Library Dissertation Showcase

Is the current way in which gender is observed in burial archaeology limiting to the study of social identity in Roman Britain?

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

The study of social identity in Roman Britain has been limited by previous approaches within burial archaeology. The previous focus of research relied on the relationship between biological sex and social gender identity. This study focused on the separation of biological sex from socially constructed gender. A further division between gender identity and gender expression was noted. This was vital to the study as gender expression could be easily observed throughout the evidence, whereas gender identity could not. Previous approaches to social identity within burial archaeology have been limiting to the study of gender within Roman Britain. The possibility of genders outside of the binary being present in Roman Britain was intriguing. The focus therefore looked into the identification of burial objects being ‘androgenous’ as well as the scale between masculinity and femininity. This study challenged previous theories in relation to gender within burial archaeology. These were used in conjunction with contemporary theories surrounding gender. It was concluded that the current practice relating to the study of gender was in fact limiting to the study of Roman Britain. Evidence from the Northern Cemetery at Lankhills was used during this study to prove the effectiveness of applying contemporary gender theory to past studies. The inclusion of contemporary theory in the study of social identity in Roman Britain has allowed for new conclusions to be made. These may also benefit other studies relating to other aspects of social identity.

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