Fake Food: Lead Feasting Utensils, Terracotta Food, and Community Formation in Pre-Roman Southern Italy

The project seeks to understand how material culture related to food was used for symbolic consumption in pre-Roman southern Italy. It analyses two categories of objects that appeared in funerary assemblages in the 4th century BCE: firstly, non-functional feasting utensils made of lead, such as spits, fire dogs, knives, and forks; and secondly, food-shaped terracotta objects, such as fruit, eggs, cheese, pastries, and other types of processed food. These objects come from a large number of sites in present-day Calabria and Basilicata, as well as the southern and central parts of Campania and central Apulia, and although both classes of objects are well known, they have received little attention, especially on a supra-regional level. The project aims to classify all known fake-food objects from graves, to contextualise them within the grave-good assemblages, and to analyse how these objects were associated with each other and with other types of artefacts, looking for local, micro-regional and supra-regional patterns. It also compares the funerary fake-food objects with items from cult sites, as well as with contemporary funerary paintings in some of the regions. Drawing on concepts of symbolic consumption, the project traces the role that fake-food objects played in ritual practices and argues that the micro-level emphasis on the home, hearth, and household through faux-food objects was informed by macro-level processes of community formation.

Univ.-Ass. Mag. Mag. Dr. Matthias Hoernes
T:++43 1 4277 40605
E: Matthias.Hoernes@univie.ac.at
Room A1.17