A number of scholars have drawn attention in recent years to the lack of research directed towards the reconstruction of the social profile and cultural identity of Greek colonies in Sicily from archaeological evidence and the ancient written sources. In this connection, the analysis of burial customs has increasingly been recognised as one of the most important tools in the understanding of past societies, their fears and anxieties, and their desires and ambitions. My paper will focus on the results of a major new examination of the Archaic cemeteries of Gela, containing mainly 7th and 6th century burials; graves of the first generation are still lacking there, as they are elsewhere in South Italy and Sicily. This work has at last revealed many of the aims and priorities of Archaic Gela as she sought to establish a cultural identity that was clearly distinct from those of the two motherlands (Rhodes and Crete). Above all, as already stated by G. Shepherd in her studies of the Greek cemeteries in Sicily, the general impression given by the Geloan funerary customs is an overall lack of interest in the demonstration of ethnic distinctions, even within a mixed and hybrid society. The priority is rather to show the development of a new social structure, and to indicate the progressive formation of the main family groups. An important aspect of this is the special attention given to the jeunesse dorée: their exceptionally wealthy graves, containing exotic and prestige goods, large amounts of metal work and imported pottery, serve to demonstrate adult claims to elite status along with the fear of sudden disruption in the bloodlines. Even more interesting is the demonstration that this funerary picture can be equated with the ancient written sources: the chronological range studied (650-550 B.C.) is in fact that of the rapid major Geloan expansion over the surrounding territory, involving the establishment of large estates belonging to aristocratic  and the foundation of the subcolony Akragas. Certain changes in child burial rates and funeral customs can also be correlated with these events.

Hoping for Continuity : Being born and dying young in Archaic Gela (Sicily): from the analysis of the cemeteries to the reconstruction of cultural identity / C. Lambrugo (STUDIES IN MEDITERRANEAN ARCHAEOLOGY AND LITERATURE). - In: Interaction and Identity Sicily and South Italy from the Iron Age to Late Antiquity / [a cura di] G. Shepherd. - Prima edizione. - Nicosia : Astrom Editions, 2021. - ISBN 9789925745586. - pp. 165-190

Hoping for Continuity : Being born and dying young in Archaic Gela (Sicily): from the analysis of the cemeteries to the reconstruction of cultural identity

C. Lambrugo
2021

Abstract

A number of scholars have drawn attention in recent years to the lack of research directed towards the reconstruction of the social profile and cultural identity of Greek colonies in Sicily from archaeological evidence and the ancient written sources. In this connection, the analysis of burial customs has increasingly been recognised as one of the most important tools in the understanding of past societies, their fears and anxieties, and their desires and ambitions. My paper will focus on the results of a major new examination of the Archaic cemeteries of Gela, containing mainly 7th and 6th century burials; graves of the first generation are still lacking there, as they are elsewhere in South Italy and Sicily. This work has at last revealed many of the aims and priorities of Archaic Gela as she sought to establish a cultural identity that was clearly distinct from those of the two motherlands (Rhodes and Crete). Above all, as already stated by G. Shepherd in her studies of the Greek cemeteries in Sicily, the general impression given by the Geloan funerary customs is an overall lack of interest in the demonstration of ethnic distinctions, even within a mixed and hybrid society. The priority is rather to show the development of a new social structure, and to indicate the progressive formation of the main family groups. An important aspect of this is the special attention given to the jeunesse dorée: their exceptionally wealthy graves, containing exotic and prestige goods, large amounts of metal work and imported pottery, serve to demonstrate adult claims to elite status along with the fear of sudden disruption in the bloodlines. Even more interesting is the demonstration that this funerary picture can be equated with the ancient written sources: the chronological range studied (650-550 B.C.) is in fact that of the rapid major Geloan expansion over the surrounding territory, involving the establishment of large estates belonging to aristocratic  and the foundation of the subcolony Akragas. Certain changes in child burial rates and funeral customs can also be correlated with these events.
Gela, funerary rites, children, premature death
Settore L-ANT/07 - Archeologia Classica
Settore L-ANT/02 - Storia Greca
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/903048
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