Glocal representations within the architecture in South Etruria: Falerii Novi and nearby areas’
  • Abstract: In the Ager Faliscus, tuff dominated the geological landscape and its innate nature of a border area between Etruscan and Italics cultures, influenced the process of assimilation of the roman architectural models, introduced in the Faliscan area after the roman conquest in the middle 3rd century BC. Starting from recent research on the monumental architecture at Falerii Novi, this paper will discuss evidence of urban glocalization in Ager Faliscus and more broadly in South Etruria, between the middle republican age and the imperial time.


Dr. Alice Poletto (University of Oxford/British School of Rome)

  • Title: ‘Ship global, sail local: reconstructing ancient routes through the evidence offered by port-villas’
  • Abstract: Ancient navigation rarely involved direct sailing on the open sea: ships and sailors were often constrained to coastal journeys. Sailing routes in the ancient Mediterranean have been compared to beaded strings, the beads being the manifold harbours and anchorages where ships could find shelter along their journeys. This paper investigates a sequence of port-villa compounds in imperial possession on the coast of Etruria, which underwent remarkable building activity under Trajan. My purpose is to offer a possible reconstruction of the route(s) on which these villas lay, in order to evaluate their role as shelters allowing coastal navigation and discuss their function both on the local and on the Mediterranean scale.


Max Peers, MA (Brown University)

  • Title: ‘Building Glocally: Construction Communities in the Roman Central Mediterranean’
  • Abstract: In this paper, I bring together case studies from several construction projects in the cities of Imperial Roman Sicily, Sardinia, and Tunisia, in order to analyse the constructions’ design, construction method, and use within larger urban settings. I will demonstrate that a careful examination of the construction process and product, through the lens of “glocalization,” allows us to better understand the contributions and identities of the individuals involved in the construction process, and how these communities situated themselves and engaged with each other within the glocal Roman Mediterranean.