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|Title:||The Lydion: Revealing Connectivity across the Mediterranean in the Sixth Century B.C.|
Department of Archaeology
|Abstract:||The Archaic period was a period of great change around the Mediterranean: population growth, urbanization and colonization all contributed to the overturning of existing social and political structures. Growth in commercial trade, especially during the sixth century B.C., accompanied these changes. It is argued in this thesis that by mapping the production, distribution and consumption of a particular object, the ceramic unguent container called the lydion, we can follow some of the strands of connectivity and knowledge that linked many culturally diverse regions during the sixth century B.C. By using this information to write a social history of the lydion which describes the evolving social and the economic role of the vessel as it passed from hand to hand, we would be able to provide new evidence towards the ongoing debate about the form and scale of trade and exchange in the Archaic period. The lydion was a distinctively shaped vessel that was indigenous to Lydia in Asia Minor, and its use was largely restricted to the sixth century B.C., yet it was imported and then imitated at a range of culturally diverse sites. It had both a social role, as a luxury that was used as part of funerary and religious ritual, and an economic role, as the container for a commodity that was distributed and consumed across the Mediterranean. In order to establish the basis for this argument, the main themes of the debate about trade and exchange during the Archaic period are discussed. Past scholarship relating to the lydion is compared to the evidence, and it becomes clear that several oft repeated beliefs about where particular types of lydia were produced should be revisited. A new study must necessarily begin with a full mapping of distribution and the development of a typology and chronology for the lydion. Studies of the production and consumption of perfumes in the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age provide useful comparative evidence. Two case studies are presented here: Sardis in Lydia, where the lydion was first used, and Etruria, where the shape was imported and then imitated. These studies reveal that the lydion was used in different ways at each site: at Sardis it was found in both settlement and burial contexts, but Etruria it has been found in burials and in votive deposits. These regions share the banquet as the central theme of burial assemblages, complicating the interpretation of the role of the lydion. In order to understand the range of evidence available for such a study and to provide a resource for this thesis, a digital catalogue of lydia was created which can be queried according to the requirements of the user. The lydion is proven to be an ideal vehicle for the analysis of social and economic history; this thesis should be read as a prolegomenon to such a study.|
|Department/Unit/Centre:||Department of Archaeology|
|Appears in Collections:||Honours Theses - Department of Archaeology|
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