Toward a Typology of Roman Prisons

Toward a Typology of Roman Prisons
Dwinelle 370
November 09, 2021
Mark Letteney (USC)
5:00 - 6:30

The Roman empire was a carceral state. Places of detention dotted the landscape, including civic prisons on municipal fora, prisons for gladiators and the condemned inside amphitheaters, places of military detention within castra on the edges of the empire, and workers' prisons attached to mines and quarries, importing labor and exporting raw material back to the centers of civic life. An overly credulous reading of prescriptive legal materials, however, has left the topic of Roman incarceration woefully understudied. This talk will sketch a typology of Roman carceral spaces, from public, to military, to private and ad hoc, arguing that prisons were ubiquitous in antiquity, and remain visible in the archaeological record.

Mark Letteney is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southern California. His work covers the history of epistemology in Late Antiquity, the history of incarceration, and the archaeology of Roman occupation.