Material Culture and Social Identities in the Ancient World

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Recent studies have highlighted the diversity, complexity, and plurality of identities in the ancient world. At the same time, scholars have acknowledged the dynamic role of material culture, not simply in reflecting those identities but their role in creating and transforming them. This volume explores and compares two influential approaches to the study of social and cultural identities, the model of globalization and theories of hybrid cultural development. In a series of case studies, an international team of archaeologists and art historians considers how various aspects of material culture can be used to explore complex global and local identity structures across the geographical and chronological span of antiquity. The essays examine the civilizations of the Greeks, Romans, Etruscans, Persians, Phoenicians, and Celts. Reflecting on the current state of our understanding of cultural interaction and antiquity, they also dwell on contemporary thoughts of identity, cultural globalization, and resistance that shape and are shaped by academic discourses on the cultural empires of Greece and Rome.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Most essays feature useful, capable presentations of the history and context of the subjects at hand, and all of them - especially given the omnipresence of identity these days - should be required reading for a modern understanding of how these particular examples of material culture can (or cannot) be theorized."
The Classical Review

"… a necessary addition to the current discourse on the value of identity."
Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"The volume as a whole is a very useful - and up-to-date - discussion on current issues broadly relating to identity. The editors have successfully managed to bring together a very diverse set of papers and to link general discussions and theoretical frameworks to well-expounded and specific case studies."
The Ancient History Bulletin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521767743
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/21/2009
  • Pages: 358
  • Product dimensions: 7.32 (w) x 10.31 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Shelley Hales is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Bristol. She is the author of Roman Houses and Social Identity and is co-editor, with Joanna Paul, of Pompeii in the Public Imagination from its Rediscovery to Today.

Tamar Hodos is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol. Author of Local Responses to Colonization in the Iron Age Mediterranean, she co-directs the Caltilar (Lycia) project and serves on the editorial board of Anatolian Studies.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Theoretical Frameworks: 1. Local and global perspectives in the study of social and cultural identities Tamar Hodos; 2. (Re)defining ethnicity: culture, material culture, and identity Carla M. Antonaccio; 3. Cultural diversity and unity: empire and Rome Richard Hingley; Part II. Case Studies: 4. Ingenious inventions: welding ethnicities east and west Corinna Riva; 5. Shaping Mediterranean economy and trade: Phoenician cultural identities in the Iron Age Michael Sommer; 6. Samothrace: Samo- or Thrace? Petya Ilieva; 7. The big and beautiful women of Asia: ethnic conceptions of ideal beauty in Achaemenid-period seals and gemstones Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones; 8. Unintentionally being Lucanian: dynamics beyond hybridity Elena Isayev; 9. Tricks with mirrors: remembering the dead of Noricum Shelley Hales; 10. Neutral bodies? Female portrait statue types from the Late Republic into the 2nd century CE Annetta Alexandridis; Part III. Afterword: 11. Cultural crossovers: global and local identities in the classical world David Mattingly.
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