Current and Future Work

Presented on this page are a few examples for using the database to explore various aspects of the distributions of finds from Roman military sites, and what those distributions may mean. Some of these examples are being worked on now, others are slated to be examined in the future. The researcher is extremely interested in having others suggest ideas, questions, do work on entering data, and whatever else. Therefore, if you have any suggestions, ideas, questions, comments, want to volunteer to help, or anything else, please contact the researcher, or the author, or the webminister.

Information about current work on the database and website is listed in the sidebar to the right. Mentioned below are several current and new goals for this study, including additions to the database, new questions that might be answered by examining the database, and more.

Expanding the Database

One of the aims of the researcher/author is to expand the database with data from more sites on the northern frontiers in Roman Britain, and, hopefully, other frontiers around the Empire. Examination of aggregated archaeological results, such as formed in the database, can answer questions about the average Roman military site and activities undertaken in Roman military sites, and how specific sites adhere to, or differ from, that average and those activities.

Continuing to Digitize Older Excavation Find Reports

Putting the artefact reports from older excavations into electronic form with a database of finds from those excavations was one of the goals of this study. Currently this database is fairly small, but it is hoped with time more excavation reports, both those from decades (or even a century if possible) ago and those more recent, will be added. It is hoped this will help make the finds reports from the older excavations more accessible to modern researchers, in a modern, computerized format.

Some of the aspects of older excavation reports which will unfortunately limit how many older reports can be put into the database are the age and quality of the artefact reports. If the excavation(s) and subsequent report(s), happened before the development of modern artefact studies, the development of ceramic typologies, and/or the development of the theory of stratigraphy, the report will probably be extremely difficult to add to the database. However, if later studies of the artefacts, and/or reworking of the excavation findings has happened, the site, and its results, can be used in the database.

Adding Military Sites from non-British Areas of the Empire

Right now the database, and the website, only concern military sites from the northern frontiers of the Roman province of Britannia. An important extension of the database and study will involve adding sites from other frontiers and areas of the Empire. The researcher would greatly appreciate suggestions about where to start with this, and help with doing the actual data collection and entry. Please contact the researcher if you are willing to help.

Working with the Database Results

The trends in artefact distribution, as percentage means, over the various sectors of the AP Composite Fort are discussed briefly on this website (see the Results page). However, more insights can probably be gained if further examination of the database and results is done.

Examining Differences in the Period Composite Forts

The AP Composite Fort is examined on the Results page, but the other occupation periods' Composite Forts are not. This needs to be done, the forts need to be compared and contrasted. There are, of course, caveats. Some of the occupation period Composite Forts are made from very little data (see the 5th Century Composite Fort, for example). This means the distribution of functional groups across the fort is extremely tentative. More data from other sites with occupations in that period need to be added to the database. However, comparisons and contrasts can still be made.

As an example, the result for the Commander's House sector in the Severan Composite fort, Commerce functional group, is exceptionally high compared to other periods (80% mean GOOD stratigraphic context). This result is also probably skewed. They come from one site. If after further study other Severan sites show this result, then it would be more believable that a fair amount of coins, or coin making items, are found in the Commander's House sector in Severan times. In that case, a reason for such a disparity should be sought. The same holds true if, after examining other Severan sites, only the one site (Carpow) shows such a large amount of commerce in the Commander's House. If so, what made Carpow so different?

Comparing the Results from Individual Sites to the Composite Fort

With the new ways of accessing the database now available on this website on the Sites pages, which allow the results for each site to be selected, differences between the sites, and those between a site and the Composite Fort (AP or a specific occupation period), can be explored.

The researcher/author first compared an individual site, Bearsden, to the Composite Fort at the suggestion of David Breeze. The results are available in his book about his excavations at Bearsden (in print and open access - see the publications page). This exploration of the differences between an individual site and the Composite Fort was productive, and the researcher has been doing the same with respect to other individual sites since receiving Dr. Breeze's suggestion.

Other comparisons can be made between the percentages of functional groups from individual sites, and their sectors/buildings, with possibly interesting results. For example, the researcher noticed, when examining the distribution of the Transport functional group and its sub-groups, that the differences in that sub-groups distributions may possible indicate equitate barracks in which the cavalrymen lived with their horses. This possibility will be examined more thoroughly in the future, and hopefully a paper will be produced, if it turns out the link between Transport sub-group items and equitate barracks is plausible.

Other Research Questions

The methods used in this study, based on artefact functional groups and an idealized, standardized 'site' made up of sectors, can illuminate the life of the inhabitants of other types of sites beyond military sites, such as villas, forums, temples and temple complexes, villages, etc. It is likely that new insights about the usage of such sites can be gained by doing this.

The database itself can be used, perhaps with other databases and collections now available online, for other types of study. The database has type, form, fabric, find location, for of all the artefacts from the excavations studied. These can be used for examining aspects beyond the functional. See, for example, the examination of the spread of ceramic type (mortaria, samian, etc)across the Composite Fort which will soon be added to the website. A paper will be written about this examination as well.