Despite a long tradition of studies in ancient Mediterranean economic history, a significant lack of studies can be noted in connection with pre-Roman Italy, by which I mean especially the central area of the Italian peninsula between the 8th BCE and the “Romanization”. The tight and profound relation of this area with wide sectors of the Mediterranean world (Phoenicians, Greeks, Iberian area…) and Rome is well known. In particular the Etruscans played a crucial political and commercial role in the Mediterranean setting at least in the Archaic period and the Italic world, with the later phenomenon of the mercatores, contributed to the globalized Mediterranean commercial network of the Hellenistic age. Rome itself, at least in its formative period and down to the beginning of the Republic, must be considered embedded in this network. In pre-Roman Italy sanctuaries and sacred areas are places in which alongside religious practices some fundamental political and economic functions are located, too. The ways in which such sanctuaries became places of storage and use of public goods are in part for us unknown. The process must be probably related to the emergence of the abstract concept of value that, not by chance, also in the Greek world has been connected to the development of the social urban form and to the emergence in particular of the regime of the votive offerings that, introducing the notion of quantitative value, sanctioned the distance with the qualitative expression of value, typical of the previous social organization. As far as the pre-Roman world is concerned we can perceive through the archaeological data the end of the process, in which the so-called religio votiva must be read (as it has been) on the one hand as a religious practice, but on the other hand it is undoubtedly a mean to improve the economic resources of the sanctuaries and consequently of the community itself through a passage of wealth from the private sphere to the public one. Unfortunately a large quantity of these offerings is irremediably lost because made of perishable materials or archaeologically represented by objects of apparently scarce value. But there is still a huge amount of data found in Etruscan and Italic sanctuaries that clearly speak of the function of deposit and management of great quantities of goods by local communities and whose informative potential has been definitely underestimated in scholarship. In particular I am referring to the well-known practice of offering metals in different forms (aes rude, coins, bronze statues and more in general metal objects, …). On these theoretical bases my paper aims to investigate the so-called religio votiva with an economic approach and to analyze the quantitative value of the votive offerings. To reach this goal, I will tackle especially a meaningful study case, a class of material widely investigated in previous researches but with a non-economic approach: the small votive bronzes. Representing both divinities and offerers, they have definitely played a major role in the votive practice both in Tyrrhenian and Adriatic regions between the 7th and the 1st c. BCE (i.e. both in a genuinely pre-Roman period and in a “Romanized” moment). These bronzes are often of poor quality and extremely repetitive, but they are definitely interesting as far as religious, cultural, artisanal and economic considerations are concerned. It is necessary to remember that these objects are made of metal and in particular of the same metal – bronze – that the majority of the most ancient coins in use in central Italy was made of. It is therefore evident that small votive bronzes did hold an intrinsic value and that the massive presence of them in a sanctuary represented a consistent deposit of metal. A direct consequence of these considerations is the fact that a detailed study of these artifacts, based on an accurate analysis that exploits both artisanal aspects and specific set of data concerning dimension and weight, could give us the possibility to shed light on a set of relevant economic aspects of pre-Roman and early “Romanized” Italy.
Gods of value. Preliminary remarks on religion and economy in pre-Roman Italy / Biella, MARIA CRISTINA. - In: RELIGION IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE. - ISSN 2199-4463. - STAMPA. - 5:1(2019), pp. 23-45. [10.1628/rre-2019-0004]
|Titolo:||Gods of value. Preliminary remarks on religion and economy in pre-Roman Italy|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2019|
|Citazione:||Gods of value. Preliminary remarks on religion and economy in pre-Roman Italy / Biella, MARIA CRISTINA. - In: RELIGION IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE. - ISSN 2199-4463. - STAMPA. - 5:1(2019), pp. 23-45. [10.1628/rre-2019-0004]|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|