An Archaeology of Prehistoric Bodies and Embodied Identities in the Eastern Mediterranean [Hardback]

Maria Mina (Editor); Sevi Triantaphyllou (Editor); Yiannis Papadatos (Editor)

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ISBN: 9781785702914 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2016 | Language: English 248p, H279 x W215 (mm) b/w

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An Archaeology of Prehistoric Bodies and Embodied Identities in the Eastern Mediterranean


In the long tradition of the archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean bodies have held a prominent role in the form of figurines, frescos, or skeletal remains, and have even been responsible for sparking captivating portrayals of the Mother-Goddess cult, the elegant women of Minoan Crete or the deeds of heroic men. Growing literature on the archaeology and anthropology of the body has raised awareness about the dynamic and multifaceted role of the body in experiencing the world and in the construction, performance and negotiation of social identity.

In these 28 thematically arranged papers, specialists in the archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean confront the perceived invisibility of past bodies and ask new research questions. Contributors discuss new and old evidence; they examine how bodies intersect with the material world, and explore the role of body-situated experiences in creating distinct social and other identities. Papers range chronologically from the Palaeolithic to the Early Iron Age and cover the geographical regions of the Aegean, Cyprus and the Near East. They highlight the new possibilities that emerge for the interpretation of the prehistoric eastern Mediterranean through a combined use of body-focused methodological and theoretical perspectives that are nevertheless grounded in the archaeological record.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements (M. Mina, S. Triantaphyllou, Y. Papadatos)
Introduction: The archaeology of bodies and the Eastern Mediterranean (J. Robb)
The Represented Body
1.  Polydactyly in Chalcolithic figurines from Cyprus (M. Gamble, C. Winkelmann, S. Fox)
2.  Figurines, paint and the perception of the body in the Early Bronze Age southern Aegean (Y. Papadatos)
3.  Thoughts on the funerary use of the Early Bronze Age (EBA) Cycladic figurines: iconography, form, context and embodied lives (D. Goula)
4. Composite, partial, created and floating bodies: a re-assessment of the Knossos Temple Repositories Assemblage (A. Simandiraki-Grimshaw and F. Stevens)
5.  Figurines and complex identities in Late Bronze Age Cyprus (D. Knox)
6.  Handlers and viewers. Some remarks on the process of perception of terracotta figurines on the example of Cypriot ‘Goddesses with Upraised Arms’ (K. Zeman-Wiśniewska)
Material Culture and the Construction of Identities
7.  Re-making the self: bodies, identities and materialities in Chalcolithic Cyprus (D. Bolger)
8.  Pots and people: an investigation of individual and collective identities in Early Bronze Age Cyprus (J. Webb)
9.  Dressed to impress: metal objects and embodied identities in Early and Middle Bronze Age Cyprus (M. Mina)
10.  Placed with care: interaction with decorated Mycenaean metal vessels (S. Aulsebrook)
Ritualised Practice and the Performance of Identities
11.  The performative body and social identity in the room of the fresco at Mycenae (A. Chapin)
12.  “It’s war, not a dance”: polarising embodied identities in the eastern Mediterranean from the end of the Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age, 1200–700 BC (M. Mikrakis)
13.  Nuptial vases in female tombs? Aspects of funerary behaviour during the Late Geometric Period in Attica (V. Vlachou)
14.  Turning into stone: rock art and the construction of identities in ancient Thrace (S. Pilavaki)
Embodied Knowledge through Technology and Space
15.  Lithics and identity at the Middle Palaeolithic site of Lakonis Cave I, Southern Peloponnese, Greece (P. Elefanti and E. Panagopoulou)
16.  Picrolite and other stone beads and pendants: new forms in an old material during the transition from the Chalcolithic to the Cypriote Bronze Age (G. Georgiou)
17.  The embodiment of land ownership in the Aegean Early Bronze Age (O. Kouka)
18.  From potter’s mark to the potter who marks (K. Christakis)
The Lived Body and Identities
19. Grasping identity: theoretically informed human bioarchaeology in or for the Eastern Mediterranean (K. Lorentz)
20.  Headshaping and identity at Tell Nader (K. Kopanias and S. Fox)
21.  Constructing identities by ageing the body in the prehistoric Aegean: the view through the human remains (S. Triantaphyllou)
Interaction with the Dead Body
22.  Secondary burials and the construction of group identities in Crete between the second half of the 4th and 2nd millennia BC (L. Girella and S. Todaro)
23.  Bodies in a pickle: burial jars, individualism and group identities in Middle Minoan Crete (B. Legarra Herrero)
24.  Fire, fragmentation and the body in the Late Bronze Age Aegean (Y. Galanakis)
25.  Spatial and temporal variability in identity and representation within the Bronze Age cemeteries of Knossos, Crete (E. Hatzaki)
26.  Collective selves and funerary rituals. Early Mycenaean dromoi as spaces of negotiation and embodiment of social identities (N. Papadimitriou)
27.  Burning people, breaking things: material entanglements, the Bronze Age/Iron Age transition and the Homeric dividual (J. Whitley)
28.  Epilogue: Bodies in the Eastern Mediterranean (K. Kotsakis)

Reviews & Quotes

"By breaking regional and chronological barriers, the editors have succeeded in bringing together twenty–nine contributions that cover a variety of perspectives on the perception, construction and performance of prehistoric identities and provide a useful overview of the complexity and plurality of these notions in the eastern Mediterranean."
Crysanthi Gallou
Journal of Greek Archaeology (19/11/2018)

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