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The construction of personhood in Veneto (Italy) between the late Bronze Age and the early Roman period

This research offers a theoretically informed application of the concept of 'personhood' to archaeology by analysing the rich funerary record of Veneto (1050 BC - AD 25). Anthropologically, ‘personhood’ is understood as a moral categorization discriminating between the individuals given full or partial membership in society and those denied it. Today, the ascription of personhood to subjects such as foetuses and brain-dead patients is an issue painfully at the core of debates over human rights, female reproductive concerns and the acceptable limits of the control that states and individuals can achieve over the human body. Within this framework, I explore whether practices relating to personhood in 1st millennium BC Veneto – albeit concerned with different issues than those of modern Western cultures – were equally embedded in a social milieu entailing elite control over subordinates, reproduction of inequalities and exclusion of marginal individuals from the centre of society. My argument is that Venetic cemeteries were ritual spaces actively structured to enhance inequality ideologically. Therefore, I argue that differences in funerary treatment offer important glimpses into the degree of social recognition granted to the deceased. Methodologically, I use a set of different databases holding complete information on over 1,500 graves from the entire region to develop statistical, contextual and spatial analysis of the evidence. Data drawn from such an analysis are plotted on maps of the cemeteries to show how burials with specific characteristics were purposely arranged in the graveyard in order to delineate the degree of social inclusion granted to each individual. Overall, I demonstrate that Venetic personhood was hierarchical and changeable over time due to the socio-political development of this region. In particular, I suggest that not all Venetic individuals were granted complete social integration, depending on their gender, age, rank and family affiliation; importantly, this changed through time, especially after crucial historical turning points, including Rome’s conquest of Veneto.
Date January 2012
CreatorsPerego, E. M.
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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