Mediated Diffusion in Iron Age Europe

By James, N. | Antiquity, September 2010 | Go to article overview

Mediated Diffusion in Iron Age Europe


James, N., Antiquity


Diffusion of Mediterranean traits to central and north-western Europe during the middle Iron Age is a topic well rehearsed now by three generations of archaeologists. The stimulating recent exhibition Golasecca at the Musee d'Archeologie nationale in France, showed that--funds permitting--plenty of scope remains for research.

Elaborately made imports, at for instance the Heuneburg, Vix or Hochdorf, have been interpreted as evidence for how aristocrats adopted Greek and Etruscan styles to reinforce their status and regional power between about 600 and 400 BC. Art historians revealed how their bronzesmiths responded selectively to templates from not only states to the south but also eastern nomads. Archaeologists worked out how goods were brought up the Rhone valley by the enterprising Greeks of Marseille or by the northerners themselves exploiting that colony. The 'trade' is thought to have encouraged development of social complexity. More recently, to demonstrate the recipients' 'agency', attention has focused on potters' responses, adoption of coinage and writing and 'feasts' for chiefs to show off 'prestigious' exotica to rivals, clients or tributaries. Similar models of trade, 'appropriation' and sociopolitical development have been developed for the Late Pre-Roman Iron Age and the Roman Iron Age.

Despite ramifying perspectives from history and anthropology, the research has tended to envisage routes comprising only two or three stages: the original source of a given product or motif, the findspot; and perhaps some 'civilised' station along the way. In step with the recent concern about local creativity, the exhibition argued that certain generically southern wares in Switzerland and nearby regions of France and Germany show influence from the Italian Alps. The co-curator, Veronica Cicolani, sought to demonstrate how Golasecca bronzesmiths and jewellers adapted their work in response to imports from Etruria and the Adriatic and how their versions were then taken north and west. If she is right, then what arrived there was not simply Mediterranean wares borne by passive 'intermediaries' but also pieces interpreted, as it were, by Golasecca 'mediators'. The difference is explained by the sociologist Bruno Latour (2005: 39).

Golasecca was at the Musee d'Archeologie nationale, Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle, near Paris, from November 2009 to April 2010. Assembled from 20 collections in Italy, Switzerland, France and Germany, it comprised a precise and simple argument of six parts. The first explained the early history of research, notably the vision of the redoubtable Gabriel de Mortillet and the fieldwork of Alexandre Bertrand, whose notebooks were shown alongside the proceedings of the international congresses that defined the Golasecca culture. Bertrand dug four tombs at Monsorino in 1873 and sent them to Saint-Germain, pots, metalwork and the cists' glistening Alpine flagstones, all (Figure 1). Tomb 4 was reassembled in the gallery. The next two parts showed typological and chronological specimens of pottery and bronzework, supplemented with documents and illustrations of the museum's own from 1883. The Golasecca culture is known mostly from burials but the remarkably diverse hoard of bronze ware from Arbedo was shown too and more recent finds from settlements, notably Castelleto Ticino (barely published yet). Pottery and a cobble also revealed that, in the sixth century, some Golaseccans--or visitors of theirs--wrote, apparently in Celtic (Figure 2). Then, to prove Cicolani's argument, the last part of the exhibition presented pieces with Golasecca affinities from the high wayside settlement of Gamsen and from funerary assemblages in the Alps, the Swiss plateau and eastern France.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

The Golasecca culture flourished from about 900 to about 400 BC. It conformed broadly to the Urnfield tradition of burial (Pauli 1971; Ridgway 1979; Chirat 2009). There are diagnostic pots--an early rectangular pedestalled dish and the 'double cup' vase are striking--but more memorable was the smiths' 'savoir-faire artisanal' (Chirat 2009: 135) in a range of forms and styles of decoration familiar from the south. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mediated Diffusion in Iron Age Europe
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.