#28 & #29 BIG Podcast – Hadrian’s Wall, Frontiers of the Roman Empire and Border Studies (Part One)

featuring archeologist David J. Breeze, British archaeologist and scholar of Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine’s Wall, and the Roman army

The history of the Roman Empire is intertwined with the control of the entire Mediterranean Sea and reached at its peak 5 million km² for 60 million inhabitants. The empire was heterogeneous and expanded through conquests and was maintained through a network of frontiers and a system of friendly, allies or “client” states (reges amicique populi Romani). Due to rebellions from some tribes as the Brigantes, and after having visited the Danube and Rhine frontiers, the Roman Emperor Hadrian (reigned 117–138) came to Britannia in July 122 BC. By ordering the construction of the Wall (between 122 – and maybe before according to certain authors – and 127 AD), Hadrian put an end to the territorial expansion of the Roman Empire. In short, Hadrian adopted a policy of protecting frontiers without expansion.

What functions did the borders of the Roman Empire have? What functions did Hadrian’s Wall have? Can the frontiers of the Roman Empire be considered strict separations between the civilized (Roman) world and the world of the barbarians (“qui barbaros Romanosque Divideret”)? How is archeology an interesting and relevant discipline for Border Studies? We will discuss all this and get answers with archeologist David J. Breeze.

Listen to #28 (Part One): Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube.

Listen to #29 (Part Two): Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube.

David J. Breeze is an archaeologist, teacher, and scholar of Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine Wall, and the Roman army. He has been Chair of the International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies and President of several archaeological societies in the UK. He was Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Scotland from 1989 to 2005, and subsequently led the team which successfully nominated the Antonine Wall as a World Heritage Site in 2008. David has excavated on both Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall and written several books on these frontiers, on frontiers elsewhere in the Roman Empire and on the Roman army.

#28 & #29 BIG Podcast – Hadrian’s Wall, Frontiers of the Roman Empire and Border Studies (Part One)