• Consumption and Choice in Ancient Sicily

    Justin Walsh (see profile)
    Anthropology, Archaeology, Classical antiquities, Greeks--Social life and customs, Civilization, Greco-Roman
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Athenian pottery, Sicily, Ancient economy, Consumers, Pottery, Classical archaeology, Classical Greek culture
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    Research has been carried out since 2002 on domestic material of the 5th century BC from the site of Morgantina, located in the hills of east-central Sicily. Two settlements have been uncovered at Morgantina: one on the Cittadella hill, reportedly destroyed in 459 BC (according to Diodorus), and the other on the adjoining Serra Orlando ridge, founded by at least 430 BC. Since the site features two well-dated and discrete sets of artefacts, it presents an excellent opportunity to track the behaviour of ancient populations over time. Among the results of this research is the discovery that choices made by consumers at Morgantina from the array of available imported pottery, particularly the black gloss ware made at Athens, varied widely between the first and second halves of the century. While consumers have often been ignored by archaeologists and historians in favour of concentrating on groups that are easier to identify, such as manufacturers and merchants, consumption of imported products has been explored in anthropological terms by Michael Dietler, among others, and in economic terms – albeit to a lesser extent – by Lin Foxhall. Their approaches have focused on the meanings of objects in foreign cultures, leaving aside the decision-making process that leads to the purchase or rejection of a consumer good. This paper seeks to develop an interpretative model of consumption in the ancient world derived not only from the work of the above-mentioned scholars, but also from buying habits and the notion of consumer choice. By examining the ability of consumers to choose, and the choices they made, a better understanding of the role of imports within Mediterranean societies can be formed.
    Published as:
    Conference proceeding    
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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