Surveillance, visibility, and the colonial encounter in the early Roman central Alentejo, Portugal: 100 B.C.E. -- 100 C.E.
Williams, Joey Lee
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This project offers a comprehensive analysis of the role of surveillance in the Luso-Roman colonial encounter in the central Alentejo region of Portugal. This region remains a relatively understudied part of the ancient world, and questions of surveillance have only recently begun to be posed of archaeological material. This analysis refigures the theory of the panopticon, where surveillance represents an expression of control by the powerful meant to alter the behavior of the subjugated. Power in a colonial encounter is rarely a unidirectional process. Instead, it is a negotiation, often fraught with violence and insecurity, particularly in the negotiation of control over territory and resources. This project presents an archaeological analysis of a colonized landscape that recognizes that the expression of power through surveillance is not unidirectional, and that responses to colonialism may likewise take advantage of panoptic power or seek to subvert it. Consideration is first given to the broader environmental, topographical, historical, and archaeological contexts of this region in order to define the nature of the colonial encounter between Romans and the indigenous peoples of western Iberia between the first century B.C.E. and first century C.E. A catalogue of fortins and recintos-torre is also provided. Each of these structures was occupied during the late first century B.C.E., and their archaeological remains provide superb indicators for both the early Roman presence in this region as well as local responses to it. One of these small fortified structures, Caladinho, was excavated as part of this project between 2010 and 2013. The information garnered from this excavation is presented here, much of it for the first time. Caladinho's material remains permit, through their comparison with similar structures in the central Alentejo, the interpretation of the colonized landscape of the first century B.C.E. The importance of the fortins and recintos-torre as both a means of reorganizing the landscape under colonial control or resisting that control are highlighted by Caladinho's brief occupation. This chronology, established through the analysis of its ceramic assemblage, extends only into the first years of the first century C.E., the period when Roman villae were founded, coloniae and municipia established, and imperial mines and quarries began to operate. At the heart of this project is the analysis of the relative topographic prominence of the fortins and recintos-torre. These small structures are each strategically positioned within the landscape to either take advantage of surveillance or to avoid it. Geographic information systems analysis of these sites within their local topography reveals the potential visibility or invisibility available at each location. What follows from this analysis is a discussion of the areas under surveillance, particularly the traversable routes between the marble quarries of the Estremoz Anticline, the newly founded Roman urban centers, and the Guadiana River. Next, this same analysis is performed for the major settlements of the central Alentejo during the first century C.E. in order to demonstrate how the use of surveillance in this region changed following the end of organized resistance to the nascent Roman Empire. This project concludes with a theory of surveillance in Roman colonial contexts. The use of surveillance in the colonization of the central Altentejo is compared to its use in other corners of the ancient world. The ultimate aim of these comparisons, and of this dissertation as a whole, it is the creation of a typology of surveillance systems used on the margins of empire as well as an understanding of how visibility, or a lack thereof, might subvert empire in these same colonial spaces.