Food and identity in 4th to 2nd century BC Lucania
Brosgill, Abigail Reibman
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Identifying the ‘Lucanians’ has long been a complex issue. Myriad approaches have sought to correlate the archaeological record with ancient Greek and Roman narrative, while others have attempted to analyse aspects of warfare, burial rituals, grave goods and architectural typologies from a ‘Lucanian’ perspective. However, one fundamental aspect of cultural identity has hitherto been neglected: food-ways and the domestic food system in particular. Within the discussion of household knowledge, Aristotle notes ‘men must all have food, and the differences in their food have made differences in their way of life’. Despite the incompatibility of hierarchical organisation and the city-state model for ancient ‘Lucania’, the household remains the smallest unit upon which socio-political organisation of any type is rooted; the analysis of food preparation and cooking, beginning at the household level, is therefore essential for the study of ancient identity. Utilising the domestic food system methodology – spatial analysis on food preparation and cooking spaces, artefact analysis related to food-ways and both zooarchaeological and palaeobotanical evidence – this thesis reinvestigates 4th-2nd century BC habitation structures, drawing previously unseen patterns to the fore: 1) a female domestic area inclusive of food preparation, cooking and textile production; 2) an architectural distinction between domestic and ritual food preparation and cooking areas; and 3) communal dining that rejects elite banqueting rituals. That the artefact is an integral dimension of culture is axiomatic. Yet, scholarly approaches to ‘Lucanian’ cultural identity have failed to investigate the behaviour patterns and social interactions imbued within the objects that form the domestic food system. The intrinsic connection to identity encompassed in cookware ceramics, zooarchaeological evidence and domestic assemblages – and, in the relationships to both each other and to the interior space – creates a cultural boundary that provides invaluable information for the study of ‘Lucanian’ identity and, further, facilitates comparative research with similar groups of peoples. The domestic food system procures the baseline upon which shifts in socio-economic and political organisation can be overlaid, thus furthering the overall objective of this thesis: to recognise emerging patterns of cultural resilience and identity related to food practices.