The Gendered House

Exploring Domestic Space in Later Italian Prehistory


  • Andrea Dolfini Newcastle University



gender, identity, house, household, Italy, prehistory, Bronze Age, Iron Age


This paper discusses how gender was reproduced at Sorgenti della Nova, a Final Bronze Age settlement in west-central Italy. The paper examines structural features and finds from a domestic assemblage comprising a large elliptical dwelling (House 2) and surrounding buildings, which lay on one of the artificially carved terraces that made up the prehistoric village. Structural and spatial analysis yielded meaningful insights into the organization of domestic life at this site. It is argued in particular that House 2 was divided into three activity areas, and that essential tasks for the physical and social reproduction of the household were carried out in the space outside the house. Examination of the small finds has allowed identification of several engendered practices, including spinning/weaving and domestic rituals. Based on these findings, it is argued that gender was not performed in isolation, but was inseparably intertwined with other facets of social identity including age, status and kin. The study concludes that not only gender but also an entire idea of society was constructed in the house through the daily performance of meaningful domestic practices.

Author Biography

Andrea Dolfini, Newcastle University

Andrea Dolfini is Lecturer in Later Prehistory and Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies at Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He is interested in the archaeology of Italian prehistory from the Neolithic to the Early Iron Age, with a special focus on early metal technology. He has worked extensively in west-central Italy.



How to Cite

Dolfini, A. (2013). The Gendered House: Exploring Domestic Space in Later Italian Prehistory. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 26(2), 131–157.