The Modern Politics of Ancient History : 2013 Archaeological Excavations at Santa Maria de Zamartze & Ancient Vasco-Roman Interactions and the Dialectic with Modern Nationalism
Melgar, Brianna M.
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This paper is inspired by, and based on, my experience working at a Roman archaeological site at the church of Santa Marfa de Zamartze (Zamartze) in Navarra, located in the Basque Country of Northern Spain. The paper is composed primarily of three parts: a reflection on the experience of excavating at Zamartze, a stratigraphic report of the site at Zamartze, and an analytical portion that synthesizes research and information from the site. This final analysis section of the paper explores two seemingly unrelated topics-- modem nationalism in the Basque Country and the nature of Roman rule the in same region-- in an attempt to better understand the dialectical relationship between them. I posit that modem Basque nationalism is strongly rooted in perceptions of Basque resistance to Roman rule and that, in tum, this nationalism affects scholarship on the period of Roman rule, thus doubly confusing any attempt at objective study. To better understand the nature of relations between ·ancient Vascones-- the people who inhabited the territory of the modem day Basque Country-and Romans we must deconstruct (and reconstruct) certain frameworks. Principally we must examine ideas used by two groups of scholars: those who would like to see the Vascones as a people unrelated to the modem Basques, or who passively accepted Roman rule, and those scholars that search for evidence of staunch Vascon resistance to Roman rule. Consequently, I have decided to re-examine the concept of romanization. Using the resultant more nuanced conceptualization of romanization, I provide a new analysis of the presence of Rome in Spain, in Navarra, and specifically along the Roman road Ab Asturica Burdigalam, where Zamartze is situated. In my analysis of Vasco-Roman interactions along the Ab Asturica Burdigalam, I utilize information gathered from the excavation at Zamartze. Finally, I delve back into the continuing importance of the dialectical relationship between modem nationalism and the period of Roman occupation, even during the excavation at Zamartze itself.
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