The Colonial Process in Bronze and Iron Age Sardinia: Foodways and Daily Practices

Palazzo, Susan, Anthropology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Wattenmaker, Patricia, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
LaViolette, Adria, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Hantman, Jeffrey, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Smith, Tyler Jo, Department of Art, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines the foodways of indigenous Nuragic peoples living at the site of Bingia ‘e Monti in Late Bronze Age Sardinia (LBA, c. 1300-1150 BC). Beginning in the late-LBA, Phoenician traders intensify relations with Sardinians and settle permanently on the coast. Sardinia and the wider Mediterranean experienced varying degrees of ‘colonial’ presence (contact, trade, colonization with or without colonies, imperialism), during the LBA and Early Iron Age (EIA). The colonial nature of these situations has been greatly debated, and scholars have struggled to find a framework that allows for comparison within the region. Colonial groups are associated with various levels of domination over indigenous inhabitants. In Sardinia, Phoenicians are generally viewed as traders who did little to interrupt indigenous society while subsequent settlers, Carthaginians and Romans, had a reputation for absolute control that extended inland. I rely on faunal remains from Bingia ‘e Monti, a single household inland site, to demonstrate how a focus on foodways can lead to understanding the intricacies of cultural transitions in interior Bronze and Iron Age Sardinia, and why this approach is especially applicable in colonial situations.
I carry out my studies within the context of anthropological understandings of foodways and colonialism. Food and drink are more than substances necessary for survival; they are also rich in meaning and are consistently used to create and maintain social relationships and boundaries. Through the daily practice of producing, processing, and consuming meals, foodways are tightly bound to identity. Postcolonial approaches in archaeology mobilize daily practices such as foodways to better understand colonial situations and determine the nature of exchanges taking place. These approaches view colonial situations as processes of cultural entanglement that can be viewed through the consumption of objects and ideas. Using faunal remains to gauge local versus Phoenician influences in LBA/EIA Sardinia draws on and contributes to both foodways and postcolonial archaeology.
I consider data on foodways on three scales: at Bingia ‘e Monti and neighboring sites, at coastal sites in Sardinia, and at Phoenician sites elsewhere in the western Mediterranean. By comparison it is possible to determine broader patterns and conclude whether changes in LBA/EIA foodways are due to local developments such as the environment, technology, social reorganization, and economic reorganization, or developments caused by Phoenician influence. Sardinia is seen today as a product of millennia of colonialism the lasting effects of which still impact one’s experience of the island and social and political identity of the current population. An examination of past indigenous-colonial interactions may lead to changes in the island’s overall historical narrative.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
foodways, colonialism, Sardinia
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