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Archaeology of Violence, The

Interdisciplinary Approaches

Edited by Sarah Ralph

Publication Year: 2012

Interdisciplinary study of the role of violence in the Mediterranean and Europe. The Archaeology of Violence is an interdisciplinary consideration of the role of violence in social-cultural and sociopolitical contexts. The volume draws on the work of archaeologists, anthropologists, classicists, and art historians, all of whom have an interest in understanding the role of violence in their respective specialist fields in the Mediterranean and Europe. The focus is on three themes: contexts of violence, politics and identities of violence, and sanctified violence. In contrast to many past studies of violence, often defined by their subject specialism, or by a specific temporal or geographic focus, this book draws on a wide range of both temporal and spatial examples and offers new perspectives on the study of violence and its role in social and political change. Rather than simply equating violence with warfare, as has been done in many archaeological cases, the volume contends that the focus on warfare has been to the detriment of our understanding of other forms of “non-warfare” violence and has the potential to affect the ways in which violence is recognized and discussed by scholars, and ultimately has repercussions for understanding its role in society.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: The Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology Distinguished Monograph Series


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pp. c-ii

The Archaeology of Violence Interdisciplinary Approaches

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-viii


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pp. ix-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

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Chapter One: Introduction: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of Violence

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pp. 1-14

As a modern society, we are continuously reminded of the threat, action, and consequences of violence. Global news and media coverage means violence can be experienced closer in space and time, and in some instances people may decide to visit places associated with death and violence to experience for themselves the locations where such acts occurred...

Section I: The Contexts of Violence

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pp. 16-18

Several papers in this section focus on the importance of warfare in the past. These are Rick Schulting’s paper on Neolithic conflict and Vandkilde’s discussion of Bronze Age warfare. Two other papers—Simon James’s “Facing the Sword: Confronting the Realities of Martial Violence and Other Mayhem, Present and Past” and Rebecca Redfern’s “Violence as...

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Chapter Two: War Without Warriors?: The Nature of Interpersonal Conflict before the Emergence of Formalized Warrior Elites

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pp. 19-36

The European Neolithic provides a rich resource for the study of interpersonal violence in prehistory. The lack of written records means that the only surviving evidence comes from material culture (including architecture), settlement patterns, rare iconography, and, as emphasized here, skeletal remains. In contrast to other lines of evidence, which are often...

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Chapter Three: Warfare in Northern European Bronze Age Societies: Twentieth-Century Presentations and Recent Archaeological Research Inquiries

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pp. 37-62

What was the nature, scale and significance of warfare in European pre-state societies of the Bronze Age? In order to provide some possible answers to this broad question this article employs two main strategies. First, it will explore how and why warfare and warriors have been omitted, or incorporated, in archaeological discourses of the early metal ages...

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Chapter Four: Violence as an Aspect of the Durotriges Female Life Course

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pp. 63-97

This paper seeks to examine the skeletal evidence for violence in the Durotriges female life course. It provides an overview of the approaches used in the study, highlights why female perceptions and risk of violence differ from males, and aims to provide a more...

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Chapter Five: Facing the Sword: Confronting the Realities of Martial Violence and Other Mayhem, Present and Past

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pp. 98-116

The Buffalo gathering was especially welcome, as it offered an opportunity to address a major gap in contemporary archaeology: failure thus far to establish a mature, theoretically informed discourse on violence and related issues. (By violence I mean the use of physical force with intent to inflict injury on people, or damage on their property...

Section II: The Politics and Identities of Violence

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pp. 118-120

The four papers in Section II: The Politics and Identities of Violence, provide a useful cross-section of the topics, demonstrating the breath of coverage to which they are applicable, and in so doing how these two themes are intertwined and all-pervasive throughout human history. Chronologically, the contributions range from Roman (Carter...

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Chapter Six: Violent Discourses: Visual Cannibalism and the Portraits of Rome’s “Bad” Emperors

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pp. 121-142

Not surprisingly, images feature prominently in historical accounts of the violent upheavals marking the overthrow of an individual emperor or dynasty. Indeed, for the Romans visual and concrete manifestations of an individual’s identity were the primary...

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Chapter Seven: “An Offense to Honor Is Never Forgiven…”: Violence and Landscape Archaeology in Highland Northern Albania

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pp. 143-157

The Shala Valley Project (SVP) is an Albanian-American collaboration led by Michael Galaty of Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, and Albanian archaeologists Ols Lafe and Zamir Tafilica. The project was launched in 2004 and conducted fieldwork during the summers of 2005–2008 (see Galaty 2006, 2007; Galaty et al. 2006, 2009a, 2009b;...

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Chapter Eight: “Persuade the People”: Violence and Roman Spectacle Entertainment in the Greek World

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pp. 158-168

In the mid-second century A.D., the citizens of Smyrna gathered in the stadium during a holiday celebration. Entertaining spectacles had been arranged for them. Smyrna was located on the Aegean coast of Turkey where Izmir now stands and the citizens considered their city to be the “Jewel of Ionia.” There is no longer any record of what went on most of that day, but...

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Chapter Nine: Past War and European Identity: Making Conflict Archaeology Useful

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pp. 169-180

Warfare has played a significant role in the historical development of Europe: it has helped shape and disperse European political forms, such as the nation-state; it has decided the borders of polities that survive today; it has frequently provided the context within which scientific and technological advances were made; and it determined longlasting...

Section III: Sanctified Violence

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pp. 182-184

In the third section of this volume, Anne Porter, Mary Voigt, Eamonn Kelly, and John Pollini discuss the use of violence in the context of ritual and religion. The case studies used in these chapters stretch across time and place, moving from the Bronze Age of the third millennium Iraq (Ur) and Turkey (Arslantepe) to the third century B.C. also in...

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Chapter Ten: The State of Sacrifice: Divine Power and Political Aspiration in Third Millennium Mesopotamia and Beyond

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pp. 185-202

In focusing on the sociopolitical 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 ( Goslinga 2012). The sacred and the secular are of course by no means mutually exclusive,...

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Chapter Eleven: The Violent Ways of Galatian Gordion

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pp. 203-231

In the early third century BCE, a group of Celtic speakers who called themselves Galatai moved into Macedonia (Mitchell 1993:13–15, Map 2). Although documentary sources emphasize military activities carried out by the Galatai (hereafter Galatians), most...

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Chapter Twelve: An Archaeological Interpretation of Irish Iron Age Bog Bodies

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pp. 232-240

At the end of the last Ice Age, melt water from retreating ice sheets left the Central Plain of Ireland strewn with shallow lakes that, in time, developed into large expanses of raised bog. Following the removal of most of the country’s woodlands in the seventeenth century, peat from the bogs became an important source of fuel and over the next few centuries, peat...

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Chapter Thirteen: The Archaeology of Destruction: Christians, Images of Classical Antiquity, and Some Problems of Interpretation

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pp. 241-283

In both scholarship and popular culture, Christianity has generally been seen as 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...

Section IV: Epilogue

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pp. 271-282

I have wondered why I have been asked to give some remarks. Maybe it is because I am old, maybe because I just published a book on war, titled The Anthropology of War. These remarks, and the following four paragraphs, were “Opening Remarks” for the conference. What follows these paragraphs is a partial survey of European archaeology over the past...


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pp. 283-284


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pp. 285-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9781438444437
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438444413

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology Distinguished Monograph Series