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'The Roman Family' in Recent Research: State of the Question

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In the past two decades of rapid expansion,the study of ‘the Roman family’ has developed from its early focus on the city of Rome and on legal, literary and epigraphical sources to a wider geographical canvas and to more extensive use of archaeological material. The whole range of sources is now being applied to particular problems, providing different perspectives and a better chance of contextualising specific details. Of the new methodologies available, demography and the archaeology of domestic space are proving most productive. Questions most frequently debated are the Romans’ concept of ‘the family’ and the nature of family relationships. There is a growing recognition that regional and cultural differentiation must be taken into account: generalisations about ‘the Mediterranean world’ or even ‘Greco-Roman culture’ are seldom useful. Similarly, regional differentiations in early Christianity are being recognised: Christian communities were likely to share many of the characteristics of the city or area in which they were developing. This makes the growing dialogue between Romanists and Early Christian scholars profitable and stimulating, and topics of particular fertilisation are those of family relationships and domestic space.


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