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Books of the month

January - 2023

PUBLIC SLAVES

Slaves of the People: A Political and Social History of Roman Public Slavery (Franz Steiner Verlag, 2022, 489 pages, 80 euros), is a monograph by Franco Luciani on the uses of public slaves, the development and consolidation of this form of slavery from the Roman Republic to Late Antiquity. Through a holistic approach, the author encompasses the definition and specificities of public slavery, the transformation of the legal status of public slaves, the roles of these slaves in communities and their relationships with authorities, manumission and public freedmen. Through a wide corpus of epigraphic, literary, archaeological and iconographic sources, cataloged in appendices in the book, the author also addresses these issues in Rome and other Roman cities in the West, noting how the functions attributed to these slaves could vary from place to place.

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ARCHAEOLOGY AND LABOR

Why Those Who Shovel Are Silent: A History of Local Archaeological Knowledge and Labor (Louisville, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 2021, paperback $26.95), by Allison Mickel, is a fresh take on Near Eastern archeology. Through interviews and photographs, the author addresses how local workers, responsible for manual labor, relate to archaeologists, the sites, the importance of the local community in the excavations and the knowledge of the workers themselves. Differences in the hiring and integration of these workers result in varied experiences, such as distrust of foreign archaeologists, refusal to share knowledge, the feeling of not knowing what they are excavating or an interpretation contrary to that of archaeologists, based on the traditions of the community. Overall, the book offers a differentiated view of archeology and demonstrates the importance of integrating local communities into excavations.

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