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Department of Archaeology

Thursday, 22 November, 2018 - 13:00
Event speaker: 
Lorenzo Mazzotta (University of Pisa)

The topic will be analysed from two main points of view: 

a) Modalities of arrival and distribution on the basis of the Ugaritic economic texts 

This part of the paper analyses the possible modalities of arrival and distribution of the Aegean and Cypriot ceramic materials in the Ugaritic society on the basis of the economic texts dating between 14th and 12th centuries B.C. The arrival of these ceramic classes seems to be due to the economic role of the Ugaritic merchant élites, which acted in connection both with the palace and with other international élites, in particular Cypriot merchants. The distribution in the site of these materials seems to be connected to the economic relations between the Ugaritic merchant élites and the non-élite parts of the society. This system allows to understand the noteworthy absence of any reference to Aegean merchants in the Ugaritic textual evidence and to shed light on the symbolic meanings which these ceramic materials had in the Ugaritic society. 

b) Functional analysis of ceramic materials from urban and funerary contexts: use and social significance 

The focus of this part of the paper is the social significance of Aegean and Cypriot ceramics in the city’s fabric at Ugarit, from a strict archaeological perspective. To this end, the results of functional analyses carried out on ceramic materials from carefully selected Ugaritic settings are presented. Results obtained from this functional analysis point to a very clear relationship between function and specific social groups. Aegean and Cypriot ceramics have been recovered in various archaeological settings within Ugarit, linked to vastly different social groups. The distribution of these ceramics is therefore not homogenous, but rather appears to be tied to specific patterns of functional use. This leads to hypothesizing the existence of at least two levels of symbolic importance bestowed upon Aegean and Cypriot ceramics: one tied to the city’s élite, the other to Ugarit citizens of a lower social standing. Among the former, possession of exotic wares would have been a way to display their direct participation in international trade, whereas among the latter it displays an indirect and second-hand participation in the same network. 

Event location: 
Henry Wellcome Building Seminar Room
Geographical areas: 
Mesopotamia and the Near East
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Periods of interest: 
Copper/Bronze Age
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