Introduction

Dividing artefacts into functional groups is a method utilized by Stanley South in his study of sites in Colonial America. Other archaeologists have used this method as well, including some fairly recent work in Roman Archaeology (e.g. Cool et al 1995, and Gardner 2001). By grouping artefacts into functional groups, in addition to groups formed by material or appearance, we can analyze behavior in the cultural system under study. Because standardized functional groups have not been universally agreed upon by archaeologists, I used South's groups as a starting point and expanded them with additions appropriate for a Roman military site. Functional groups are used in this study to confirm our understanding of the behaviors which took place in the different sectors of Roman military sites, or to change and refine that understanding as well as provide a platform to ask further questions.

Assigning artefacts to functional groups can be problematic. The same artefact, for instance a knife, can have different functions, for example in the kitchen or on the war field. This must be kept in mind when examining functional group results. In an attempt to alleviate this possible problem, artefacts with obviously more than one function, once again a knife for example, were assigned to more than one functional group. Currently only the first functional group assignment is used in the computations on this website, but eventually the ability to use the other assignments will be coded.

The functional groups Decorative Architecture (DA), Animal Remains (ANML) and Not Roman were not used to compute percentages or percentage means, and their totals were not included in the overall total of artefacts from any site. When Animal Remains are collected and studied during an archaeological investigation they often end up overpowering the other functional groups in sheer numbers; much as the Kitchen/Food functional group does. This would not be a problem normally, but Animal remains are very frequently never collected, studied, or included at all in an excavation report. Therefore inclusion of this group would radically skew numbers for a few sites, and not at all for most of the others. Decorative Architecture is not included because the functional group is somewhat arbitrary and once again, its elements are not always included in an excavation report. For example, the finding of nails will often be mentioned, but the numbers of those nails will never be given. And Not Roman is not included for obvious reasons.

The problems mentioned above with the Animal Remains category occur with the Kitchen/Food category as well. Some archaeological reports detail every ceramic find in their artefact catalogs. Others only mention weights, or rim sherds, or other kinds of summaries. And still other say nothing beyond mentioning one or two outstanding or otherwise noteworthy ceramic exemplars. In order to include every bit of information possible the type of stratification of the artefacts was given several categories and these were included in figuring the functional group numbers. These categories are 'All' which includes all the functional group's items from the sector and functional group; 'Strat' which includes only those items in the group which were found stratified; and 'Good' which includes stratified items in the group from excavation reports with artefact catalogs which were considered complete (i.e. every artefact of that type from the site was included in the catalog instead of only a representative sample).

Functional Groups and Their Sub-Groups

Functional Groups and Their Sub-Groups
Group Sub-Group Examples
CL: clothing Clth: clothing leather clothing, textile clothing, neckbands, etc
Shoe: shoes shoes, hobnails from shoes, etc
Jewl: jewelry rings, bangles, intaglios, hair ornaments, metal armlets, stone armlets, brooches, charms, inlays, hair pins
Oth: other leather ties, furs, toggles, purses, bags, satchels, belts, buckles, button-loop fasteners, identify tags, cloak fasteners, etc
CO: commerce none coins, weights, steelyards
HC: Health Care Wash: items for cleaning basins, strigils, jars for water, soap, bath flasks...
Body: grooming items cosmetics, unguent jars, perfume jars/bottles, mirrors, brushes, combs, tweezers, ear picks, nail cutters, ligulae, etc
Surg: surgical surgical instruments, etc
Bone human bone (animal bone has its own group)
KF: Kitchen/Food Food: food remains grains, seeds, nuts, etc
Prep: Preparation items mortaria, cooking vessels, mixing bowls, querns, cheese presses, meat hooks, etc
Stor: Storage items amphorae, large jars, etc
Eat: Items for eating dishes, bowls, spoons, wood bowls, platters
Drink: Items for drinking cups, glasses, beakers, bottles, small jugs, etc
Knif: knives, blades knives, whetstones, etc
RG: Religious At: altars altars, dedications
Tm: tombstones
Bur: burials
Oth: other priapii, tazza, figurines, obvious religious offerings, curse tablets, etc
ML: military Weap: weapons spears, arrows, bows, swords, daggers, slings, sling bullets, arrowheads, catapult bolts, sheaths, shields, etc
Apprl: armor helmets, armor, military belts, belt fittings, etc
Hous: housing tents, tent spikes, pegs
TR: Travel Cart cart parts, wheels, spokes, etc
Harn: harness bits, mountings, etc
Farr: farrier items farrier tools, horseshoes, etc
Oth: other ox goads, tethers, curry-combs
UT: Utilitarian Fire charcoal and coal, charred wood
Lmp: lamps, lighting lamps of various sorts, candle holders, etc
Leath: leather working scraps of leather for working, or leather byproducts, smoothers
Writ: writing tools wax tablets, stylii, palettes, etc
Furn: furniture furnishings, hooks, stakes, bindings for furniture, etc
Text: textile and clothing creation loom weights, looms, spindle whorls, flax and wool combs, carding combs, needles, shears, bobbins, pins
Metl: Metal working tuyeres, slag, furnaces, anvils, ingots, bars, billets, whetstones, etc
Glss: glass working cullet, slag, etc
Wood: wood working adze, axes planks, planes, scraps
Game: gaming items counters, dice, play toys, dolls, game boards, toy axes, whistles
Antl: antler/bone working worked antlers, bones, etc
Clay: clay working clamps for pottery repair, etc
Cons: construction ground prep items, rakes, trowels, etc
Tool: tools tools, tool frags, dividers, plumb bobs, pincers, bone tools
Stud1: studs, discs, rivets, other small fastenings
Oth: other items rope, lock/padlock, buckets, barrels, bungs, pulley, keys, ladder, dodecahedron, handle, baby feeding bottle, bells, etc
Unassn: unassignable Metl: metals corroded or too small to identify
Glss: glass too small or otherwise unidentifiable
Leath: leather frags that can not be assigned
Ston: stone worked stone, pebbles with unknown function
Cer: ceramics pieces of ceramics worked into items of unknown function
Wood: wood pieces of unknown function
Bone: Anml, Antl worked bones of animals or antlers which are too small to be identified or usage unknown
ANML: animal remains Dog
Cat
Horse
Ox2
Cattl: Cattle
Deer
Pig includes boars
Sh/Gt sheep or goat
Fowl chicken, bird, goose, duck
Fox
Sea: sealife shells, whelks, fish bones
Oth: other hedgehog, unknown ruminant, etc
DA: decorative architecture Stat: statues statues
Ins: inscriptions inscriptions, tables, graffiti
Carv: carvings carvings, worked stones
Oth: other nails3, window glass4, wooden beams, bolts, t-bars, l-bars, clamps, etc
Not Roman item is not roman prehistoric lithics, medieval coins, etc

1 This subgroup contains items that probably belong to the clothing, harness, weapons or armor subgroups. However, the exact attribution of the items in the 'stud' sub-group is unknown since many fittings/fastenings were interchangeable.

2 This subgroup was created because some excavation reports differentiate between 'ox' and 'cattle'. It is combined with cattle for the purposes of this study.

3 Nails are included here, rather than under construction or woodworking (utilitarian group), because many archaeological reports, while mentioning these items, do not provide detailed catalogs or information such as quantity and location of nail finds. Instead, presence or absence is noted.

4 Window glass is often recorded in excavation reports as simply presence or absence, with no quantities given.