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Title: The construction of power : an investigation into the nature and representation of authority in Etruria during the Orientalising and Archaic periods (seventh and sixth centuries BC)
Author: Roth-Murray, Carrie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2667 3932
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis offers a new approach to examining social change for the Etruscans. As its working hypothesis, this project presents a new model for investigating the development of authoritative statuses for the Etruscans during the Orientalising and Archaic periods (seventh and sixth centuries BC). In the past, much work on the Etruscans has been affected by the reliance upon Greece and Rome as reference points for viewing the Etruscans, and the common binary division of viewing the Etruscans either through funerary or ritual contexts. As an alternative approach, this thesis suggests that Etruscan settlements should be investigated as independent entities, which are the products of gradual, indigenous developments. Rather than investigating the Etruscan culture and Etruria as being homogenous, the settlements must be viewed as related, but separate entities, in order to account for the unique developments present at each. The use of a multicontextual approach, combining information from funerary, domestic and ritual contexts, allowed for the widest possible understanding of how change in one area of social life can affect changes elsewhere. Investigating the use of iconography in all of these spheres at each settlement demonstrates specific messages being communicated within and between communities. The formation of the settlements, as seen through their spatial organisation, monumental architecture for funerary, domestic and ritual purposes and iconography, relates directly to the creation of special statuses which allowed individuals to hold control over these structures and the activities associated with them. This project also utilises an anthropological perspective in an attempt to reconcile the difficulties of investigating social change, by recognising choice at both the group and individual levels. The viability of this approach is demonstrated through a study of ten sites from the Orientalising and Archaic periods which contained monumental architecture of a ritual nature. Second, these are divided into groups based on their duration during this period, of being destroyed in or continuing after the sixth century BC. The emerging patterns suggest that this period marks major transformations in social life, and social hierarchy among the Etruscans. In particular, the construction, deconstruction and transformation of ritual architecture demonstrate dramatic changes in the authority related to the ritual sphere. More specifically, several sites show evidence that authority in the ritual sphere was combined with other types of authority, reflected architecturally in ritual complexes, which resulted in the destruction or restructuring of these types of structures, and led to the development of temples, characterised by ritual authority of a different nature, and the development of votive deposits as a new ritual practice. The end of this period illustrates growing centralisation of authority through a decrease in competition with fewer ritual structures per site, restraint in the funerary sphere and major construction projects, making the site a cohesive whole brought together with streets, walls and cuniculi. Rather than a linear progression of types of authority spreading across the region, this study has shown the complex variations involved. In addition to contributing an in-depth examination of Etruscan society, and its unique developments at several sites, the approach in this thesis offers a more widely applicable method of examining action and choice at both group and individual levels. This thesis provides a strong argument for more intra-site investigations to recognise the degree of variability across a region.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available