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Objects with attitude: biographical facts and fallacies in the study of the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age warrior graves

Whitley, Anthony James Monins 2002. Objects with attitude: biographical facts and fallacies in the study of the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age warrior graves. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 12 (2) , pp. 217-232. 10.1017/S0959774302000112

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Aegean prehistory still has to deal with the legacy of ‘Homeric archaeology’. One of these legacies is the ‘warrior grave’, or practice of burying individuals (men?) with weapons which we find both in the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age in the Aegean. This article suggests that the differences between the ‘weapon burial rituals’ in these two periods can tell us much about the kind of social and cultural changes that took place across the Bronze Age/Iron Age ‘divide’ of c. 1100 BC. In neither period, however, can items deposited in ‘warrior graves’ be seen as straightforward biographical facts that tell us what the individual did and suffered in life. Rather, the pattern of grave goods should be seen as a metaphor for a particular kind of identity and ideal. It is only in the Early Iron Age that this identity begins to correspond to the concept of the ‘hero’ as described in the Iliad. One means towards our better understanding of this new identity is to follow up work in anthropology on the biography of objects. It is argued that the ‘life cycle’ of ‘entangled objects’, a cycle which ends in deposition in a grave, provides us with indispensable clues about the nature of new social identities in Early Iron Age Greece.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
Uncontrolled Keywords: warrior grave; Aegean prehistory; art, early Greek.
Additional Information: Pdf uploaded in accordance with publisher's policy at (accessed 21/02/2014).
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0959-7743
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 05:48

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