Materiality and Consumption in the Bronze Age Mediterranean
By Louise Steel
Routledge – 2013 – 264 pages
Series: Routledge Studies in Archaeology
The importance of cultural contacts in the East Mediterranean has long been recognized and is the focus of ongoing international research. Fieldwork in the Aegean, Egypt, Cyprus, and the Levant continues to add to our understanding of the nature of this contact and its social and economic significance, particularly to the cultures of the Aegean. Despite sophisticated discussion of the archaeological evidence, in particular on the part of Aegean and Mediterranean archaeologists, there has been little systematic attempt to incorporate anthropological perspectives on materiality and exchange into archaeological narratives of this material. This book addresses that gap and integrates anthropological discourse on contact, examining exchange systems, the gift, notions of geographical distance and power, colonization, and hybridization. Furthermore, it develops a social narrative of culture contact in the Mediterranean context, illustrating the reasons communities chose to engage in international exchange, and how this impacted the construction of identities throughout the region.
While traditional archaeologies in the East Mediterranean have tended to be reductive in their approach to material culture and how it was produced, used, and exchanged, this book reviews current research on material culture, focusing on issues such as the biography of objects, inalienable possessions, and hybridization – exploring how these issues can further illuminate the material world of the communities of the Bronze Age Mediterranean.
"This book…is an interesting read that covers a vast chronological and geographical range…of studies on the interaction of the various peoples of the Bronze Age Aegean, Cyprus, and the Levant. It is well written and clearly structured and…[it] succeeds in its aim to show the versatility of early connections between various regions in the eastern Mediterranean and the ways in which these connections shaped the material and immaterial world of its inhabitants." - Jorrit M. Kelder, American Journal of Archaeology
1. Introduction: Connected Worlds 2. Colonies in the Bronze Age Mediterranean 3. Entangled Worlds: Hybridization and an International Style 4. Greeting Gifts and Competitive Gift Exchange 5. Commodities, Luxuries and the Creation of Desire 6. Technologies of Enchantment 7. Materiality and the Biography of Objects 8. Conclusions
Part I: Introduction 1. Anthropological Perspectives on Culture Contact Part II: Hybrid Communities 2. Colonies in the Bronze Age Mediterranean 3. Hybridization Part III: Perspectives on Bronze Age Exchange 4. Greeting Gifts 5. Mercantile Exchange Part IV: The Material World 6. Craft and the Kingly Ideal 7. Materiality and the Biography of Objects Part V: Concluding Remarks