Weaving as Worship: Reconstructing Ritual at the Etruscan Site of Poggio Colla
Speaker: Dr. Gretchen Meyers, Franklin & Marshall College
April 16, 2015, 6pm
ASU Tempe Campus, Business Administration Building C Wing Room 116
Excavations on the acropolis of the Etruscan site of Poggio Colla have uncovered a monumental structure with at least three construction phases, spanning the seventh-second centuries B.C.E. Sacred architecture and votive deposits, including a hoard of women’s jewelry, secure the designation of this space as a sanctuary with a history of ritualized usage. The discovery in 2010 of a ceramic fragment with stamped image of a female figure giving birth, together with numerous tools for both weaving and spinning uncovered within the confines of the sanctuary, point to the veneration of a female deity as well as the potential involvement of female craft production in ritual.
This lecture examines how archaeological evidence can be used to reconstruct Etruscan ritual through an analysis of the architecture and finds from the sanctuary at Poggio Colla. In addition to more than ten votive contexts, production of sacred cloth or garments is indicated by the distribution of weaving tools on the site into distinctive areas for spinning and weaving. Two of the site’s votive deposits appear to contain gold adornment for cloth alongside other ritual implements. Analysis of this evidence, together with comparative material from Etruria, Latium and Southern Italy, suggests a particularly inclusive role for Etruscan women as producers of ceremonial cloth, and hence active participants in ritual.
Gretchen Meyers is with Franklin & Marshall College, and holds her degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D.) and Duke University. Her research interests are Roman and Etruscan Archaeology, the Tiber River and Roman topography, Roman space and urban theory. She is Director of Archaeological Materials for the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project (Poggio Colla) in Italy.
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