Wednesday, January 09, 2008

AIA/APA Chicago Report no. 2

Continuing with AIA Session 2E: Etruria and Samnium...

Elizabeth C. Robinson
re-examined "Rural Settlement Patterns and Sanctuaries in the Middle Volturno Valley (Campania)" between the Archaic period and the 1st cent. BCE. The area has been discussed twice in recent memory, by P. Carafa in his 1997 dissertation "I Culti in Campania" (published in 2006) and by S.P. Oakley in his 1996 The Hill-Forts of the Samnites, but neither treatment is completely satisfactory. Robinson finds no evidence for city-state organization or border sanctuaries in the region, and Oakley's work (not surprisingly) focuses mostly on clearly identifiable fortified sites. Robinson reclassified the 16 identified sites into new categories: large oppida with a fortified acropolis and 1 or more wall circuits; small oppida with no separate acropolis, no more than one circuit, enclosing an area of less than 0.16m2; rural cult sites and necropoleis.

For instance, the site of La Rocca, with its three terraces and two circuits of polygonal masonry, becomes a large oppidum, which Carafa had identified as a boundary sanctuary purely on the basis of four terracotta heads, which may be antefixes. One of the difficulties that emerged from discussion was the lack of a real survey of the area, as well as the small quantities of material used to define a site -- do two bronze statuettes make Zappini a rural cult site? As some conclusions, the sanctuaries show little evidence of monumental architecture, the settlement pattern is very unlike that of poleis, and we should abandon the idea of boundary sanctuaries for Samnium.

Next, Rachel Van Dusen gave us "Saving Face: Samnite Elites in the Aftermath of the Samnite Wars." The families of Samnite generals identified in Livy's account of the Samnite Wars (Papius Brutulus, Statius Gellius, Gellius Egnatius, Min. Staius Minatius) continue to be attested as meddices tutici for several hundred years. For instance, the Staii produced at least 12 meddices for the period 296 - 90 BCE. The monumentalization of sanctuaries in Samnium, which coincides with a reduction in wealth of grave goods, provides further evidence for the continuing control of these families through inscriptional evidence. Four of the six Papii known as meddices tutici are attested in inscriptions from sanctuaries, e.g. G. Papius with the smaller temple at Schiavi D'Abruzzo, ca. 100-90 BCE. Likewise, two of three Statii, including G. Statius Clarus with Temple B at Pietrabbondante; one of three Egnatii, and a wopping 10 of 12 Staii, including six at Pietrabbondante, one at Campochiaro, plus an otherwise unattested Staius known from a bronze tablet at Vastogirardi. These families were clearly able to maintain their status despite a shift from positions of military power to civil posts.

Finally, Tesse Stek read a paper on
"Sanctuaries and Society in Central-Southern Italy in the Republican Period." Stek investigated the sanctuaries' function in society; the oft-cited commercial profits made by Italic merchants of the period are not a sufficient reason in and of themselves, only a condition. None of the three commonly proposed explanations (transhumance road shrines, territorial markers, constituents of the Italic pattern of settlement) for sanctuary development are satisfactory. If they were road-shrines connected with transhumance, then why are so many perched on mountain tops unsuited for flocks or large markets? The idea of the of the border sanctuary originated with Polignac's work in Greece, but the Greek system does not map neatly onto the Italic world. This is not a polis-system, and the ethnic groups represented may not have been so rigidly territorially defined. Finally, the oft-discussed pagus-vicus system is based on problematic and disparate literary references, rather than on archaeology, although it wins points for its attempt at a purely Italic model.

Stek finds a problem in that the spatial context of most Samnite sanctuaries is largely unknown. He took as a test case the sanctuary at S. Giovanni in Galdo, loc. Colle Rimontato, based on 2004-2005 Leiden surveys and unpublished finds from the 1970's. They surveyed the 7km
2 directly around the sanctuary with theoretical 20% coverage; concentrations of >5 artifacts/m2 were labeled as sites and resurveyed. For the Archaic Period Stek found a nucleated settlement around a spring, with cemetery some 500m north of the sanctuary. The Hellenistic Period saw a dispersion of smaller sites, nine contemporary with the sanctuary, while the prior nucleated settlement was extended into a hamlet of 8 ha. For the Roman Period, the total number of sites remained the same, but their locations changed, though the hamlet continued to be occupied as did a number of farmsteads. The sanctuary shows evidence of use into the late Imperial period.

Stek hypothesizes the sanctuary as perhaps a pole of attraction for the surrounding communities, or possibly vice versa, being constructed in a (relatively) densely-populated area. He finds no evidence for territorial marking or for a connection with transhumance, although neither possibility can be ruled out at this stage.

Thus concludes the session on Etruria and Samnium. Tune in next time for coverage of Magna Graecia; I have some reviews of a couple of new books on ancient Italy in the works as well.

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