Published: 03/12/23

Special Issue Editors: Thomas Derrick and Giacomo Savani

The senses were functionally significant to all aspects of Roman life and played a central role in private and public events, from religious ceremonies to gladiatorial fights. While the sense of sight has dominated archaeological practice and theory for decades, scholars are now keen to address the ancient sensorium as a whole. The so-called ‘sensory turn’ in Classics/Classical Archaeology has generated a raft of high-profile publications and conference sessions in recent years, but the allure of literary sources and high-profile archaeological sites in Latium and Campania has been strong.

This special issue, however, focusses on the sensory implications of archaeological material from a region so-far neglected by sensory studies: the ‘Roman North’ (including modern France, western Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and immediately adjacent areas). Our contributors discuss the sensory impact that the influx of external material culture, behaviours, urbanism, and populations had on indigenous communities in the northern provinces, reconstructing complex processes of negotiation, resistance, and adaptation. Our authors also discuss their evocation of the Roman North, in fiction, in museums, and in the classroom.

This special issue aimed to use the impetus of the ‘sensory turn’ to re-invigorate debates and (re)apply approaches from other disciplines related to embodied sensory experience in the ‘Roman North’, for example phenomenology, sense of place, sensorial assemblage theory, design/craft theory, and other approaches more traditionally rooted in anthropology, geography, sociology, science and technology studies, and urban planning.