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Archaeologies of Colonialism

Archaeologies of Colonialism: Consumption, Entanglement, and Violence in Ancient Mediterranean France

Michael Dietler
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    Archaeologies of Colonialism
    Book Description:

    This book presents a theoretically informed, up-to-date study of interactions between indigenous peoples of Mediterranean France and Etruscan, Greek, and Roman colonists during the first millennium BC. Analyzing archaeological data and ancient texts, Michael Dietler explores these colonial encounters over six centuries, focusing on material culture, urban landscapes, economic practices, and forms of violence. He shows how selective consumption linked native societies and colonists and created transformative relationships for each.Archaeologies of Colonialismalso examines the role these ancient encounters played in the formation of modern European identity, colonial ideology, and practices, enumerating the problems for archaeologists attempting to re-examine these past societies.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94794-8
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Michael Dietler
  4. 1 THE CUP OF GYPTIS: Introduction to a Colonial Encounter
    (pp. 1-26)

    This statement summarizing the colonial encounter that constitutes the central focus of this book was written during the reign of Augustus, the first Roman emperor, although it purports to describe a process that began about six centuries earlier. It was written by a historian named Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus, who, despite his Roman name and citizenship, was a son of the Vocontii, a powerful Gallic tribe¹ from what was by that time the conquered Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. This intriguing, if (as will be shown) largely erroneous, evaluation of the effects of a protracted colonial encounter appeared as the summation...

    (pp. 27-54)

    Perhaps the most intriguing and consequential case of “invented traditions” in European history involved a sweeping “colonization” of modern consciousness by the ancient Greco-Roman world. This process was launched several centuries ago, and its evolving manifestations have been a pervasive feature of European cultures ever since. The passages cited above are illustrative of this curious cultural conquest of the present by the past, although hundreds of other examples easily could have been substituted to make the point. More important in the present context, however, is to examine the nature of, and reasons for, the historical development of this referential and...

    (pp. 55-74)

    Developing the theoretical tools to accomplish the goals outlined in the previous chapters, and to enable a productive archaeological contribution to the comparative understanding of colonialism, requires coming to grips with the issue of agency in both indigenous and colonial societies and abandoning the kinds of teleological assumptions of inevitability that have been shown to underlie many of the approaches discussed previously. Progress in understanding the colonial experience and its unfolding consequences in the specific contexts examined here depends on recognizing that intercultural consumption of objects or practices, the process that instigated the initial entanglement of the colonial encounter, is...

    (pp. 75-130)

    When traders peddling Etruscan goods first anchored their small ships along the shores of southern France in the late seventh century BCE, they encountered a diverse and dynamic indigenous world composed of exotic peoples whose languages and customs they did not understand. A few decades later, colonists from a Phocaean homeland at the other end of the Mediterranean claimed a space on the north shore of a small harbor on the rugged Provençal coast and began to build homes within the tiny and precarious new settlement of Massalia. By moving here, on the far western edge of the world known...

    (pp. 131-156)

    As should be clear from the previous chapter, throughout most of the period covered in this book, trade, interspersed with episodes of violence, was the principal form of interaction between indigenous peoples of the region and Etruscans and Greeks. But even after the Roman military intrusion into the region in the late second century BCE, trade continued to be a major element of colonial relations and a significant factor in the history of the colonial situation. Hence, a consideration of the nature of trade and traders is a crucial aspect of the attempt to understand the interests and practices that...

    (pp. 157-182)

    Violence is a crucial subject of analysis in any colonial encounter. That is not to say that it is an inevitable feature of colonialism or even necessarily the most important. But colonial situations do frequently involve aggressive action (or at least the threat of such action), and they often provoke or alter various forms of collective homicidal conflict. Transformations in the extent and nature of collective violence among societies in the area radiating out from the boundaries of an intrusive state are a common feature of many colonial situations, both ancient and modern.¹ This is particularly marked in the case...

    (pp. 183-256)

    Food is a domain of social life that presents what should be an obvious target for investigation in seeking to understand the operation of colonialism. After all, contemporary foodways around the world are in large measure the product of a long history of colonial encounters. Moreover, food has been a consistently prominent material medium for the enactment of colonialism.¹ In other words, food is not simply a convenient index of change in colonial situations; it is an agent of change as well. And the changes produced are not confined to the semiotics of consumption: they have had a major impact...

    (pp. 257-332)

    The colonial encounter unfolded within an evolving set of interrelated material and conceptual spaces that both organized the flow of interactions and were reconfigured by the colonial experience. This chapter examines two dimensions of that set of spaces—landscapes of everyday life and ritual—and asks what these features can tell us about the nature and consequences of the encounter. Obviously, the distinction between the two is, to a large extent artificial, and these terms do not necessarily describe separate physical spaces: many ritual practices were carried out within urban settings, and many aspects of the built environment of towns...

    (pp. 333-346)

    This book began with a passage by the Gallo-Roman historian Pompeius Trogus extolling the radiant civilizing influence of Massalia and claiming that the progress of the surrounding barbarians was so brilliant that it seemed as though Gaul had essentially been transformed into Greece (fig. 9.1). In subsequent chapters, analysis of archaeological data covering the six centuries of colonial encounters that preceded the account of Pompeius Trogus have shown how wildly inaccurate his statement was. As late as the end of the second century BCE, five hundred years after the foundation of the Greek colony, the inhabitants of Entremont, a mere...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 347-390)
    (pp. 391-452)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 453-464)