Production, consumption and society in north Etruria during the archaic and classical periods: the world of Lars Porsenna Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Becker, Hilary Wills
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Classics
  • The last decade has witnessed increased interest in the economy of various areas of the ancient Mediterranean, illuminating both the interconnectedness of the Mediterranean world as well as the dynamics of economy at a regional level. A holistic study of the economy of Etruria, one of the maritime cultures of the Mediterranean, has never been undertaken. My research begins to address this lacuna, focusing on the economy of North Etruria in the archaic and classical periods (600-300 B.C.). This study considers for the first time the mechanisms that drove the North Etruscan economy as well as the society and settlements that supported it. One of the central themes of this investigation involves contextualizing the economy within the society in which it worked. Considering society and economy in tandem can be informative when considering issues such as— whether there were slaves, how the labor force and armies were organized and who owned property. One of the interesting observations that can be drawn from this study is the permeability of professions that was possible. Until the Hellenistic period, North Etruria’s economy functioned without a regular currency, a reality that prompts a consideration of pre-monetary exchange. By looking at evidence for social exchange among the elites, using such customs as banquets, gift exchange and hospitality, I review some of the means by which goods circulated. And while evidence for markets has never been gathered before, I reconstruct a system of periodic markets that facilitated the circulation of goods at the regional level. Through these investigations and others, it becomes apparent that many, often overlapping mechanisms facilitated exchange. Cities, elite family clans and even sanctuaries are important economic agents in Etruria, but the specific role of each, including how each contributes to the redistribution of resources has not been explored before. Before this study, much of the economic agency might have been attributed to the city alone, but such a reading seems too one-dimensional now. This study takes advantage of economic models and observations made for other pre-Industrial economies in order to present new perspectives on the economy of this important region.
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  • Terrenato, Nicola
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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