Ellen Swift, Jo Stoner, and April Pudsey, A Social Archaeology of Roman and Late Antique Egypt: Artefacts of Everyday Life, Oxford University Press, 2021. 480 Pages, 234x153mm. ISBN: 9780198867340
The first in-depth study of the society and culture of Roman and late antique Egypt that uses everyday artefacts as its principal source of evidence, this book transforms our understanding of many aspects of its society and culture. It represents a fundamental reference work for scholars, with much new and essential information on a wide range of artefacts, many of which are found not only in Egypt, but also in the wider Roman and late antique world. It also sets out a new interpretation of everyday life and aspects of social relations in Egypt in the period under study. By taking a social archaeology approach, it contributes substantial insights into everyday practices and their social meanings in the past. Artefacts from UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology are the principal source of evidence. Most of these objects have not been the subject of any previous research. The book integrates the close study of artefact features with other sources of evidence, including papyri and visual material. There are two principal parts to the book, Part I: ‘Exploring the Social Functions of Dress Objects’, and Part II: ‘The Domestic Realm and Everyday Experience’. An important theme is the life course, and how both dress-related artefacts and ordinary functional objects construct age and gender-related status, and facilitate appropriate social relations and activities. There is also a particular focus on wider social experience in the domestic context. Other topics covered include economic and social changes across the period studied.