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

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

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

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

Synopsis

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 Colonialism also 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.

Excerpt

From the people of Massalia, therefore, the Gauls learned a more civilized way
of life, their former barbarity being laid aside or softened; and by them they were
taught to cultivate their lands and to enclose their towns with walls. Then too, they
grew accustomed to live according to laws, and not by violence; then they learned
to prune the vine and plant the olive; and such a radiance was shed over both men
and things, that it was not Greece which seemed to have immigrated into Gaul, but
Gaul that seemed to have been transplanted into Greece.

Justin xliii.4

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 tribe 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 of a retelling of a legend about the foundation of the Greek colony of Massalia on the coast of southern France nearly five hundred years before the Roman conquest of the region and six hundred years before the reign of Augustus.

The foundation tale is first known from a text written by Aristotle in the fourth century bce, already more than two centuries after the event. the version of Pompeius Trogus is more richly elaborated and contains some slight variations from that of Aristotle. According to this legend, rights to the territory of the settlement and friendly relations between colonists and natives were secured originally through the marriage of a wayfaring Greek trader, named Protis, to a native woman named Gyptis (the daughter of Nannos, ruler of the local Segobrigai tribe). the Greek visitor was actually selected by Gyptis from among a number of suitors at a feast by means of a ceremony in which she offered a symbolic cup of drink to the man she chose as her husband (fig. 1.1). After their marriage, Protis was given land on the coast by his new father-in-law to found the colonial city that became Massalia and, eventually, modern Marseille. However . . .

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