Empire, Personhood, and Child Sacrifice

A Case for Africa’s "Romanization"

Matthew M. McCarty

University of British Columbia

Ancient North Africa has long been considered a landscape of stasis, where cultural trajectories can be traced from the Phoenician colonization of the 9th century BCE through the Islamic conquest to modernity. The practices surrounding the Phoenician rite of child sacrifice in the Maghreb are often highlighted as a prime piece of evidence for this grand narrative. In this talk, Matthew McCarty will argue that we see marked shifts from the Phoenician rite into the Roman imperial period, and that these extend beyond the level of practice and into the conceptual realm. Over the course of the first and second centuries CE, we can recognize a change in the very notion of childhood and what constituted a person: changes that are directly due to the region's incorporation into the Roman Empire.

 Matthew M. McCarty (DPhil, Oxford), Assistant Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of British Columbia, is a Classical archaeologist and ancient historian whose work focuses on the edges of the Roman Empire, ancient religion, and the relationships between material objects and knowledge. His forthcoming monograph, Empire and Religion in Roman Africa (Cambridge UP), examines the ways in which incorporation into the Roman Empire re-shaped nearly every aspect of religious life in the ancient Maghreb. He is currently director of the Apulum Mithraeum III Project (Alba Iulia, Romania), part of his new project to write the material history of religion in the Roman world. Before coming to UBC, he held a Perkins-Cotsen Fellowship in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University and a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities at Yale University.

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