CFP: Exotica in the Prehistoric Mediterranean

Andrea Vianello and Dragos Gheorghiu are looking for contributions to their session “Exotica in the Prehistoric Mediterranean” at the EAA Annual Meeting in Zadar, 19-23 September 2007:

This session focuses on the archaeological evidence of trade in the prehistoric Mediterranean and is concerned primarily with the detection and interpretation of foreign products and materials. The first part of the session will concentrate on approaches and techniques to detect exotica, especially (but not exclusively) consumable materials. Current approaches are based on stylistic analyses of objects. We would like to present an array of different case studies on newer approaches. For instance, studies of special sites, associated with the production of particular substances (e.g. salt, sulphur, spices, etc.) may be able to identify characteristic tools that may help in identifying similar production processes at other sites, albeit at a smaller scale. Studies of exchange networks, especially those associated with the trade of a few commodities (e.g. “amber route”, Uluburun cargo) may be used to identify specific areas of production and consumption for each commodity and eventually predict what commodities at a site along such route might have been circulating. Scientific analyses can also be useful for much more than provenance studies. Archaeochemistry and residue analyses can provide a significant contribution in identifying substances that cannot be detected by traditional analyses. The aim is to bring together specialists from different disciplines and discuss the possible options to recognise as many exotica as possible from the archaeological record, possibly establishing a research portfolio of possible techniques.

The second part of this session will focus on interpretations of exotica. We welcome papers on any kind of foreign or rare material that will emphasise the recognition of any material or product as valuable. The aim is to establish a set of approaches to assess and verify the value of traded materials. Too often “exotic” equals “prestige” and “luxury” without any further thoughts, even if some exotica may be containers or accessory to other products and therefore not traded for their intrinsic value. The case studies in this section should establish the value of exotica in antiquity by constructing interpretive frameworks analysing aspects such as the fascination and fetishism towards rare materials and products; the higher quality of foreign material; rarity and the effort of procurement involved; unusual shapes, colours or textures that may set any exotica apart from similar products; the tactility of rare products; and others.

Abstracts should be c. 200 words and sent to the organisers by 10th April.

Dr. Andrea Vianello (Intute, University of Oxford):
Prof. Dragos Gheorghiu (University of Arts, Bucharest):

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