Programme in Classical Studies
Women Real and Imagined in Roman-era North Africa: Graves, Inscriptions, Finds, and Images from Leptiminus (Lamta, Tunisia)
Prof. Lea Stirling
(University of Manitoba)
Thursday, 23 September 2021, 5.30–7.00 pm
What can we know about the lives of women in Roman-era North Africa? The question is complicated by the variety that status, wealth, and ethnic background would have created, compounded by the colonial setting. Moreover, different types of evidence – skeletal data, epigraphy, and artistic images – are difficult to combine. This paper uses evidence from a single site (Leptiminus, Tunisia) to seek lived experience and identity, including aspects of health, class experience, work, and ideals of beauty. Graves provide some of the richest information, with skeletons providing evidence about health and diet. Among the two dozen female names preserved at Leptiminus are two non-Latin names, Rerricha and Maziva. A handful of slaves and freed slaves are distinguished in epitaphs. A few tools of traditional women’s work survive. Statuettes and mosaics show ideals of beauty. Although the results inevitably point in different directions, the range in types of data makes it possible to ask a wider spectrum of questions than is possible from one form of evidence alone.
The seminar will take place on the Keele campus of York University, and will be simultaneously streamed via Zoom. To ensure the seminar room does not become overcrowded, we ask that you RSVP to Ben Kelly by Wednesday, 22 September at firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating whether you would like to attend the event in person or via Zoom. When you RSVP, you will be provided with the room details or the Zoom link, depending on your chosen method of attendance.