Mobility and Social Rank: Challenging Assumptions in pre-Roman Italy through the application of multi-isotope approach.
Material culture and burial have long been the basis for the identification of ancient ethnic groups and their social rank. However, the complexity of archaeological data has demonstrated that these one-to-one correspondences are not always so straightforward.
Previous scholarship identified “Villanovans” as ancestors to the “Etruscans”, since remains were often located beneath Etruscan sites and this relationship became a key reference point in the twentieth-century Italian debate. Outside the main distribution areas, sites with Villanovan material were considered “colonies” by most scholars and the site of Fermo in the Marche on one prominent example. The association of both Villanovan and local elements suggests the employment of cultural traditions and funerary customs (inhumation/cremation) from both groups, even though past scholars have often asserted the site is wholly Villanovan at least in the first phases.
My research will look at people mobility in Iron Age central Italy, and empty an integrated methodology which will use material culture and isotope ration analyses to explore whether this thesis can be further substantiated and it can be established that Villanovan identity was indeed a more complex phenomenon than has been assumed hitherto. In the process of disentangling the networks of identity embedded in death rituals, it will also show the benefits of a multidisciplinary study which integrates archaeology, science and theory.