Matters of Use and Consumption
The Urban-Rural Divide in Punic and Republican Sardinia (4th–1st Centuries bc)
Keywords:city-country (urban-rural) relationships, consumption, Punic, Republican, Sardinia
The study of city-country relationships in the classical world has long been a widely recognized field of research. While recent studies tend to reconsider the well-established traditional town centric approach and new perspectives emphasize the agrarian dimension of towns, little attention has been devoted to the distinctive materiality of rural and urban life. The main focus of this paper falls on comparative patterns of consumption of, and specific material culture used by, communities inhabiting larger settlements as opposed to those distinctive households at smaller rural sites. By focusing on ceramic material assemblages from a range of excavated and surveyed sites dating to the Punic and Republican period on the island of Sardinia, I explore the urban rural divide and use portable material culture as evidence of consumption and daily activities carried out at urban and rural sites. Based on these data, I emphasize the wide diversification within the rural world and the long-term development of larger settlements through the lens of ceramic material culture in use. I suggest that the detailed study of ceramic assemblages may shed new light on human activities and the distinctive ways of life in urban and rural contexts; I also propose that the availability of a wider range of goods and more sophisticated patterns of consumption are specific attributes of urban life.
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