The rise of the terramare culture? A critical reconsideration of the Middle Bronze Age colonisation of the Po Plain
During the Middle and Recent Bronze Age (1650-1150 BC), the Central Po Plain (Northern Italy) was characterised by the presence of several large, banked and moated villages. Traditionally it has been argued in the Italian scholarly literature that these so-called terramare settlements were established during a ‘colonisation’ of the plain. Postmodern criticism and new data, however, question this part of the so-called ‘rise, florescence and fall’ grand narrative of the terramare culture. This article addresses several of the problems inherent to this theory such as its historiography, the supposed representativity of actually known Early and Middle Bronze Age sites, and the ‘group identity’ and facies issues. A reconsideration of its epistemological premises is pursued in an attempt to open the door for an eventual alternative explanation of this phenomenon.
Neopalatial Crete: a reconstruction of a competitive geopolitical landscape
Geopolitical organisation of Neopalatial Crete (1640-1425 BC) is traditionally associated with the palaces. Within this perspective, the palace of Knossos is postulated as the political centre of Neopalatial Crete. However this centralisation of power in the palaces is being questioned because of the widespread attestation of monumental architecture and valueable material culture. Here an attempt to break out of this polarisation is presented based on a thorough analysis of the archaeological record of two regions, north-central and south-central Crete. The archaeological record points strongly to a competitive geopolitical environment, where power was constantly being negotiated between elite groups. The chronical trajectories of the studied settlements indicate fluctuating power structures. Certain settlements expand while others are abandoned or outcompeted. Consequently the Neopalatial period cannot be considered as one monolithic entity. Considerable changes took place during this period, notably within the socio-political sphere. As a result, permanent political dominance of Knossos proves out te be very improbable.
Sabines in the Tibervalley: Iron Age communities between clans from the Apennines and Tyrrhenian city-states
The most important phenomenon in Central Italy during 1000-500 BC is the development of complex societies. The study of Italian Iron Age societies often emphasizes the urbanization process and early state formation in the Tyrrhenian area and the adoption of these models in more inland regions. This article focuses on the development of the community and culture of the Sabines in the Tiber valley. Recent excavations and surveys give us an opportunity to study the development of these Sabines, one of the most important peoples in pre-Roman history, in more detail. Urbanization and early state formation do not fully explain the social-political character of the Sabine ‘frontier’ communities and the expression of identity in the material culture. Interregional contact – in which the Tyrrhenian area played a central role – was crucial to the formation of centralized communities in the Sabina Tiberina and the cultural identity of the local elite.
The ziro burial “Coleman” and the problems concerning the Etruscan urns with mobile figurines from the Chiusi region
This article reviews the current state of research on the rare class of Etruscan pottery cinerary urns with mobile figurines from the Chiusi region (2nd half of the 7th century BC). Central to the discussion is the case of the so-called “Coleman” tomb group. Since 1935 a vase of the above-mentioned type and some other Etruscan artefacts from the collection of the American industrialist Robert H. Coleman (1856-1930), currently preserved at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, have been associated with a Clusine ziro burial excavated in 1881. However, most of the objects of the alleged tomb group, including the vase, have proved to be forgeries. Problems also surround the five other complete vases with mobile figurines. Doubts about the authenticity of two pieces are confirmed by thermoluminescence testing. Another vase is too heavily restored to determine its precise condition and date. As for the remaining two vases, both believed to be genuine, one was stolen from the Chiusi museum in 1971 and the other is in a rather fragmentary condition, as a recently executed restoration has shown.
The Antikythera Mechanism: in search of planets in the world’s oldest computer
The Antikythera Mechanism is the most extraordinary example of Greek technological development and expertise known from antiquity. This amazing piece of geared technology could best be described as a complex mechanical computer dated to the second century before Christ which tracks and predicts various cycles of the Sun and the Moon. One of the major questions concerning the mechanism that has puzzled scholars for over one century now is whether the motions of the planets were also predicted by the device. Though many clues have been discovered, no direct evidence has been found in the surviving fragments of the Antikythera Mechanism. This article describes our work in analyzing the various possibilities for a planetary extension. Different ways in which the positions of the planets could have been represented on the mechanism are explored and we focus on one of these ways on the basis of actual computer reconstructions.
Public Constructions in Roman Africa (50 B.C. – A.D. 425)
This article deals with public constructions in Roman Africa (between 50 B.C. and A.D. 425) from an economic-archaeological and conjectural perspective. Economic archaeologists and historians are always interested in conjectures of past production and consumption as to gain insights into the structure, scale and degree of successfulness of the ancient economy and its changes through time. As to reconstruct such a conjecture, the author has chronologically ordered all instances of public constructions from a large dataset by Hélène Jouffroy (Jouffroy, 1986). This he could do, due to some methodological improvements, with greater precision and far more data than was possible in previous assessments of the same dataset by others. In his article the author describes and interprets the reconstructed curves of both the African construction volumes and the changes in the total stock of public buildings. An increase in the African construction volumes starts to be significant from the late first century A.D. on, reaching a peak in the mid-second century; after a short period of moderation an absolute zenith is reached during the reign of Septimus Severus. Then, after the Severian period, the African construction volumes plunge into what seems to be the Third Century Crisis. , A new high-tide initiates during the late fourth century however; thereafter there’s but a steep decline. Interestingly an absolute zenith in the total stock of buildings is reached at the height of the construction volume ‘crisis’. Lastly, the author compares the results presented in this article with those that were recently published on public constructions in Roman Italy in his contribution to TMA 45, titled Public Constructions in Roman Italy (225 B.C. – A.D. 425) a conjectural approach.
TMA 46 – Architectuur als bron in de Archeologie
Architecture and archaeology: a mental cinema?
In this paper I draw attention to the great potential of researching the architectural evidence in archaeology. In a model of architectural studies I have mapped the two main pillars of architectural studies. These are the reconstructions and the social interpretations that can be read from the archaeological evidence. The question is whether social interpretations can be directlyderived from the archaeological traces or through reconstructions. Simultaneously, I highlighted the fact that the architectural artifact is a difficult one, because in publications the distinction between the artifacts and the reconstructions is not always made clear. As an example, the reconstruction of a canonical domus at the foot of the Palatine has been discussed. The assumption of this very hypothetical reconstruction, which is inspired by the so-called mental cinema of Andrea Carandini, can lead to risky conclusions regarding social and economic organisation in the Archaic period in Rome. The danger is to formulate hypotheses based on hypotheses.
Reconstruction: knowledge development and public presentation
The reconstruction of Roman buildings is a scientific challenge. Working within the framework of Roman architectural theory and practice, the reconstruction of a building is based on an analysis of the building’s remains and a range of other sources, such as relevant comparable buildings, depictions of architecture on Roman historical reliefs, wall paintings and mosaics as well as texts of ancient writers (and more). Combining all the evidence of a building’s appearance results in the elimination of many unknown factors, thus leaving the most likely solution. Research aiming at defining what (Roman) buildings looked like generates knowledge and results in a 3D image representing this knowledge in every detail in a way that is attractive and easily comprehensible to the public. Few other forms of archaeological research provide such a natural combination of knowledge development and public presentation.
The Art of Reconstruction.
On the archaeological value of 3D-simulations in analysing pre-Roman temples and roofs
This article highlights the ways in which ancient temples in Italy constituted manifestations of political power. First, it examines the existing data (visual and textual) and prevailing views about important aspects of temples, such as architecture, roofdecoration, and environment, against the background of social transformations at the end of the 6th century BC. Second, it aims at factual, visual and virtual reconstructions of these temples, in order to visualize and analyse their monumentality and impact and provide a new impulse to the reconstruction and interpretation of hitherto invisible monuments. The scholarly relevance is grounded in the deliberate combination of (traditional) archaeological and cultural-historical views with innovative methods of research (i.e. virtual reality simulations). Virtual reconstruction does not aspire at rebuilding the past, but at visualizing what we know about the past. In other words, virtual reconstruction synthesizes a consistent visualization of manmade structures, based upon all available sources. In this way, virtual reconstruction can be viewed as a multidisciplinary activity, always susceptible to change. The first part of this paper presents the results of a pilot project focusing on a temple excavated at Satricum in Latium. These results have shown the importance and valorisation of reconstructing a monument by means of 3D simulation. The second part of this paper investigates another roof type belonging to a contemporary temple, found very close to the site of Satricum, and destroyed in the sixties of the last century. This invisible monument will be the subject of an investigation using 3D reconstruction. The importance of this monument lies in the fact that it was part of a group of strongly related early Roman roof systems: the so-called Veii-Rome-Velletri Decorative System and the Rome-Caprifico Variant (ca. 540- 520 BC). These First-Phase roofs have been studied by a group of international specialists in the field on several occasions and somehow remain fascinating – and troubling – because of their chronology and imagery, as well as their regional and historical setting, especially in the context of the “legendary” tyrant Tarquinius Superbus.
House architecture and social sciences: a case study in Bronze Age Greece
In this article the view is advocated that archaeologists should focus less on a three-dimensional reconstruction of architecture. Instead, we ought to think more about the reasons why buildings are shaped and organized the way they are. To achieve this, we should move beyond a mere functionalistic explanation, and incorporate behavioral studies and environment psychology, as suggested by Amos Rapoport. These reflections are taken into consideration in a case study of Greek Bronze Age house. The two-dimensional data of house plans are turned into reconstructions, but not only of the way in which people shaped their house. A reconstruction is also given of how people used their built environment to communicate and construct their identity. The data suggest that during Early Helladic III and the early Middle Helladic (ca. 2200-1800 B.C.) people identified primarily with their household but also with the community at large. Architectural changes towards the later Middle Helladic (ca. 1800-1700 B.C.) suggest that some households started to distance themselves from the collective identity. It seems they started to construct a new identity (possibly based on a larger social group), which led to competition between households.
Tabernae, economic growth and urban development in republican Pompeii
This paper discusses how prosperity and changing consumption patterns in second century BC Pompeii shaped a climate that resulted in dramatic changes in the city’s commercial landscape and led to investment in commercial space on an increased scale and in new contexts. The analysis particularly zooms in on the material remains of tabernae and aims to show how the standing remains of these facilities reveal the investment context in which they were built. In the second century BC, private house owners start surrounding their houses with tabernae on an hitherto unseen scale, while at the same time, tabernae become a much more prominent part of public architecture, and investors start building independent rows of tabernae on bare plots of land in the city centre. This indicates the large degree in which commercial priorities actually shaped the urban landscape, already in a relatively early period.
Ostia’s Insula IV ii: the nexus between built form and social organisation
This paper explores the spatial organisation of Ostia’s Insula IV ii, an urban neighbourhood counting 14 individual buildings. The Insula boasts an impressive variety of land-uses, including a number of shared internal courtyards. Insula IV ii has hitherto not received much attention, and it is for the first time that the city block has been studied in its totality, not only taking account of all its buildings, but addressing the neighbourhood as a collectively shared spatial and social entity. The spatial analysis of the Insula’s architecture (all buildings and the shared courtyards) revealed a number of interesting insights including the ability to promote activities in the inner courtyards and to engender interaction and social encounter through its specific spatial structure.
Material Connections in the Ancient Mediterranean:
mobility, materiality and identity
The Cambridge companion to the Aegean Bronze Age
The Oxford handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean
Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death
Etrusken. Vrouwen van Aanzien – Mannen met Macht