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10.4 Conclusions

Spatial studies involving artefacts hold tremendous potential for developing understanding of the archaeology of the Roman era. Such analyses have perhaps not been conducted for the period with the regularity that the nature of the record warrants. Where projects and research have been undertaken, samian is identified as an indicator of various key aspects such as status and function. The results of the present project generally underscore how useful samian can be for discerning the character of sites and of cultural practice.

Darling's study (1998), together with others, emphasises that samples of samian from one or two excavated areas of a major urban centre (or, for that matter, any other large site of the Roman era) might not necessarily be representative of the pattern at the site as a whole. Clearly, a more nuanced, reliable, picture is likely to emerge when broadly contemporary samples are available from several locations at specific sites (cf. Willis 1998a, 89). For most large sites in Roman Britain such samples exist, though it is unclear how synthetic spatial analysis of such material can be undertaken without specific project funding.

The case studies outlined above demonstrate that samian can be a useful contributor to initiatives attempting to identify and interpret the organisation and use of space in the Roman era at the intra-site level, be it through the micro examination of samples from buildings or in comparing different areas of a site. A further promising sphere lies in area studies, such as the Wroxeter hinterlands survey and the proposed Essex Roman hinterlands project.

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