Lecture by Carolina López-Ruiz – The Phoenicians and the Making of the Mediterranean

Welcome, everybody. My name is Felipe Rojas. I am a professor
of archeology here at the Chalapowski
Institute and the Department of Egyptology in Assyriology. I’m very happy to
welcome all of you and to introduce to
you Professor Carolina Lopez-Ruiz, who teaches
at Ohio State University. And who is the author of many
articles and several books, including the recent Tartessos
and the Phoenicians in Iberia, about which you’ll
hear more in a minute. But Carolina is also the
author of two other books that many people in this
room know intimately well. Some of you read them– and
this is no exaggeration– daily. Or anybody– you
should read them daily. [LAUGHING] [INAUDIBLE] taking my class. I refer to her
erudite and meticulous When the Gods Were Born–
Greek Cosmogonies a and the Near East, and, more directly
to Gods, Heroes, and Monsters– a Sourcebook of Greek,
Roman, and New Eastern Myths in Translation. The first of those books,
When the Gods Were Born, was published in 2010. And it situated ancient
Greek mythology, which had long been studied in
ideal and somewhat soul-numbing isolation, within
the vibrant and often turbulent cross-cultural
dynamics of the ancient Eastern Mediterranean. By juxtaposing familiar
and mysterious texts such as Hesiod’s Theogony
or the Orphic Cosmogonies with their northwest
Semitic counterpart, she shed light on the
manner and the intensity of cultural interaction, and
also on the myths themselves. And then after the publication
of the fabulous anthology Gods, Heroes, and
Monsters, anyone who is interested
in ancient mythology can witness just how
twisted, and knotted, and snarling, and coiling,
and ultimately, entangled, the mythological traditions
of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East are. Professor Lopez-Ruiz
obtained her PhD from the University of Chicago. She did graduate work at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem. And her BA and MA at the
Universidad [INAUDIBLE] de Madrid. She is a bold and
innovative scholar who is attentive to
academic conversations well beyond those narrowly
associated with the classics. The work for this talk is
based in part on the project Phoenician Networks
in the Mediterranean from Greece to Iberia, which
was funded by an NEH grant under the Humanities in the
Public Square Initiative. Please join me in welcoming
Professor Lopez-Ruiz. [APPLAUSE] Thanks. Thank you so much for
that introduction. And thank you to the
Chlapowski Institute for making it possible
for me to come. And for the colleagues of the
departments of Assyriology and Egyptology and Classics,
and anybody who has supported this visit. And especially to Felipe Rojas. And to his students who,
for good or for bad, are victims of my work. And I really look forward to our
discussion tomorrow in class. I think it’s going to be
stimulating and interesting for everybody. There are very few places where
I will be so looking forward to visit as Brown, since
there are many colleagues here whom I haven’t met in person,
but whose works I admire. And others that I
have met, and so on. So this is really
a treat for me. And I hope I will have a
little bit for everyone. And background–
forgive me if I’m going to say things
that you already know. I hope I will have old things
and new things for everyone. So let me start by saying that
my ongoing research, looking forward to my next
monograph, keeps exploring the cultural exchange
behind the pan-Mediterranean trend known as the
Orientalizing phenomenon. Which you can hear
with quotation marks– most of the times
I say it, or not. I’ll talk about it in a bit. I inquire, first
of all, what we may gain from comparing the cases
of the different indigenous cultures involved. And what their articulations of
the Oriental tastes and idioms tell us of their responses
to Phoenicians and others. Second, I interrogate
the different ways in which local histories
are written with an eye to how they treat differently
the Semitic element– Phoenicians, Levantines,
and others– depending on national narratives
and scholarly agendas. Art historians have introduced
the category of Orientalizing into classical studies in order
to label Greek artifacts that exhibit a Near Eastern/Oriental
motifs and patterns, especially particular types of
vase decorations and sculpture. I think it was first
introduced for Etruscan art. As our knowledge of the
pre-Classical period grew, that term was more
broadly used for an all-encompassing phenomenon
in the late Geometric and earlier Archaic
periods, or the Iron Age– not only in
Greece, or in Etruria, but in other areas
of the Mediterranean. So more or less, the
8th, 7th centuries BCE is the period that I’m
going to be talking about. The geography by
now is pretty vast and reflects a growing
interest in this aspect of Mediterranean cultures. This Orientalizing
trend is most easily identifiable in the
visual arts, obviously. Ubiquitous sphinxes,
lotus flowers, griffins that
decorate Greek objects were represented very well. But Orientalizing
aesthetics were the product of a contact between
cultures that led to a broader technological
and literary revolution. And that is what the other part
of my work is dedicated to. That is, contacts
across literatures, mythological
traditions, and so on. For the cultures where
we have literatures, we can trace that aspect of
the Near Eastern and Western contact. The term has been declared
infelicitous, however, from various fronts. It does not help
that it has been used in a rather inconsistent
way and confusing way. For instance, we may
see Orientalizing used to label a historical
period, even in Greece. Of course, this is a
scholarly convention, as all historical
periodizations are conventions. But it can be used
in addition to, or overlapping with
other, more common names for the same period. Like Iron Age, Geometric
Period, which is a form of art. Also Archaic,
protohistoric, and so on. Furthermore, the
Orientalizing label is not necessarily attached
to a single culture, but is rather a phase of
experimentation and change within several
Mediterranean peoples. I turn to one of them
first, which is Tartessos. And I will try to illustrate
the kinds of entanglements that surrounds these
Orientalizing cultures, and the role of the Phoenicians
in this theater of interaction. Then I will discuss
a bit more my ideas about the concept
of Orientalizing. So Tartessos flourished between
the 8th and 6th centuries BCE in the [INAUDIBLE]
Valley, which is the green area
around that river in southwestern
and southern Spain. And it flourished between the
8th and the 6th centuries. A region that transitioned
from the Late Bronze Age– as many other areas
in Europe, they transitioned from their Late
Bronze Age into the Iron Age much later than this
happened in the Levant. And this happened
just as they joined the eastern Mediterranean
networks with the incoming of the Phoenician colonists. Regarding Tartessos, the
pendulum of Spanish scholarship has flipped to areas between
various essentialist positions, from defining it in
purely indigenous terms, to identifying it squarely
with the Phoenician colonial populations. These positions have
generally followed the shift in self-representation
among Spaniards of different generations. So for instance, the
indigenous elements that have Atlantic, or Celtic,
or North African inflections, are more desirable within
discourses of regional history and nationalisms. While the international,
cosmopolitan aspects associated with the
Phoenicians are more in tune with a pan-Mediterranean,
European image of the peninsula. The Phoenician element, in turn,
can be used in different ways. It can be inflected
as foreign, colonial. Or it can be
inflicted as our own, much as the Islamic or
Jewish past in Spain, that can be also used in both ways. And to this, we can
add a classicizing, or in the European emphasis,
that some scholars adhere to or cling to, and
that has deep roots in their early
archeology of Tartessos as well– for those
who are more anchored in the classical tradition. A middle ground position
predominates now, I would say– or we’re getting there. One that reads the
Orientalizing materials along the lines of
post-colonial discourse, and Tartessos as the
result of the interaction and inter-dependence of both
indigenous and colonial strata, or groups. The difficulties of
finding consensus among the scholarly
community, also among archaeologists,
historians, theologists, [INAUDIBLE], and
so on is clear when you attend a congress, a
conference about Tartessos. There is really very little
consensus, in many ways. In the last congress in
2011, in [? Huelva ?], the main organizers came up
with a manifesto for Tartessos. That’s how it was called. I think it’s funny. And the essential part of it
says, “Tartessos is the–” and, sorry- but they
made us sign it! I mean, we had to sign
it– [LAUGHING] I mean, they circulated the
manifesto, and we actually signed the manifesto. And it was included in the
volume of the conference. Which tells you
kind of the anxiety that surrounds the topic. And the willingness
to really reach some kind of consensus of
how to define this thing called Tartessos, right? From different angles. Because it seems hard– and
still, with the manifesto, I’m not sure there is one. But it reads, “Tartessos
is the culture of the southwestern
Iberian Peninsula coinciding with a stable
Phoenician presence. This confluence results in
the brilliance and wealth evoked in the Greek sources
by the name of Tartessos and perhaps under the
name [? Tarshis ?], in the Hebrew Bible,
which is not certain.” Just in case. [LAUGHING] Oops. “The archaeological evidence
points–” I can read. I can see. I don’t mind. “The archaeological
evidence points to a great demographic
diversity resulting from said confluence,
ranging from centers of direct Phoenician
foundation–” that is, colonies– “joined
by a [INAUDIBLE] contingence to pre-existing centers, which
then incorporate Phoenicians. The result, in
most cases, is that of juxtaposed or
hybrid communities, in which diverse languages
are also attested.” It’s pretty progressive
for where we were at. So what is this
brilliance and wealth evoked in the Greek sources? I’m going to talk a little
bit about the Greek sources for the classicists. Up until the 1960s– yeah, the
1960s or so– our knowledge of Tartessic culture was
based almost exclusively on literary allusions. Were it not for the
presence of Tartessos in the classical
sources, archaeologists would not have looked for
it in the first place. Some of the pioneering
archaeologists worked on it actually at the
beginning of the century, and started looking in
the archaeological record for this entity that appeared
in classical sources. These are Adolf Schulten
and Edward Bonsoir. These are our
[INAUDIBLE], right? They were doing this
at the same time as the discovery of Phoenician
Greece was happening. I want to give you–
this is Bonsoir. A few insights on the place
of Tartessos in the sources. Just zooming in only
on those that contain more direct information. Tartessos is first
mentioned as a river. So the river that is
now the [INAUDIBLE], and later, the [INAUDIBLE]
of the Romans, apparently. Almost certainly, that was
the river called Tartessos. So it’s mentioned as a river
by the poet [? Stassikolas ?] of [? Himera ?] in the
7th or early 6th century. It’s situated in the far
west [? Heracles ?] victory over the monster Gideon. A century or so later,
the Ionian poet Anacreon is attributed a
verse that reads– and this is in your handout,
in number t three if you want. But anyway, if you want the
reference, they are there. “I myself would not want
the horn of [? Amathea ?], nor for 150 years to
be King of Tartessos.” It’s a fragment recorded
by [? Strebo ?]. But Tartessos
appears early on in the Ionian
geographical tradition, mentioned by
Hecataeus of Miletus around the turn of
the 5th century. The preserved
quotations of Hecataeus, which are fragmentary,
provide a number of allusions to areas around
the Strait of Gibraltar, or the columns of Heracles. Among these, two
or three regions stand out– three– Mastenoid,
Tartessos, and Iberia. So it sounds like Tartessos is a
separate territory than Iberia, which would be the east,
Tartessos in the southwest. And these regions contain
a number of cities. So it’s clearly–
seemingly, it’s a region. But Herodotus is, of course, the
crucial source for Tartessos. We owe to him the
only two appearances of Tartessos within a historical
narrative prior to Roman times. During his account of
the Persian subjugation of the Greeks of Asia
Minor, the historian tells us about this
following story about the Phocaeans in Ionia. This is also in your
handout, number one, but I’m going to read it. Phocaea was the
first Ionian town that he– the Persian
general– attacked. These Phocaeans were the
earliest of the Greeks to make long sea voyages. And it was they who
discovered the Adriatic Sea, [? Tyrannia, ?]
Iberia, and Tartessos. Not only sailing in
[? round ?] freight ships, but in 50-oared vessels. When they came to
Tartessos they made friends with the King of
the Tartessians, whose name was Argontonios. He ruled Tartessos for
80 years and lived 120. Hence that fame that is
reflected by an Anacreon. The Phocaeans won this man’s
friendship to such a degree that he invited them to live in
Ionia, settle in his territory, wherever they liked. And then it goes on to say
that since they didn’t stay, he gave them money to
build walls in their city. Arcade walls– maybe
the arcade walls that are actually there,
still– part of them– to defend themselves
from the Persians. Right after this,
he tells us how the Persians besieged the
city, and the Phocaeans fled. And their empty city was taken. Failing to acquire territory
in the immediate islands of the coast,
Herodotus tells us, the Phocaeans prepared to sail
to Kirnos– that is, Corsica. Where, at the command of
an oracle, they had built a city called Alalia,
20 years before. Argontonios, by this
time, had already died. So he gives us a pretty
nice chronology there. Other mentions of
Phocaea by Herodotus is in book 4, where he narrates
the foundation of Cyrene. Yeah. By the people from Thera, right? When they found Cyrene in Libya. In a digression
from this story, he tells about this
Samian merchant called Colaeus, who helped
the Therans stranded in Libya with supplies. Colaeus told them a story that
most likely reached Herodotus via Samian oral tradition. How the merchant
accidentally passed through the pillars
of Heracles and came, providentially, to Tartessos. Now, he said, this was, at the
time, an un-exploited market, [? Akeratos ?]
and [? Pollion ?]. Hence, the Samians,
of all the Greeks whom we know, with certainty,
obtained the greatest profit from their cargo. What follows represents
vividly the presence of Orientalizing
artifacts in sanctuaries. The sailors dedicated a tenth
of their profit at the Samian [? Heraeon ?] in the form of a
monumental bronze vessel with projecting griffin heads,
supported by three colossal kneeling figures of bronze that
we cannot figure out how that would have worked. Indeed, places like the
Samian [? Heraeon ?], just like Olympia or
other sanctuaries, functioned as [INAUDIBLE]
points for trade and transnational relations. These references in
Hecataeus and Herodotus are the closest we get to
the historical Tartessos of the 7th and 6th centuries. That is, to the
archaeological horizon of this sort of
Orientalizing culture that the archaeologists have
identified as Tartessos. More specifically, Herodotus–
going back to the walls– the Phocaean encounter
that he tells us about must belong in the
mid-6th century, according to calculations,
more or less. Before the decrease in
population and wealth that archaeologists notice
after the 6th century in the Tartessic territory. They talk about a 6th-century
crisis in Tartessos that nobody knows, you
know, what was it caused by. This scenario includes a
decline in direct Greek presence in the southwest, related
possibly to the increasing rivalry between
Carthagenians and Greeks, especially Phocaeans, who
have settled in Massalia and Northeastern Liberia. They were competing to dominate
the western Mediterranean and the Atlantic markets. The obscure battle of Alalia
that Herodotus mentions later may be symptomatic
of this clash of interests. But it’s not clear that
this is the direct cause of the decline of Tartessos. Now, in the 5th century
and 4th century, Iberia and the Iberians take a
place in the literary allusions of classical sources, joining
Tartessos, [? Garera ?], [? Gared, ?] [? Difea ?],
and other places in mythical connections with
Geryon, the Hesperides, which are kind of movable. The pillars of Heracles–
those are not movable. And the landscape
of the Western world by the end of the ocean– even
an entrance to the underworld is situated there, and all that. This mythical landscape had been
evoked since Homer and Hesiod and frequently,
even in [INAUDIBLE], among other archaic poets, but
it acquired more real contours. So the Iberian lands,
which are the eastern part of the peninsula, were
connected with Greek colonies– Catalonia, southern France. They became the point of
reference for the Greeks. While Tartessos
in the southwest, becomes less immediate
of a reference, and gets kind of lost. Possibly, again, because access
to the area beyond the Strait may now have been under
the control of Carthage– so kind of cut off
from the Greek world. We have a noticeable
gap in references to Tartessos in the 3rd
century– 4th and 3rd– until the Romans
enter Iberia in chase of their Carthaginian rivals
during the second Punic War– that is, at the
end of the 3rd century. What do we find then? This is interesting
in terms of trying to figure out if there was an
identity in this area attached to Tartessos. To make a long story short,
in the area where Tartessos flourished, we have now what
the Romans called Turdetania. After a few centuries of
scarce direct documentation, Polybius’ account of the Punic
Wars marks a turning point. This is the time when
the Romans take control not only of the territory,
but of the intelligence about the region,
becoming mediators even in the selective
transmission of previous Greek and
Carthaginian sources about the west. Some scholars want to
see in these Turdetani a new culture emerging after
the crisis of Tartessos, and disconnected from it. Not as a continuation of
whatever Tartessos was. I agree more with those who see
this as two almost coterminous names– one used by
Greeks– “Tartessos”– the other used by
Romans– “Turdetani”– for the same area, and
possibly for the same people. So Polybius, Diadoros
Siculus, Livy, and Strabo all mention one or the
other, depending on which ethnographic
tradition they are following. And that’s something I
explore in my Tartessos book. That seems pretty clear. They never occur in a
juxtaposed position. But the choice of
different names and ambivalence about
their ethnic content is not just the result
of the reception of Greek ethnography in Rome. There are other factors. For instance, the
ancient Greek name was cherished by the
Roman inhabitants of Cadiz and the Turdetania area
themselves in Roman times. So it doesn’t
disappear completely. But they kind of
reinvent it, or re-use it as a prestigious
ancestral ethno-name. So the name had an aura
imprinted in it by a past that they are aware of, and
by Greek sources, as well. Anyway. That’s a long story. But in geographical
writing, in any way, Tartessos continues to be a
productive concept, as I said. Right. And this includes the
Carthaginian and [INAUDIBLE] Pediplo, as well, for those
interested in Carthaginian things. A crucial author, of
course– the last one I’m going to explore–
will be Strabo, writing around the
time of Augustus in the 1st century
CE– a bit later. Strabo refers abundantly
to the Tartessians as a people whose
illustrious past serves as a backdrop for
the contemporary, Romanized, Turdetani. Which seems to refer to
the area around Cardiz, OK? But by extension,
Tartessos seems to be also applied to the
broader region of Betica. So Strabo, like others,
draws distinctions between this Tartessos and
the old Phoenician colonies– that’s what’s interesting. Especially Cadiz and Gades. So somebody from Cadiz
could say, playfully, like, [? “columela,”– ?] say that he
cultivates Tartessian lettuces. [INAUDIBLE] You know– just weird
things like that. But we know he’s from Cadiz. And in Roman times,
Cadiz is what? It’s a Roman city. But if there is a
concept of the past, it’s more linked to
the Phoenicians, no? So there’s a really complex
combination of things. So Strabo is also
the one who tells us the story of the
foundation of Cadiz. This is in your
handout, number four. The [? Cadizans ?] report that
a certain oracle commanded the Tyreians– right, the
Phoenicians from Tyre– to found a colony by
the pillars of Heracles. In the third voyage,
after two failed attempts, they reached Cadiz
and found the temple– that is, the temple of
Melqart– in the eastern part of the island and
a city in the west. There are very few sites that
so much resemble their mother colony as Cadiz resembles
the island of Tyre. And they mirror each
other, also having a temple of Melqart, both of
which were famous in antiquity. So whatever the accuracy and
historicity of this account, it illustrates how
local traditions in early imperial times preserve
the memory of a Phoenician origin distinct from,
even if subsumed into, the Tartessian
provincial ethno-name. And with– adding some
indigenous color to whatever Roman identity was
the prevailing one. Strabo also gives
a voice to what must be the general tradition
underlying many of our Roman sources– the Turdetani
occupy the country where the ancient Tartessians were–
he says it just like that. And he also makes a
hyperbolic assertion, I guess, that they
had chronicles and poems of ancient
tradition and versified laws 6,000 years old. Which, again,
drives home the idea of an old, sophisticated,
local civilization that was not equivalent
to the Phoenician one. And then the Romans identified
with what the Greeks identified as Tartessos. Do you follow that? More or less? And the last thing
about the sources is that Strabo then keeps
complicating the picture by making further observations
about these different layers of identities. For instance, he says, “the
greater number of cities from Turdetania”– that would
be all this area, again– “are now inhabited
by Phoenicians, since they had become utterly
subject to them since remote times.” Or he says that “the Phoenicians
occupied the best of Iberia and Libya before
the time of Homer, and continued to be the
masters of those regions until Roman times– until the
Romans broke up their empire.” In other words, he
draws a distinction between the older
Phoenician colonization, and the Carthaginian domination. As well as other waves of North
African Punic peoples, right? So different layers of
Phoenicians, in a sense. So that was to have some
background about the sources. But there are tons and
tons of sources, really. So at some point,
there was a movement to archaeologize– to focus on
the archeology of Tartessos. And this turning point
was in the 1950s, when we have the very famous
finding of a treasure called the Treasure of El Carambolo. This gold stash
was found by chance under a pigeon shooting club–
yes, we have those in Spain, too– in 1958. And it immediately sparked
interest in Tartessos. That again, remember
before that, very little archeology
had been done on it. It even sparked a
feeling of national pride that has only grown,
especially in Andalusia, right? In southern Spain. You have Tartessos everywhere–
hotels, mining companies. Let us not forget that in
the following decades– after the 60s, but especially in
the 70s– archaeologists served the interests of regional
autonomies seeking self-definition after
the Franco regime. More systematic
excavations in the region followed, revealing
a rich indigenous culture in the Guadalquivir
Valley and its surrounding hinterland. The core of it was
kind of this triangle that you see up close here–
kind of a triangle demarcated by Huelva, Seville, and Cadiz. Huelva, here,
Seville, and Cadiz. But it seems that
the culture that seems to be fairly homogeneous
in terms of material culture had an influence that
extended inland, so much as to Extremadura
and southern Portugal. Tartessic material
culture, anyways, is best known for a series
of emblematic treasures and hordes, right? Such as El Carambolo,
or the one of La Aliseda in E Extremaduras,
or other isolated objects. Perhaps things like this
winged lion that some think is Tartessic, it’s
[INAUDIBLE], provenance. Others think it’s Etruscan. But archaeologists
have worked very hard to identify and reveal
a more complex network of sanctuaries,
cemeteries, and some traces of urban settlements with
their own areas of cultivation and farms, though there is no
single settlement that is fully uncovered. At the site where El
Carambolo treasure was found– the first one I showed–
several phases of a sanctuary have been excavated. This is one of the few
really exciting sites. The earliest remains
were first interpreted as along indigenous lines,
as the purest example of Late Bronze Age culture. But later revisions
of the materials and further excavation
showed that the site is, in all its phases
purely of Oriental cut. For the main excavators,
actually, they would say that it’s a
Phoenician sanctuary. But most people would
say it’s Tartessic. But again, what
does Tartessic mean? The constructions date
from the mid-8th century to the 7th century, and
show Levantine traits, such as quadrangular
architectural layout and other traits. Which are– let’s say that
the quadrangular layout is different from the typical round
hat type of construction that was pretty much
the only one known for the indigenous cultures. That discontinued, say,
in Celtic culture, right? So other Levantine
features of the building were, for instance, whitewashed
walls, paved courtyards. One of the courtyards is
paved with pink sea shells as part of the area leading to
the entrance of the building. And altars–
especially this altar in the form of an oxide
shape, let’s say– or at least that’s
how it’s called. This one. In turn, the two
bronze statuettes associated with the site,
one of them with a Phoenician inscription, suggest this was a
sanctuary dedicated to Astarte. The inscription is a
dedication to Astarte. And therefore, perhaps,
Astarte [? Amba ?] Al, since the place seems
to have two rooms, two addita, or sacred
spaces, with two altars. So that’s the hypothesis. Sorry– I was looking
at this other slide. Here, you see a
digital reconstruction of what it may have looked like. Pretty interesting. Now, this and other
finds have brought to light the strong
presence of Phoenicians not just along the coastal
colonies and trading posts, but in the interior of
the Guadalquivir Valley. So here is Seville. Here is El Carambolo– the
site I just mentioned, right? The river, of course,
the Guadalquivir River, is still navigable
up to Seville. But the most interesting feature
is that in ancient times, we’re pretty sure that there was
an entire gulf that was later closed by sedimentation
after some seismic activity. And [INAUDIBLE] sedimentation. So today, these are marshes
under the Parque– the [? Donana ?]. It’s a national park. And this area seems
very interior. But the idea is that
in ancient times, this would have been actually
kind of a coastal area. Now, more about these sites,
whether they can be Phoenician, or Tartessic, or indigenous. Metal resources were, of
course, a principal attraction for Phoenicians and
others to gravitate towards the Western shores. The most famous area is Rio
Tinto– the Rio Tinto mines, which are around Huelva. So down here is
Cadiz– here is Huelva. The Atlantic area
of Huelva and Cadiz had access to local
mines, but also served as hinges for
Atlantic trade already before formal
colonization started. And we know that–
we know for sure. But for instance, to
show you something famous is the horde of Atlantic-style
weapons of bronze found under the Harbor of Huelva. Now, besides the metal, which
is the classical explanation of why the Phoenicians
got so far out, there has been an addition
to this interpretation in the last decade
since the 80s, actually– for quite a long
time– challenging the inertia to restrict Phoenician activity
and impact to the coast. And to separate native and
Phoenician along those axes. This is the idea that
there was a colonization of the field– agricultural
colonization in the hinterland. It was put forth
by some historians. And a lot of people
didn’t like it. And slowly, slowly, it has been
sinking in that this is also, why not– a possibility. Another key site is that of
Carmona, a city near Seville. A high-up fortress city
near a smaller river, and dominating a fertile valley. Carmona is best known for
its impressive necropolis from Roman times. But it has provided key
findings under the city of Tartessic art, like
this famous [INAUDIBLE]. These were accompanied by
Phoenician red slipware and ivory spoons, paralleled
only in the Carthaginian realm. Now, the depiction of
griffins and lotus flowers are classic Orientalizing
motifs, yet distinct in style. There is nothing
really like this. It clearly has this
Oriental taste to it, right? But there isn’t an exact
parallel to this [INAUDIBLE] anywhere. Some see these objects not
as prestigious commodities imported by a local elite
only for display reasons, but rather as a subtle
adaptation of Near Eastern motifs within local
styles and for local uses that go beyond just gift
exchange, or something like that. For instance, symbols were
select and manipulated. And only in some cases, we
may infer what they mean. In the case of lotus flowers
or other symbols associated in the Levant with
Astarte, we might infer that they have to do
with what this goddess conveys. And in the funerary
context, that might have to do with life,
and the renewal of life after death, and
things like that. But it’s all speculative. In any case, Carmona
represents, in a sense, the proof of a hybrid
Phoenician/indigenous community that we may call Tartessic. Another impressive– this
very impressive site– is Cancho Roano. This place falls really away
from the Phoenician colonial [INAUDIBLE] proper. And yet, you would say,
is purely Orientalizing, in a sense. So this is, here,
like in the interior– really, really interior. OK? Apparently an isolated– sorry,
I am not showing you the map. Here is Cancho Roano. So in today’s Extremaduras, like
southern Extremaduras, right? Really far from
the Guadalquivir, and near the Guadiana Valley. So for a long time, this seemed
like an isolated building lying at the heart of Extremaduras. Built and rebuilt between the
6th and the 4th centuries BC, and then closed
ritually and covered by a mound in a very
interesting way. But recent excavations
and surveys of the region are unveiling a much more
populated and sophisticated network of communal buildings,
all buried under tumuli. It’s a very
interesting phenomenon that somebody just wrote
a dissertation about. So hopefully there will
be a good book about it along the road– about
this network of tumuli from this period. So it’s not isolated. And actually, I hear that
under one of these tumuli, there is at least
one building that is as impressive as
Cancho Roano that they are excavating nowadays. So there is more of this. The building is a striking
Levantine or Mediterranean outlook– layout. But its Greek, Punic,
and indigenous materials suggest a rather
eclectic site that served as a religious
and economic center– we have to infer– and
crossroads for the region. Since the site emerges when the
heart of Tartessos in the south declines by the end
of the 6th century, Canco Roano possibly
illustrates a kind of expansion or secondary
internal colonization by Tartessians from the south
into a less inhabited area, where they recreated their
own Orientalizing culture. So kind of a secondary
Orientalizing culture. Another fine example
of the material culture that we identify with Tartessos
are these puzzling warrior stelae– so-called
warrior stelae, of which there are more than 100. There’s a big number of them. They are distributed all
along southwest Spain and Extremaduras with some
random cases like that one. [LAUGHING] How did
that one get there? These monuments help us trace a
Tartessic web and point again, to the meeting of Atlantic
and Mediterranean traditions. Again, distributed
among [INAUDIBLE], [INAUDIBLE] Extremeduras,
and Portugal. Although their function and
meaning of their iconography remains highly debated, they
showcase a gradual addition and integration of
Near Eastern elements onto earlier
[INAUDIBLE] elements that we would say,
of Atlantic type. So you have Atlantic-style
shields, helmets, and swords. And then you have
stelae that start showing chariots, mirrors,
combs, and horned figures. The stelae by themselves would
be a topic of a whole talk. So luxury objects, let’s say. Presumably ivory mirrors–
I mean, ivory combs, or silver mirrors, presumably. If the stelae are interpreted
as markers of Tartessic culture, as many argue,
their distribution would show that this
Orientalizing aesthetic reached the hinterland of
Extremaduras and Portugal from the Guadalquivir. Again, cutting across
regional and, later, national boundaries. That is Photoshop. They were all found
out of context. There is not a
single one that is found in its original or
near original archaeological context. All re-used or just
dumped in the middle of the fields, which is a pity. So let’s go back to Tartessos
and the Orientalizing Mediterranean. The hybrid culture
we call Tartessos, then, should become
especially relevant now, as there is a renewed
interest in regional studies and Mediterranean networks. This is an example
of Tartessic ivory. A number of works in the
last 15 years, some of which you can see in the
bibliography I gave you, have created a certain momentum
for these cross-Mediterranean studies, right? The Corrupting Sea, the
making of the [INAUDIBLE], and so on and so forth. This perspective emphasizes
the interconnectedness within and across regions. So along a horizontal axis,
but also emphasizes vertical, let’s say, continuities
running through each area since pre-history. This double
contextualization is helpful when looking into this hectic,
multi-directional exchange of the 8th and
7th centuries BCE, as it maintains our focus away
from simple [? diffusionism ?]. Now, as we have seen, the
concept of Orientalizing has been attached to Tartessos
since its identification on the ground. It’s almost impossible not
to use it for Tartessos. But like most
academic conventions, the term, again, is not
without its problems. So let me talk a
bit more about that. The main one problem is
its vagueness, obviously. Orientalizing assumes an
Orient as an entity, something that sounds very
old-fashioned, and hence falls into all the traps
of Orientalism– hence obscuring as
much as it reveals. The term is still convenient
enough, and broadly used and accepted. Since that is the case, I’ve
been thinking a lot about it. And I think that in some
ways, I find it appropriate. In what ways? I think that its fault
maybe its virtue– that our vagueness when we
call something Orientalizing may well reflect an equally
generalizing and opaque conception of what was
Oriental in antiquity. That is, the intention and the
function of these imitations and appropriations
went hand-in-hand with the prestige emanating
from the older urban literate civilizations of the Near East. The trend was triggered by
the desire of local elites to articulate their
own aspirations within their communities and
vis-a-vis their neighbors. These aspects have
been emphasized by your own Peter,
[INAUDIBLE] nominating regarding the Sardinian
indigenous cultures. Or other studies about the
Orientalizing materials. I like a lot [INAUDIBLE]
book is in the bibliography. Or Marian Feldman’s work
on communities of style. Now, all of those works don’t
talk about the West, right? They talk about Greece, or
they talk about the Levant. So in other words, the
Orientalizing movement did not neutralize,
or should not neutralize, the
cultural identities of those who eagerly joined
this supranational [INAUDIBLE]. The transformations triggered
by the encounter with the Levant run deeper than the
artistic varnish, as we see in the case
of Tartessos as well. So it’s time we kind of bring
it into the conversation about what this
Orientalizing art is. We’re dealing with
an internal process that is unique to
each group, of course. And the lack of
historical sources for the pre-history of
most of the groups involved is a serious challenge. [INAUDIBLE],
Tartessians, Sardinians, Etruscans– we can only vaguely
delineate the trajectory before they enter the more
visible archaeological record in this period. Moreover, Tartessic
writing, which is the earliest in the
West– the earliest West of the Etruscans–
remains undeciphered, despite much work. As some of you know. It is virtually impossible to
gauge how the Orientalizing wave accented or
changed the course of these local identities. In short, we should consider
the Orientalizing phenomenon as an arena open
to interpretation, to be understood in both
intercultural and local terms. We owe the indigenous cultures
the benefit of the doubt when judging their complexity
and possible cultural cohesiveness, at least
when such identity is suggested by
external testimonia and archaeological data. Fortunately, archaeologists
studying in the Western Mediterranean are
increasingly comparing notes, and are compensating for the
scarcity of sources with more nuanced interpretive efforts. I would say more earnestly
so than classicists have done for the
contemporary Greek phenomenon. Classicists have the
luxury of written sources, and have the luxury of
knowing who the Greeks were, sort of, right? So they don’t have to make such
an effort to try to figure out all of these things. In the case of
Etrurea, for instance, where traditional
archeology has centered on the use of
Orientalizing aesthetics in princely and elite
context, recent voices like Corina [INAUDIBLE]
are insisting on the need to pay more attention to
social and ideological changes internal to the culture. In Sardinia, the scholarship of
Peter [INAUDIBLE], especially highlights internal
appropriation of Oriental culture
in zones of contact with the Phoenician colonies
over a long [INAUDIBLE]. This process spans from the
8th century to practically classical Sardinia, correct? When the island is
under Punic influence. As we have argued for Tartessos,
the Orientalizing elements by themselves do not
necessarily explain the changes in the indigenous culture. Its roots must be
sought much earlier. This is, well, later. This is, really, Iberian art. But it’s interesting. And it has a certain–
here, you can see some Aegean kind of influences. Now, this manipulation
of the Oriental, then, goes both ways, right? So another focus on
my current project is to help us understand the
active role of definitions at the other end of the rope. These ubiquitous
Levantines that we know as Phoenicians
thrived precisely because they knew how to provide
what their market coveted. They are as deliberate
in the processes as the indigenous consumers
of the Orientalizing culture. See, they selectively
exploited perceptions of what was international,
prestigious, sophisticated. I think they did. I think there is a deliberate
marketing– a very successful one– of these things. At that time, of the
first millennium, this idea overlapped
considerably with what we
classify as Oriental. Modern efforts to
locate the origins of the different Oriental models
distract us from two things. One, the Phoenician
culture had itself appropriated Assyria and
Egyptian traits for centuries, which formed part of what
was perceived and projected as Phoenician– or Tyreian,
Sidonian, or whatever, if we don’t want
to use Phoenician. After all, their culture–
while all cultures are eclectic, theirs is one of the
most eclectic ones. But “eclectic” is kind
of an unfair word. I feel like that
doesn’t do justice of what they would
perceive as that’s part of their own culture. The second thing is, the
recipient cultures– let’s say, the Tartessians,
did not necessarily distinguish among
diverse or regional roots of the new artifacts. And soon created local
versions of them anyway. So we need to see
this phenomenon both from those lenses– the
local and the Phoenician. And that there is a marketing
of these that really must be mediated by these Levantines. As I said before, I
also want to question the different assumptions about
what this phenomenon means in each region. Besides the difference in
types of records preserved in each case,
interpretive differences correspond in part to
historiographical traditions and trends within its
discipline and in its country. Inevitably, we work with
teleological narratives and make projections
onto earlier periods. How can we look at the
Late Geometric– wait, I think I– no, I’m
still in this slide. Let’s go back to–
well, it’s OK. These are examples of Greek
Orientalizing– the Sphinx and [INAUDIBLE] cave plate. And an Assyrian
model, let’s say. So how can we look at the
Late Geometric or archaic Orientalizing Greece
without an idea of Greekness derived from classical Greece? How can we forget the
fact that Greek is still considered the cradle
of Western civilization? It is not surprising that
the Greco-Oriental encounter is downplayed as rather
superficial and ultimately inconsequential for the
formation of Greek culture and identity, unless we’re
talking about the Persians. Put differently, complicating
Greek culture and identity means not only
shaking boundaries between East and West, but
questioning the independence and absolute originality
of the most valued culture of the ancient world. Re-thinking what
is really a sort of foundation myth of the West. Obviously, much less
is at stake when it comes to Iberia and Tartessos. As we have seen, it
wasn’t even that salient in Spanish historiography
or identity until the 20th
century, beginning with romantic archeology. Between the feats of Iberians,
Celt-Iberians, Carthaginians, and Romans, little room was
left for obscure Tartessos. Still, a colleague,
Fernando Wolfe has put it– I quote–
“Tartessos served as a referent of antiquity. A sort of remote glory, like
a removed and ancient relative that provides nobility,
but not genealogy in the most important
sense– that is, related to continuity
and inheritance.” But now, how does
this compare– how does Tartessos compare to
other Orientalizing cultures? I’m coming to the last part. Here’s where
teleological readings of the visible evidence
might be tricking us again. As for other equally
vanished cultures, we might ask this– what
if Tartessos had survived– survived as a sort of
cohesive civilization past the 6th century,
as Greece did? If we had even scraps of
its literary traditions and [INAUDIBLE]
narratives, would we be less prompt to emphasize
so much their debt to Phoenician colonies, and
to collapse Tartessic remains with Phoenician ones? Play with the reverse
scenario– let’s imagine that the Greek
communities of the Dark Ages were not the ancestors
of classical Greece, but somewhere else. Imagine that we didn’t have
the literature from them, but only the archeological
record of the Early Iron age and Orientalizing period. Would we not study them as
one more indigenous culture? After all, Greeks,
Tartessians, [? Tyreaneans, ?] Sardinians– they all
flourished at that time in the 8th, 7th centuries,
and were profoundly transformed by an unprecedented
intensification of contact with the Eastern networks. So compare, for instance,
the case of Etrurea– how we see through Roman
lenses as the precursor of their culture,
of Roman culture. This relationship
guarantees for the Etruscans a place in the latter that
leads to Western civilization. While Tartessos lacks
this historical advantage. And there are still other
cultures in the Mediterranean that remain even more
marginal and unknown for European academics. Especially the North
African cultures, which entered into contact
with the Phoenician colonies at roughly the
same time as Iberia. The study of Phoenician
settlements in North Africa always takes primacy and
is seen as more important than the local cultures–
over indigenous developments and adaptations, right? Despite the proximity
and parallel development to some degree of these
regions on both shores of the Mediterranean,
the North African ones remain on the other side
of a horizontal line of linguistic, cultural,
and political barriers. As well as of modern and
cultural valorization. To finish with
one last thought– and I think this
is why they gave me the NEH grant– I hope
this conversation really, ultimately, stimulates a
sort of reflection in a time when issues of identity,
of ethnicity, and migration are under special scrutiny. At time when
political conflict is inflected with religious
and ethnic overtones. And when the rift
between East and West, the West and the Levant,
is particularly poignant. Thank you for your attention. [APPLAUSE] We can take one or two
questions, if there are any? Yes. Why did you decide to
start studying this? Oof! Tartessos, you mean? Because I started–
as a classicist, I started from Greece. And then I was fascinated by
the Middle Eastern cultures– modern, [INAUDIBLE]. And I found a connection
through the Phoenicians, in a sense, because they
are classical sources. They are from the Middle East. And that really
took me to Spain. Not because– I
mean, I’m Spanish. But it was really later. It wasn’t an initial interest. But then once I was
studying the Phoenicians, I was like, oh, I should take
a look at the Phoenicians in Spain. And I started
researching that area. So I found in that– in
Tartessos– really kind of a very nice mystery. Where, I mean, you have
a little of everything– you have classical sources,
you have archeology, you have colonialism. You have the Semitic element,
and all those tensions that I study more
generally between classics and Near Eastern studies. Yes, Peter. [INAUDIBLE] thank you
very much, [INAUDIBLE]. It was a great talk and
particularly [INAUDIBLE] has been difficult
to [INAUDIBLE]. This is really helping–
the way your work is trying to bring together
all of those various lines. And I thought it was really
interesting [INAUDIBLE] talk, and that’s really my question. Because where you
saying, well, we would perhaps [INAUDIBLE] if
we would have more literature, and so we would grasp it better. But I’ve often bee thinking
the opposite, particularly in the sense that
it is precisely because of all the
sort of references and– as vague as they are– in
the literature about Tartessos that people are looking
for kind of archaeological that they’re never
going to find. Because they’re looking for,
to find textual references in the landscape,
which is, obviously, a sort of fool’s errand. And if you compare it, for
instance, to the later area you talked about– the
Cancho Roano and, you know, how the work has been done
there archaeologically on [INAUDIBLE], and [INAUDIBLE],
and those sort of places. That’s archaeologically
very well-defined. And the problem is
perhaps how to cast it into this sort of
textual framework. But it is the
textual kind of thing that tends to expound the frame? And the same with your
[INAUDIBLE] or [INAUDIBLE], sort of wanting to
see– paint really sort of the golden
period overviews, whereas sort of more focused,
dedicated archaeological work have made sense of
things and situations in their local contexts? I agree with everything you say. No, I see what you– yeah. I see what you mean. I mean, it’s true. It’s true that the
moment you have text, you try to impose–
I mean, you go to sites or to areas with
a preconceived idea, right? So maybe that’s– what excites
me is to try to look both ways. Basically, when it
comes to Greece, why can’t we look to
Orientalizing materials or Archaic– or, let’s say,
Geometric into Orientalizing with a clean mind? It’s very hard,
because, you know, it’s leading towards
what’s Greek. So you rest importance to
what’s happening there. Or you rest importance
to the cultural change and the cultural exchange
that is happening, because, in a sense, it’s
all leading to something you already know what
it’s going to be. So it goes both ways. I’d like us to be more
clear of the texts when it comes to looking
at Greek material. And then I’d like
us to perhaps think that why not, in
the West, you may have as complex communities,
or with their own mythologies and literatures and so on,
that we’re never going to know, obviously, as you
have in Greece. Where you have, you know,
in the Geometric Period, you have the Homeric
poems going around. Obviously, we don’t know that
there was anything coming close to that. There’s nothing coming
very close to that in the world in general– not
to rest uniqueness to that. But in a sense,
it’s almost like we think impossible to– we’re
so cautious in interpreting beyond archeology, because
we don’t have text, that I think we are
sometimes too minimalistic. Like well, I think
communities that generate that type of, in a
sense, material homogeneity must have some type
of cultural identity. Not to say ethnic, which is,
like, a forbidden word anymore. You know? But I really think
that we can kind of try to balance a bit more by
looking at this period more with a comparative eye in
terms of, a lot of communities are in a similar situation. And then that they are
coming into contact with these networks. And that they may be
equally transformative, but in all peculiar
ways, in different areas. See what I mean? And that the common
thread, in a sense, is the Phoenician expansion
with a very early Greek kind of follow-up on that. That it does come from
the East, but it’s neither diffused– completely
diffusionistic, nor– I mean, I’m trying to find a balance
between those things. If it makes sense. [INAUDIBLE] we thank
Carolina again, and have a glass of wine. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]


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