Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Beyond Hellenization Terracotta Ritual Furniture in Ancient Sicily
by Ward, Andrew Farinholt, Ph.D., New York University, 2018, 584; 10751079
Abstract (Summary)

The consumption and adaptation of Greek material culture by non-Greek peoples in ancient Sicily and the wider ancient world has been an ongoing point of contention in scholarship—do Greek objects influence the peoples that use them, and by their movement and trade are these objects and their figured surfaces active agents of “Hellenization”? Acknowledging that framing this discussion through postcolonialism only perpetuates the anachronistic colonialist model, this dissertation applies the materialist theory of transculturality to a long-understudied class of ritual terracotta instruments distributed and adapted through ancient Sicily: louteria, arulae, and related ritual furniture impressed with cylinder-roll rollers. Imported from Corinth by the sixth century, the technique would find widespread popularity among the Greek, Phoenician, and indigenous communities of western Sicily, remaining a distinct tradition until the fourth century BCE.

Ancient identity is far more fluid than previous scholarship allows, and it is a mistake to frame cultural history through homogenous ethnic groupings like “Greeks” or “Phoenicians.” Deconstructing the center/periphery models traditionally used to understand the area’s pre-Roman history, a complex multimodal network of cross- and transcultural interaction is proposed that goes beyond the linear and homogenizing model of hellenization. Stamped footed basins—whether louteria or perirrhanteria—were produced and distributed by workshops in the major Greek poleis, with certain iconographies being popular in certain areas, and entirely new stamp series developed for the varying needs of local communities. Miniature altars, generally the province of the square stamp, utilized cylinder rollers more frequently in non-Greek communities, and developed over the time period in a manner distinct from louteria. Other classes of terracotta furniture, including sarcophagi, pithoi, wellheads, and furniture legs, all demonstrate the flexibility of the technique, and the ubiquity of this originally Greek style in a growing West Sicilian koine that transcended cultural associations. Indeed, a technique once taken as a signifier of hellenization instead represents the development of a truly transcultural regional style that used legible chains of transformation to articulate local identity, coming to an end only with the loss of communal autonomy with the rise of Punic and Syracusan hegemony across the island.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Marconi, Clemente
Commitee: Hay, Jonathan, Iozzo, Mario, Kopcke, Gunther, Uhlenbrock, Jaimee
School: New York University
Department: Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, European history, Art history, Classical Studies
Keywords: Arula, Cylinder stamp, Greek, Indigenous, Louterion, Phoenician
Publication Number: 10751079
ISBN: 978-0-438-17146-6
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