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Aaron Brown

adbrown@berkeley.edu
Office Hours (Fall 2020): Tuesday/Thursday 10:00-11:00 AM & by appointment (via Zoom)

Research Areas

Research Interests: Classical art and archaeology; Roman and Etruscan/Italic material culture; Pompeian studies; foodways and the archaeology of consumption; household archaeology; social boundary formation and transculturation; visual culture; urbanism.

As a student of material culture, my research aims to elucidate the manifold reflexive relationships forged between humans and objects. In particular, I seek a better understanding of how the ancient Romans and other Italic peoples engaged with the material world which they inhabited. How did individuals – especially those not in power, whose presence may not be so archeologically visible – forge collective identities through material culture? How were objects used in the negotiation of the self and in one’s self-presentation? What can objects of everyday use tell us about social structures in the past? These are a few of the basic questions informing my approach to Roman antiquity and ones which also underpin my dissertation. An exploration of practice and embodied knowledge, my dissertation considers how the inhabitants of first-century CE Pompeii prepared their daily meals and how household economics, sociocultural affiliations, and individual tastes influenced their choice of cooking techniques.  

I have excavated/conducted fieldwork at the following sites in Italy: Rofalco, Cetamura del Chianti, Cerveteri, Morgantina, Oplontis, and Pompeii. I have been a member of the Pompeii Artifact Life History Project since 2014 and continue to conduct research at the site for my dissertation. In 2018, I served as a Mellon Curatorial Intern at the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia in Rome, where I assisted with collections management and public outreach while also conducting preliminary research for my dissertation.

In addition to studying ancient culinary traditions, I also have an abiding interest in the regional cuisines of modern-day Italy and love attempting to make obscure pasta shapes a mano in my spare time.