Ornella Prato (UCL) - 2017-18 Students

Intertwined lives in the Mediterranean: Humans and animals at Etruscan Tarquinia

Alongside Rome, Central Tyrrhenian Italy (Etruria) is an absolutely key region for understanding socio-cultural change in 1st millennium BC Mediterranean. The profound transformations that this region underwent had critical repercussions across the basin. Etruscan Tarquinia is a major pre-Roman city, undoubtedly one of the most influential sites of the Mediterranean. Analysing how its population perceived and assimilated social and cultural change in their environment is crucial to assessing the broader picture of the region that includes Rome.

The aim of this project is to explore the interaction between humans and their environment through the investigation of human-animal relationships at UNESCO site of Tarquinia. The city offers the largest and best preserved collection of bones and material culture dated from the 10th to 1st century BC. A central aspect of the research is the interdisciplinary approach that aims to grasp the physical interaction with animals and the socio-cultural conceptualization of these by combining zooarchaeological and iconographic analysis of animals.

Human–animal relationships have the potential to reveal all aspects (economic, social and ecological) of past human behaviour. In particular, in Mediterranean antiquity and in Etruria, animals were crucial in determining how to act socially and politically, as they were sacrificed and examined to infer gods’ will. The study of human-animal interaction is thus a powerful entry into the study of human behaviour and the perception of nature.

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