“CULTURAL CONTACT AND INTERACTION IN PRE-ROMAN ITALY: ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL APPROACHES”
The purpose of this seminar course is to employ archaeological and historical approaches to study of cultural contact and interaction in pre-Roman Italy, in the period between about 1000 and 200 BC (we end just as the Romans brought political unification to the Italian peninsula and neighbouring islands at the end of the 3rd century BC). Pre-Roman Italy was home to and frequented by numerous different cultural entities (Etruscans, Romans, Phoenicians, Greeks, Samnites, Celts, Cypriots, and various “native populations” to name only some), each distinguished by their own cultural traditions. These traditions produced a world of vigorous cultural contact and interaction at the very crossroads of the Mediterranean. This topic is usually overlooked or treated superficially in modern scholarship, which has the habit of relegating this highly fascinating episode of cultural history to mere prelude to Rome’s full conquest of Italy. Modern scholars usually give a predominant role in regional development to the stimulus of immigrant populations, especially the Greeks and Phoenicians, who are thought to have encountered backward populations waiting to be civilized. This course seeks to reverse that trend and to challenge these assumptions. Did the first five hundred years of Roman history, on the Italian peninsula, not help shape the development and character of the later Roman Empire’s approach to cultural contact and interaction? Was the Western Mediterranean really as backward as generally depicted today? We will begin the course with several introductory joint seminars, in which we will be exploring some necessary issues (particularly theoretical models of cultural contact and interaction) for the study of pre-Roman Italy that will need to be broached together for mutual benefit. The remainder of the course will be devoted to research presentations. This course will appeal to students interested in archaeology and history and in cultural contact and interaction at a Mediterranean-wide level. Given the range of potential subject matter addressed in this course, students from various programmes (Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, Classics, Near Eastern Studies, Ancient Culture, Religion, and Ethnicity, and Religious Studies) will find something of interest and challenge here.