The Samnites were an Iron Age population that shifted from warlike mountain dwellers to the largest sociopolitical unit of central Italy, able to dispute with Rome the domination over the peninsula. Archaeological and historical evidence suggests that this major shift in the scale of conflict may have involved a reorganization of the military system, which changed from an elite militia to a conscript or standing army from the Orientalizing-Archaic (800–500 BC) to Hellenistic times (400–27 BC). We propose a bioarchaeological framework jointly analyzing skeletal properties and funerary treatment in male Samnites to investigate on this shift in military organization. We anticipated that, when Samnites had an elite militia, the warring force was constituted by the wealthier segments of the society. Conversely, we expected the warring force of the standing/conscript army to be mainly drawn from the lower social strata. We considered high asymmetry in J, a measure of humeral torsional rigidity (calculated via crosssectional geometry, CSG) as a proxy for pre- and periadolescent-onset weapon training. The social standing of the individual was approximated via funerary treatment analysis (Status Index). Results show that in the Orientalizing-Archaic period, humeral asymmetry and Status Index are positively correlated, and the high-status subsample shows significantly higher asymmetry than the low-status subsample. Among Hellenistic Samnites, no correlation between Status Index and humeral asymmetry is present, and the low-status subsample is the most lateralized. Results support the use of CSG in a strong theoretical framework to investigate pas t changes in military organization and their correlates in terms of sociopolitical development, alterations of power relationships, and warfare.

A bioarchaeological approach to the reconstruction of changes in military organization among iron age Samnites (Vestini) from Abruzzo, Central Italy / V. S., Sparacello; V., D'Ercole; Coppa, Alfredo. - In: AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY. - ISSN 1096-8644. - 156(2015), pp. 305-316. [10.1002/ajpa.22650]

A bioarchaeological approach to the reconstruction of changes in military organization among iron age Samnites (Vestini) from Abruzzo, Central Italy

COPPA, Alfredo
2015

Abstract

The Samnites were an Iron Age population that shifted from warlike mountain dwellers to the largest sociopolitical unit of central Italy, able to dispute with Rome the domination over the peninsula. Archaeological and historical evidence suggests that this major shift in the scale of conflict may have involved a reorganization of the military system, which changed from an elite militia to a conscript or standing army from the Orientalizing-Archaic (800–500 BC) to Hellenistic times (400–27 BC). We propose a bioarchaeological framework jointly analyzing skeletal properties and funerary treatment in male Samnites to investigate on this shift in military organization. We anticipated that, when Samnites had an elite militia, the warring force was constituted by the wealthier segments of the society. Conversely, we expected the warring force of the standing/conscript army to be mainly drawn from the lower social strata. We considered high asymmetry in J, a measure of humeral torsional rigidity (calculated via crosssectional geometry, CSG) as a proxy for pre- and periadolescent-onset weapon training. The social standing of the individual was approximated via funerary treatment analysis (Status Index). Results show that in the Orientalizing-Archaic period, humeral asymmetry and Status Index are positively correlated, and the high-status subsample shows significantly higher asymmetry than the low-status subsample. Among Hellenistic Samnites, no correlation between Status Index and humeral asymmetry is present, and the low-status subsample is the most lateralized. Results support the use of CSG in a strong theoretical framework to investigate pas t changes in military organization and their correlates in terms of sociopolitical development, alterations of power relationships, and warfare.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/783625
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