Handbook of the 33rd annual meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group (Central TAG 2011) pages:112-112
Central TAG edition:33rd annual meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group location:Birmingham date:14-16 December 2011
During the Middle and Late Bronze Age (BM - BR, ca. 1650-1150 BC), the Central Po Plain (Northern Italy), was characterised by the presence of large, regularly organised, ditched settlements. The ‘rise’ of these so-called terramare has traditionally been explained by a
colonisation of the Plain by people immigrating from elsewhere (Cardarelli 2009). It can be argued however that this part of the terramare grand narrative has been influenced by differences in site numbers caused by variable archaeological visibility. Already in the 19th
century, the overrepresentation of the pluristratigraphical terramare in the Plain and Bronze Age wetland sites around the North-Italian lakes allowed Pigorini to develop a nationalistic theory according to which Italy was gradually colonised from the North. Less easily observable
pre-terramaricoli sites were often lacking still and migration constituted an ideal ‘deus ex machina’ explanation for cultural change. Since the resumption of the studies in the 1980s, it is rather the ‘unnatural boom in settlement density’ during the BM2 that has been stressed,seen as the result of ‘an influx of people from outside’.
The author intends to argue that asking the question ‘Why are these BM2 sites better represented?’ is crucial for revising this theory. BM2 sites are archaeologically better
visible because they were (from then on) occupied for longer time spans and often feature embankments. These phenomena can possibly be seen as the result of the introduction of irrigation techniques (resulting archaeologically in a change from low to high density sites). Addressing the representativity issue can help us, in other words, to reflect on what exactly triggered social change.