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Beyond Functionalism: A Quantitative Survey and Semiotic Reading of Hadrian's Wall

HARTIS, RICHARD,GEOFFREY (2010) Beyond Functionalism: A Quantitative Survey and Semiotic Reading of Hadrian's Wall. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Hadrian’s Wall is perhaps one of the best studied, but east understood,Roman monuments in Britain. Traditional interpretations have sought to identify one underlying principle to the Wall’s function. Similarly, the Wall’s purpose has often been interpreted as solely functional, with either military or ‘customs barrier’ arguments proposed. However, military theories are at odds with both general Roman practice of the time, which sought to defeat enemies in the field, and the Wall’s generally low level of soldiery per kilometre. Customs barrier arguments cannot account for the seemingly illogical placement of structures along the line of the Wall. Furthermore, both these interpretations are connected to a broader dialogue between the Victorian era, which saw the rise of Wall-scholarship, and the modern world which effectively excluded the Roman context within which the Wall was constructed.

It is the question of the Wall’s intent and purpose, as well as the structure’s place in the wider Roman world, that this thesis explores. This necessitates an innovative combination of techniques including historiography, theory, quantitative survey and modelling. A theoretical standpoint is adopted that considers the construction from a symbolic perspective as an explicit means for understanding the original purpose of the Wall. Quantitative survey is used to reveal the full extent of the structure’s symbolic ower, the results of which can also evaluate dominant functional theories. Importantly, in emphasising theory and the Roman context alongside traditional functional models, this thesis reconnects the Wall to its original context within the Roman world. This research aims to stimulate debate on both the purpose of the Wall and its place in the wider Roman world, whilst also creating a framework for using quantitative theory to assess symbolic potential.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Hadrian's Wall, landscape, archaeology, Roman, quantitative survey, semiotics, theory
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2010
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Jul 2010 11:51

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