AAIA Classical Archaeology Seminar
Ted Robinson | The University of Sydney
Mobility of ceramicists in southern Italy
From the very start of Greek settlement in southern Italy we find examples of the migration of ceramicists into indigenous Italian communities. The phenomenon intensifies from the second half of the 5th century onwards. The new evidence will be reviewed, with some shown to be completely at odds with traditional assumptions about the ethnicity of the artisans. We would not expect that all of the cultural knowledge, practices and meanings of Greek ceramics accompanied the migrant artisans, and there is plenty of evidence that they did not. There is also good evidence that the social and economic value of Greek‐type pottery changed very rapidly in indigenous contexts, and that there were dramatic differences across space. The successive redefinition and reappropriation of objects depends entirely on human signification. Interpretations must therefore be nuanced and context‐specific, but they encourage us to think about issues such as identity formation and regimes of value. The indigenous world of South Italy and the “Greek” cities are still largely thought of as quite separate spheres, even in the 4th century BC, after several centuries of cohabitation in the peninsula. Likewise Greek‐type pottery in indigenous settlements seems still to be regarded as a class of object used in something akin to a cargo‐cult, and without strong implications for questions of broader cultural change. This paper will argue that the mobility of ceramic artisans and the movement of and reinterpretation/repurposing of associated cultural knowledge and practices should be viewed as symbolic of wider issues for mobility and cultural exchange in South Italy, in spheres for which there is much less physical evidence.
This event will run via Zoom
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