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13 - The transformation of Italy, 300 – 133 B.C. The evidence of archaeology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

Jean-Paul Morel
Affiliation:
Professor at the Université de Provence (Aix en Provence), and Director of the Centre Camille Jullian
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Summary

The central issue in the development of Italy during the third and second centuries B.C. is without doubt that of its hellenization; nevertheless it would be a mistake to relate everything to this factor. In the first place, hellenization, particularly in Rome, had been in progress since the early years of the city and it continued after the period now under consideration. It assumed numerous aspects, the variants among which must be noted, but was not in itself enough to be entirely responsible for the character of the period. Secondly, the process of hellenization encountered obstacles, was halted by boundaries and provoked reactions. Lastly, certain of the phenomena which are to be analysed – and those not the least important – clearly lay outside the problematical area of hellenization. Prominent among such phenomena are those relating to the production of goods for domestic consumption and for trade. Indeed, an enquiry confined to art and architecture would be unacceptable in the light of the approach taken recently by archaeology: ‘antiquarianism’ and ‘material culture’ have also, thanks to the progress of research, acquired an importance which must be taken into account.

The subject is not without its difficulties. The period in question is one which has inspired the least concerted study, in contrast with archaic and ‘mid-Republican’ Rome on the one hand and Rome after the Gracchi on the other. Moreover, many of the works of art or groups of objects on which the present observations must be based are still very insecurely dated and highly conjectural in their attributions (though remarkable advances have been made in this direction).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1989

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