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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Following the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean basin, a period of cultural change swept across much of Western Europe as native communities began to rapidly adopt many elements of the Greco-Roman way of life. For centuries, historians have puzzled over why this cultural revolution, commonly termed “Romanization,” took hold with such apparent vigor, often pointing to the enthusiasm of a small body of local elites for explanation. The present paper seeks to outline a model in which agency is instead assigned to the common people of the ancient world and investigates how this model might be used to interpret the process of cultural change as it occurred in rural and suburban Gaul. By carefully examining and considering how the appearance of new crops, new technologies, new patterns of land ownership, and new opportunities for investment impacted indigenous individuals this paper adds an important voice to a conversation that has heretofore focused primarily on a narrow urban aristocracy, bringing to light the crucial perspective of the ordinary people who were often both the most hapless victims and the greatest champions of Roman imperialism.

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