Archaeology, history and theory : settlement and social relations in Central Italy A.D. 700-1000
The first two chapters of this thesis trace the development of historical and archaeological thought in an attempt to arrive at an understanding of the reasons behind the present polarization of the two disciplines. It is concluded that this polarization is the result of the stress placed on a series of oppositions -structure/agency, society/individual, synchrony/diachrony, past/present. It is argued that a rapprochement between History and Archaeology Is essential, especially for those who study the early med e.val period where both have some relevance, and that this rapprochement is only possible through an adequate theorisation of the recursive links which connect each of the oppositions. This theorisation is the subject of chapters 3 and 4. The essential elements of the theoretical perspective produced are that all the traces of the past should be seen as material culture produced by agents working in and through societal structures. The link between the past and the present is also stressed, and the past is seen as a resource drawn upon in the creation and negotiation of social relations. I use this theoretical perspective in a re-examination of the nature of settlement patterns and social structures in early medieval central Italy. I suggest that the archaeological evidence used to support the notion of massive depopulation at the end of the Roman empire, refers more to the dominance of the feudal mode of production. This is not to argue that population did not decline. It did, and much of this thesis is concerned with attempting to isolate the mechanisms through which elites tried to exercise control over people. These included increased management of production through the use of the written text and the development of administrative sites. These efforts culminated in the tenth century with the "incastellation" of much of the rural population.