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Este Blogue é um estudo da Associação Projecto Raia Alentejana e tem como objectivo a discussão da violência em geral e da guerra na Pré-História em particular. A Arqueologia da Península Ibérica tem aqui especial relevo. Esperamos cruzar dados de diferentes campos do conhecimento com destaque para a Antropologia Social. As críticas construtivas são bem vindas neste espaço, que se espera, de conhecimento.

Guerra Primitiva\Pré-Histórica
Violência interpessoal colectiva entre duas ou mais comunidades políticas distintas, com o uso de armas tendo como objectivo causar fatalidades, por um motivo colectivo sem hipótese de compensação.


Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Archaeology of Violence: An integrated approach to the study of violence and conflict

The Archaeology of Violence: An integrated approach to the study of violence and conflict
Second Visiting Scholar Spring Conference
April 18th – 19th 2009

Today, violence is an everyday occurrence and we are always reminded that violent encounters are never that far away. As a result, people have come to expect violence as part of everyday life. Whether experienced at the group or individual level, the ‘emotional, economic, demographic, logistic and political impact of violence reaches well beyond its physical location’ (Shiels et al. 2008).
This conference aims to consider the causes, actions and effects of violence through the study of skeletal remains, identity, literature, iconography, ritual behavior, and landscapes. Violence plays an important role in the development of social-political systems in the past and therefore, its archaeological identification is an essential part of our understanding of social change, both on a micro- as well as the macro-scale. Studying the material remains of violence allows us ‘to consider the importance of violent interaction and its impact upon family and settlement units; and to explore the function, causes and consequences of violent interaction in different groups and societies’ (Shiels et al. 2008).
The interdisciplinary nature of this conference will allow for a variety of research to be presented and will highlight the diversity of approaches to violence and the consequences for understanding social, political and economic relationships between individuals, kin, communities and society as a whole.
Shiels, D., L. Fibiger, W.O. Frazer and C. Murphy. 2008. Abstract for Session at WAC-6 “Changing identities: exploring the materiality of conflict I”.

Conference Participants
John Carman
Past War and European Identity: notes towards a new conception of European-ness
Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham, NY
Michael Carter
“Convince the People”: Violence and Roman Spectacle Entertainment in the Greek World
Department of Classics, Brock University , ON
Mike Galaty
“An offense to honor is never forgiven…”: Violence and Landscape Archaeology in Highland Northern Albania
Department of Anthropology, Millsaps College, MS
Simon James
Facing the sword: confronting the realities of martial violence and other mayhem, present and past
School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester, UK
Eamonn Kelly
An Archaeological Interpretation of Irish Iron Age Bog Bodies
Keeper of Irish Antiquities, National Museum of Ireland, Dublin
John Pollini
The Archaeology of Destruction: Christians, Images of Classical Antiquity, and Some Problems in Interpretation
Department of Art History, University of Southern California, CA
Anne Porter
The State of Sacrifice: Divine Power and Political Aspiration in third millennium Mesopotamia
School of Religion, University of Southern California, CA
Rebecca Redfern
Violence as an aspect of the Durotrige female life course
Centre for Human Bioarchaeology, Centre of Human Bioarchaeology, Museum of London, UK
Werner Riess
Cursing Democracy: The Magic of Binding Spells and Athenian Law Court Procedures
Department of Classics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Rick Schulting
Lex talionis, ‘an eye for an eye’?: Contexts for Violence in Neolithic Europe
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, UK
Tina Thurston
Artful Words: the public performance of conflict and resolution in Early Medieval Denmark
SUNY, University at Buffalo , NY
Helle Vankilde
Warfare and pre-state societies: 20th century presentations and recent archaeological research inquiries
Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Linguistics, Aarhus University, Denmark
Eric Varner
Violent Discourses: Visual Cannibalism and the Portraits of Rome’s ‘Bad’ Emperors
Departments of Art History and Classics, Emory University, GA
Mary Voigt
Ritual Murder and Sacrifice at Galatian Gordion (Turkey)
Department of Anthropology, College of William and Mary, VA



John Carman, Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham, UK
Past War and European Identity: notes towards a new conception of European-ness
The content of this paper has its origin in three sources:
An interest (first enunciated in my own contributions to the 1997 edited volume Material Harm) in offering a specifically archaeological contribution to debates about issues of major concern – especially war and violence;
Involvement with Belgian and other partners in a project to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Oudenaarde; and
Deriving from the latter, foundation of the group ESTOC (European Studies of Terrains of Conflict) which seeks to promote and develop the study and preservation of sites of past conflict in a way that emphasises the mutual involvement of the peoples of Europe.
The emergence of the European Union has led to European states no longer making war on each other. The long history of war in Europe, however, has had an inevitable impact upon European identities: from the emergence of city-states in Greece and Italy, through the rise of Athenian, Alexandrian and Roman Empires, to medieval feudalism and the modern nation state. However, the new peace that prevails has meant that in formulating a new sense of pan-European identity, past wars are treated as matters best left untouched lest they revive old hostilities.
The emergence of Conflict Archaeology as a sub-discipline has also meant, however, a renewed interest in past conflict among archaeologists in Europe. This has been confirmed by the formation of the ESTOC group which aims to promote the study of past conflict as a pan-European project. Drawing upon the aims and objectives of the ESTOC group, this paper will develop an approach to the archaeological study of conflict in Europe’s past that can contribute to the creation of a sense of identity in Europe that owes nothing to supra-nationalism, but meets the conditions of the era of pan-European concord. At the heart of this work lies the recognition that war creates as well as destroys: and it is by focussing upon the new things that conflict makes, that its study can play a part in constructing new senses of identity.
Michael Carter, Department of Classics, Brock University, ON
“Convince the People”: Violence and Roman Spectacle Entertainment in the Greek World
About ten years ago, G.W. Bowersock proposed that we should place the origins of the peculiar concept of Christian martyrdom more firmly in the context of Roman imperial society (specifically the period from ca. AD 50 to 150), rather than looking to Jewish (esp. Maccabean literature) or earlier events in the Christian community (Martyrdom and Rome,1995). In particular, Bowersock looks to the cities of Asia Minor where violent, spectacular (Roman) entertainment had come to play a central role in the formation of civic identity and the relationship of the city (and province) to the wider Empire. Bowersock then went on to demonstrate that the Christians and the martyrs themselves conceived of the act of martyrdom as a form of public entertainment offered by God to the world: like a victorious athlete or gladiator, the martyr is the star of the show. More recently, C. Frilingos has also proposed the Roman games, particularly those in the cities of Asia Minor, as a plausible context for reading the Book of Revelation (Spectacles of Empire, 2004).
While these theories have sparked some debate, it has mostly concerned what it means for our understanding of Christian martyrdom and vision. I propose to examine the civic role of violent, spectacular entertainment. These spectacles involved wild beast fights/hunts, executions and gladiatorial combats originated in Italy. Once, scholars believed that the spread of these violent spectacles to the Greek world was imposed by the Romans and considered them a sign of the Romanization of the Greek world. Scholars now view the situation as more complex: the local and provincial Greek elite provided the shows and the proud Greek citizens of the various cites filled the seats to watch. I would especially like to discuss the participation of the crowd as both witnesses of the violent shows and as participants in them. By watching the shows and approving of the violence, they in some senses become participants in it. But more than this, the crowd often played a more active role: it was the crowd who decided whether a gladiator had earned his release or not and the crowd who often decided a condemned man's fate. I shall examine this phenomenon using a variety of evidence, literary, archaeological (reliefs, mosaics etc) and especially epigraphic.
Michael L. Galaty, Department of Anthropology, Millsaps College, MS
“An offense to honor is never forgiven…”: Violence and Landscape Archaeology in Highland Northern Albania
Northern Albania is the only place in southern Europe where tribal societies survived intact into the 20th century, including tribal councils and chiefs, an oral customary law code (the Kanuni i Lekë Dukagjini), and blood feuds and warfare. Since 2004 the Shala Valley Project (SVP) has studied one of these tribes, the Shala, whose tribal territory encompasses the upper reaches of the Shala River. The SVP supports interdisciplinary programs of archaeological, ethnographic, and ethno- and archival historical research. In three seasons of fieldwork (2005-2007), 999 fields were subjected to intensive archaeological survey, 580 structures were mapped and fully documented, and 36 heads of household participated in detailed formal interviews. Three historians accessed documents pertaining to northern Albania housed in Albania, Austria, Italy, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Taken together, these data paint an interesting picture of the origins and evolution of the Shala tribe, beginning in the 15th century AD through the present day. Fully interpreting this picture, however, is almost impossible without considering the effects of violence. In this paper I consider the various ways Shala’s tribal system and shifting settlement patterns are reflected in the regional landscape, and how these responded to endemic violence, including feud and warfare. It seems likely that violence worked to relieve demographic and economic pressure, which was critically important given Shala’s harsh environment, but that contests between individuals and clans, for access to social and political power, underpinned most incidents of feud and decisions to go to war. Our work in Shala helps demonstrate the various impacts violence may have had on settlement and landscape the world over, in periods of prehistory and history, and demonstrates the power of integrated approaches to violence and conflict to inform archaeological data.
Simon James, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester, UK
Facing the sword: confronting the realities of martial violence and other mayhem, present and past
This gathering is especially welcome, as it offers an opportunity to address a major gap in contemporary archaeology: the failure to establish a mature discourse on violence. Keeley’s War Before Civilization chimed with my own exasperation during the 1980s and 90s that, in mainstream British Iron Age and Roman archaeology, anything relating to violence was either ignored or downplayed. More researchers are now addressing such matters, but archaeological treatments still often betray a lack of clear thinking. We can see this, for example, in frequent equation of violence with war, and its conflation into the latter. Yet in many cultural contexts, even what I term martial violence (i.e. that dealt by soldiers and warriors, at least ostensibly on behalf of a polity) is far from confined to warfare. This is abundantly clear from the history of the profoundly hierarchical, slave-owning Roman world, which equally illustrates on the grandest scale that violence extends far beyond the martial. Such observations should be banalities, but these matters frequently get airbrushed out of our pictures of past cultures. Unlike other key aspects of human history, violence is not fully theorised in archaeology. We need to address this; and to do so we need to understand why such a situation prevails.
The Roman world in the widest sense, including societies which interacted with the evolving Roman polity—republic, empire and early Byzantium—provides an especially valuable and relevant cultural milieu, or group of overlapping cultural contexts. These are at once familiar, but also distant and different, ranging from prehistoric ‘warrior societies’ (in Iron Age Italy and the northern ‘barbarian’ cultures Rome fought and in part absorbed), to fully literate urban states (from Greeks to Sasanian Persians). Not least, it also incorporates a key phase in the history of Judaism, and the birth of Christianity, both transformed by Roman state violence. The Judaeo-Christian and Classical traditions form the two pillars on which modern western civilization and scholarship were built. Rome itself gave us the central term and concept of this conference: the English word ‘violence’ derives from Latin and further, its pejorative connotation from Roman usage.
Violence was central to the creation and continuance of Roman civilization, yet many Roman archaeologists do not discuss it. This is partly due to the paradoxical sparseness and subtlety of material evidence in many regions in most periods, even where texts attest massive or chronic violence. But are researchers alert for it? Many prefer to focus the urban and artistic glories of the ‘Roman Peace’. Even specialist military archaeologists tend to avoid the realities of what they are dealing with, focussing on army organization and infrastructure—anything but bloodshed itself. Why?
It is clear enough that this ‘silence on violence’ relates to modern western cultural abhorrence of bloodshed. In academic fields like archaeology, violence has become the kind of taboo, or elephant in the room, which sex was to Victorians (at least, in public). We are still waking up to the extent to which this relatively recent development has been constraining our discourse and research, not least through fear of what peers and publics might think of our motives.
We would probably all agree on the desirability of developing relations within and between societies which rely on persuasion, consent and collaboration, and elimination of coercion and violence. We might also agree that at least partial establishment of such conditions in much of the modern world represents a significant human achievement. Yet archaeologists also need to face up to the centrality of brutality and bloodshed to most human societies over history. It is a profound error to treat all violence as pathology, or deviation from a peaceful norm. Almost universally, violence has been a standard tool and strategy in social and political relations which, while commonly relying on both coercion and cooperation, tended to place far more emphasis on open force than we do. It is therefore an issue which archaeologists are obliged to confront, if we truly seek holistic understanding of past humanity. The Buffalo meeting promises to be an important step towards this goal.
Eamonn P. Kelly, Keeper of Irish Antiquities, National Museum of Ireland, Dublin
An Archaeological Interpretation of Irish Iron Age Bog Bodies
Up to one hundred men, women and children, dating to all periods, have been found in Irish peat bogs. Eight bog bodies have been dated to the Early Iron Age and other undated remains may also date to the same period. What characterises Iron Age finds and sets them apart from other bog bodies is the fact that they represent ritual killings.
Two finds made in 2003 have produced important new information. Clonycavan Man had lain in a bog on the Meath county border with Westmeath and although machinery has damaged the body from the waist down and removed the hands, the internal organs are preserved partially and the head is intact with a clearly distinguishable face and a very distinctive hairstyle. On the back of the head the hair was cut to about an inch long with the rest of the hair, which was about a foot long, gathered into a bundle on the top of his head. The hair was held in place by the application of a sort of hair jell made from resin imported from France or Spain. Clonycavan man was of slight build and his stature is estimated to lie in the range from 5 foot 2 inches to five feet nine inches tall. He was killed by a series of blows to his head and chest, probably from an axe and suffered a 40cm long cut to his abdomen, suggesting disembowelment.
By contrast, a powerfully built body found at Oldcroghan, Co. Offaly was estimated at about 6 foot 3 inches tall. The remains consist of a severed torso that had been decapitated, however the surviving part of the body was in remarkable condition with superbly preserved hands and intact internal organs. On the right arm was a plaited leather armband with metal mounts. By contract with his normal meat-rich diet, Oldcroghan Man ate a final meal of cereals and buttermilk. His upper arms had been pierced and withies had been inserted into the holes. Examination of his hands showed that Oldcroghan Man did not undertake manual work and his fingernails were carefully manicured. A stab wound to his chest killed Oldcroghan man and a defence wound on one arm indicates that he tried to fend off the fatal blow. He was then decapitated and his thorax severed from his abdomen. The nipples of both Oldcroghan Man and Clonycavan Man had been cut partially and both have been radiocarbon dated to between 400-200 BC.
The body of an adult male found in Derryvarroge bog, Co, Kildare in 2007 has been dated to between 228-343 AD. The remains were damaged by peat harvesting machinery and investigation of the body is ongoing. Research suggests that all of the Iron Age bog bodies were placed on ancient tribal boundaries and that the victims were sacrificed as part of a Kingship and Sovereignty ritual. Other categories of votive may also to be connected with the ritual.
John Pollini, Department of Art History, University of Southern California, CA
The Archaeology of Destruction: Christians, Images of Classical Antiquity, and Some Problems in Interpretation
Christian iconoclasm has long been a subject of great interest and scholarly discussion. The term “Christian iconoclasm” has generally been used to characterize Christian destruction of Christian sacred images as a result of the so-called “iconoclastic debate,” a euphemism for the “iconomachy” that raged du ring the eighth and ninth centuries. This “battle over images” was fought by iconophiles, who wanted to keep images of the Christian god and their saints as part of the Church’s tradition, and the iconoclasts, who felt that such sacred images were in violation of the biblical ban on images stated in the Ten Commandments. The iconomachy that ensued resulted in much violence and bloodshed, nearly tearing apart the Eastern Orthodox Church in the process. A great deal of scholarship has likewise been focused on the Christian iconoclasm that recurred periodically in the modern era, beginning with the Protestant reformation. However, remarkably little attention has been focused on the considerable amount of Christian destruction and desecration of images of classical antiquity that took place in Late Antique times, roughly from the fourth to at least the sixth century. Although Christian violence against images of the gods and the polytheists who worshiped or revered them is recorded in various passages in the histories and hagiographies of the Late Antique period, there has been no comprehensive study of this phenomenon, especially from an archaeological point of view.
In both scholarship and popular culture, Christianity has generally been seen a positive force that was responsible for the preservation of the literature, art, and architecture of the classical past. Rarely acknowledged is the vast amount of literary and visual material that Christians destroyed and desecrated. In fact, some scholars have even interpreted the Christianization of the Roman Empire as a largely peaceful process. But even though the written and archaeological record tells a very different story, the material evidence for Christian destruction and desecration has often been overlooked or unrecognized even by archaeologists. This paper focuses on the question of the nature of the evidence for Christian violence against images of classical antiquity in the late antique period, a s well as some of the attendant problems in detecting and making sense of this phenomenon. Based on our evidence for all forms of Christian destruction, the question that ultimately needs to be addressed is whether or to what extent the Christianization of the Roman Empire was a change for the better or worse from what had gone before. This talk is based on Professor Pollini’s present book project, “Christian Destruction and Desecration of Images of Classical Antiquity: A Study in Religious Intolerance and Violence in the Ancient World.”
Anne Porter, School of Religion, University of Southern California, CA
The State of Sacrifice: Divine Power and Political Aspiration in third millennium Mesopotamia
In focusing on the socio-political ramifications of sacrifice, the human manipulations of diverse bodies in the accomplishment of human goals, we ignore to our detriment the power of the divine and the ontological frameworks in which sacrifice is constituted. The two of course are by no means mutually exclusive, but neither is one more real, more important than the other. Recent work shows that the bodies created through practices known as “retainer sacrifice,” traditionally understood as the manifestation of social status and political power by dominant elites who could command the very existence of those beneath them, were critical to the performance of funerary and post-funerary mortuary rituals that included parades, pilgrimages and feasts. But that those rituals were in the first place considered necessary has little to do with only secular concerns because they produced and reproduced proper relationships between the living and the dead, the divine and the mundane, cosmological relationships which for the Mesopotamian constituted daily reality. Living people usually comprised the processual and feasting components of mortuary ritual so the question then is why sometimes were the dead deliberately made in order to fulfill this role? Killing, the essence of discourses where sacrifice is power, seems not to be foregrounded in Mesopotamian practice. It never occurs in iconography or text, nor do we have its archaeological attestation in the form of the loci where it was conducted, or, as in earlier periods, refuse pits where its remains were tossed. This is in contrast to parts of the Americas, for example, where grotesque iconographic representations of killing far exceed its archaeological reality. In Mesopotamia instead, sacrifice exists only as mortuary depositions which are themselves the locus of mediation between planes of existence and kinds of being. That sacrifice is understood as the appropriate means to accomplish Mesopotamian cosmological relationships is I suggest because of that element it entails present in no other form of self-denial, gift-giving, or worship: that is, blood. Blood is significant because it is the basis of kinship, and socially-constructed kinship, itself the basis of much political and social interaction, is frequently made through the spilling of blood (although only a small amount of it is required). Sacrifice is in Mesopotamia therefore the creation of kinship between humans and other worldly beings. Why then is it so rare an occurrence?
Rebecca Redfern, Centre for Human Bioarchaeology, Museum of London, UK
Violence as an aspect of the Durotrige female life course
This research explores the role of violence in the life course of late Iron Age Durotrige females from Dorset, England (4th century B.C. to the 1st century B.C./A.D.). A life course approach was used, because it provides a social framework with which to understand female lives from birth to death, and the approach recognises the importance of gender and social status in shaping people’s lives and health (World Health Organization 2001, 12-14). The Durotrige female life course has been reconstructed using Hamlin’s (2007) analysis of late Iron Age funerary practices. This research concluded that age was the determining factor in these rites, and the work provides a framework with which to understand the bioarchaeological evidence for female trauma.
It is considered that the application of a life course approach to the analysis of fractures and weapon injuries in females, provides a more nuanced and holistic understanding of their exposure to and participation in violent acts. As contemporary social science research has shown that in comparison to males, violence in female lives is more complex as it arises from tensions between female aspirations and proscribed gender roles, it largely occurs in the private social sphere, and for many females it becomes endemic in their daily lives. This gender difference has created a separate definition of female-directed violence as ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women’ (Watts and Zimmerman 2002).
This paper will discuss how violence affected Durotrige females by examining different age-groups in terms of injury prevalence and mortality risk, trauma patterns and weapon types, and how these results correspond to our understanding of the female life course and gender roles in the late Iron Age of Dorset.
References
Hamlin, C. 2007. The Material Expression of Social Change: Mortuary in Late Pre-Roman and Roman Dorset. Ph.D thesis, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
Watts, C. and Zimmerman, C. 2002. Violence against women: global scope and magnitude. The Lancet 359.6, 1232-1237.
World Health Organization 2001. Men, ageing and health. Achieving health across the lifespan. Geneva: World Health Organization.
Werner Riess, Department of Classics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC
Cursing Democracy: The Magic of Binding Spells and Athenian Law Court Procedures
This paper challenges the scholarly consensus that the violence inscribed in fourth-century BCE curse tablets is minor. A fresh reading of the sources indicates that at least ten percent of the extant tablets were meant to be lethal, and further investigation suggests that the violence expressed in these curses was more severe than scholars have surmised so far. In addition, this paper will connect binding magic with Athenian democratic principles. It will become clear that binding magic reflects and even is parallel to some cultural practices of Athenian democracy.
According to Faraone, early binding spells were merely protective. A re-evaluation of the extant 270 curse tablets, however, reaches different conclusions. Notwithstanding the formulaic texts, some tablets display a more violent language than others. These are not prayers for justice, a category of curses established by Versnel, in which the expression of brutal sentiments was more common than in mainstream binding spells, but ordinary binding curses. Archaeological remains, such as the burying of a figurine in a little coffin or the placing of a tablet into the right hand of the corpse, provide additional evidence of intended violence. A new interpretation of the similia similibus function, the transference of a quality to the victim (“X is to become like lead”), the dedication of a victim to the gods (the Greek verbs used correspond to the devotio in Latin, which was always meant to be lethal), and a more comprehensive translation of the preposition pros, which occurs twenty six times in the corpus and denotes a downward movement toward the gods of the underworld, strongly suggest that the curses were more malevolent than hitherto thought.
Particularly striking are the many analogies between binding magic and the law court system, and thus Athenian democratic practices in general. I shall focus on one example: the semantics of binding and imprisonment are one and the same. The criminals bound in Athens and handed over the Eleven were kakourgoi, mostly killers and robbers. They were either immediately executed or put into prison to face trial and execution. The curse victims awaited trial in a twofold sense. Judicial curses were deposited before real trials took place. Moreover, the victims were bound, metaphorically, to be judged in front of the invoked gods of the underworld. With the curser representing the plaintiff in court, the gods standing for the judges, and the dead symbolizing the subordinate position and functions of the Eleven, the whole process of cursing was analogous to the system of law.
Beneath the seemingly harmless texts on the tablets there are hidden structures of underlying aggression encapsulated within the broad semantics of binding. Since the violence perpetrated through magic was mediated violence, it was acceptable even under the stipulations of the amnesty of 404/3 BCE. Binding spells were safety valves not only for disconcerted individual temperaments, but also for a whole society under the pressure of avoiding open violence. In this sense, the curse tablets were a psychological, social, and political necessity under the refined conditions of post-amnesty democracy.
Rick Schulting, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, UK
Lex talionis, ‘an eye for an eye’?: Contexts for Violence in Neolithic Europe
Interpersonal violence is a powerful form of social interaction, involved in the creation and maintenance of identity at various levels, from societal to personal. Accessing the myriad ways in which violence is employed and experienced through the archaeological record is a particularly challenging enterprise, one requiring the integration of various lines of evidence, foremost among which is the trauma recorded on human skeletal remains themselves.
Despite the apparent absence of formal and specialized weaponry, there is considerable skeletal evidence for interpersonal violence in the European Neolithic (ca. 5500-2500 BC). The nature and contexts of these episodes of violence can be shown to vary, and at one level seem to have much in common with conflict as seen in small-scale societies ethnographically. This observation, together with Raymond Kelly’s notion of social substitution and the central role of revenge, encapsulated in the expression lex talionis (‘an eye for an eye’), provides a useful way of understanding some aspects of between-group conflict, linking violence to wider social identities. These ideas are developed here, and extended to the changing roles and nature of conflict in the Bronze Age, marked by the first appearance of specialized weaponry and an ideology centered around the image of a male warrior élite.
Tina Thurston, Department of Anthropology, SUNY University at Buffalo, NY
Artful Words: the public performance of conflict and resolution in Early Medieval Denmark
Despite modern notions of cultural homogeneity in southern Scandinavia, substantial ethnic differences characterized its Iron Age and early Medieval populations. Creation of a unified state from earlier social formations ignited rifts leading to social disorder, rebellion, and uprising during a transitional era when upper and lower classes felt these changes most sharply. Ethnohistoric evidence preserves a record of ritualized public performances by state and local leaders, revealing relationships that shifted between fear, negotiation, challenge, and defiance. This is compared against archaeological evidence of widespread, rapid changes in settlement organization in some regions, and relative stability in others, interpreted as outcomes of unsuccessful and successful challenges to state authority. Groups electing to use violent conflict in challenging the state, who also had histories of intergroup interaction, were better able to preserve autonomy then those attempting legalistic arguments and ‘rational’ negotiations. Data are interpreted in light of ethnographic case studies and contemporary social theory.
Helle Vandkilde, Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Linguistics, Aarhus University, Denmark
Warfare and pre-state societies: 20th century presentations and recent archaeological research inquiries
The objective of this paper is twofold. First, it explores how and why war, warriors and warfare have been omitted, or incorporated, in archaeological discourses of pre-state societies. Second, the archaeological sources are consulted in an attempt to illuminate the actual position and significance of warfare and warriorhood in some prehistoric communities in Europe.
Two opposing myths have long characterised archaeology – one of them regarding prehistory as populated with potentially violent warriors who repeatedly changed society, the other presenting prehistory as populated with peaceful peasants in harmonious and static societies. Interestingly, war and warfare did not become an established area of study until the past decade (from c. 1995), and it must be assumed that the many ethnic wars and genocides of the 1990s as well as the massive media coverage have played a decisive role. The horror and awful chaos of war are now analysed in social anthropological studies, whereas it might be claimed that archaeological studies still do not portray prehistoric war realistically enough, probably because the discourse is still influenced by some myths of heroic warrior elites.
The last part of the paper examines selected archaeological data from a more explicitly theoretical perspective: weaponry in itself, weapon technology, weaponry in burials and votive deposits, fortifications, skeletal trauma, and iconographic presentations. The aim is here to find a more true answer to the question of whether war – and associated identities – was present or absent in temperate Europe before the state. It will here be suggested that both the ideal and real sides of war and warriors in prehistory should be studied, and also that interpretative stereotypes can be avoided through the use of theories that view human agents as interacting both routinely and strategically within societal networks.
Eric R. Varner, Departments of Art History and Classics, Emory University, GA
Violent Discourses: Visual Cannibalism and the Portraits of Rome’s ‘Bad’ Emperors
The mutilated and altered images of Rome’s ‘bad’ emperors vividly narrate the violent political transitions that characterized regime change in ancient Rome. Beginning with Caligula, portraits of overthrown rulers were subjected to anthropomorphic attacks. Eyes, mouths and ears were mutilated in an effort to deprive imperial effigies of any metaphorical ability to see, speak or hear. These attacks were also closely related to the desecration of corpses (poena post mortem) carried out against the remains of capital offenders and others whose status as noxii made their physical bodies especially liable to violation. Similarly, full length statues could be decapitated mirroring another form of corpse abuse as well as capital punishment. Mutilated and headless images remained on public view as potent markers of posthumous denigration.While the desecration of portraits weaves a rather unambiguous narrative of political permutation, their revision into new likenesses recounts more complex negotiations of imperial identity and authority. In the early empire, vast numbers of marble representations of Caligula, Nero, and Domitian were refashioned into new depictions of victorious predecessors or revered predecessors. These new images visually cannibalized the power of the original.
The alteration of portraits, however, was not a simple act of obliteration, as the likeness of one emperor replaced another. Refashioned likenesses often left legible traces of their reconfiguration, which enabled astute viewers to decipher the portrait cannibalism which had occurred. The mutilation and transformation of imperial images constituted a dynamic and lasting corollary to real political violence in an ongoing struggle as living and dead emperors vied for legitimacy.
Mary M. Voigt, Department of Anthropology, College of William and Mary, VA
Ritual Murder and Sacrifice at Galatian Gordion (Turkey)
Much of the evidence for a Celtic presence in central Anatolia during Hellenistic times comes from texts. Livy clearly places one group of these immigrants (who referred to themselves as Galatians) at Gordion, which he described as an “oppidum” or fortress and a market town in the early second century. Excavations carried out on the Citadel Mound at Gordion between 1950 and 2002 have exposed large areas of a Later Hellenistic settlement that was founded in the mid-3rd century BCE and finally abandoned in the late second century. Material remains that can be linked to Iron Age sites in Europe include a La Tene button and iron fibula and sculptures in a style that can be paralleled at La Tene sites in France. In a low, walled area adjacent to settlement were found deposits of human and animal bone that can only be interpreted as the physical remains of ritual practices. These practices include decapitation and the display of trophy skulls, decapitation and the careful rearrangement of body parts, incorporation of human remains with those of a large number of domestic animals, and strangulation. Most of the human remains were left on the surface and were eventually buried by silt washing off the nearby enclosure wall. The individuals in this group included males and females, and some very young children. This paper presents the material evidence for ritual at Celtic Gordion, and possible interpretations for this evidence in the light of documentary sources that describe Celtic practices in Europe and Anatolia.

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