Archaeology Congress 2012


International Conference from 20 to 23 March 2012:




updated program  


The archaic Mediterranean world – a world of pre‐global interaction?

The archaic Mediterranean world was lastingly impacted by the Phoenicians, Greeks and Etruscans. The terra cognita of the time was widely explored by aristocratic entrepreneurs and settlers, though also by physicians, philosophers, merchants and craftsmen. Their migration was accompanied by the spreading of their talents, goods and merchandise, and of course also knowledge, religious systems, technologies and fashions.

The general aim of this conference will be to trace these pre‐global complexities of circums­tances, people and their activities along coastlines and within the indigenous western Mediter­ranean hinterland areas. In doing so, we mainly intend to adopt two different approaches:

Firstly, we want to trace “things in motion”, i.e. the trans‐Mediterranean flow of goods and merchandise which combined the hinterland and the coastlines of the ancient Mediterra­nean world into a world of shared transactions.

Secondly, we want to enquire where, how and for what purpose local communities linked in with this pre‐global flow, resulting in the redistribution of such “things in motion”.


“Things in Motion” and “Western Mediterraneanization”

The routes of the trans‐Mediterranean elite network were marked by the movement of mer­chandise and prestigious goods and also of fashions and technologies. This is still reflected in finds throughout the Mediterranean – Greek ceramics, Etruscan drinking party accessories made of bronze, so‐called objets gaulois and also earthenware fragments and vessels with etched let­ters in derivatives of the Greek alphabet.

Interestingly, any finds relating to these “things in motion” become more scarce the further we move eastwards. This is why – as an experiment – the conference will focus closely on the western Mediterranean and, in particular, the geographic quadrangle comprising central Italy, Languedoc / Catalonia, Tunisia and Western Sicily. Was there perhaps the emergence of an elite koiné in this western Mediterranean quadrangle in the 6th and early 5th century BC? And did it really have an Etruscanising face, as suggested by the currently available finds? To what extent might this cultural dominance of the Etruscans have served the purpose of cultural differentiati­on from the eastern Mediterranean?


Coastal and Inland Sanctuaries as emporia ‐Centres of a Western Mediterranean Network of elites?

In this shared world of western Mediterranean transactions the sacred zones of sanctuaries and places of worship functioned as central hubs. Under the “protection of the altar” it was possible to defuse any potential conflict that was continually latent whenever there was an encounter between ethnic groups. Approaching the issue from the opposite angle, this takes us to the second major question at the conference: Could an elite network ever have developed in the multi‐ethnic and highly fragmented habitats of the archaic western Mediterranean if it had not been for such sanctified zones of encounter and of mutual acceptance between members of the different elites?

Interregional sanctuaries of this kind were referred to as emporía by Herodotus (2,179 and 4,152), a concept which was developed by Karl Polanyi into the model of a port of trade in his substantivist economic anthropology. Important coastal and sea‐focused sanctuaries are fre­quently referred to as emporía and ports of trade in academic research – for instance Graviscae, Pyrgi and Empuries.

As an experiment, the conference will widen the concept of those emporía to include the in­land sanctuaries that could be found at watersheds and which thus often provided a link be­tween river valleys and the coast. They will be examined as strategic hubs for traffic and com­munication between the indigenous hinterland and the colonial coastlands. To what extent does this change of perspective lead to a view whereby such inland sanctuaries no longer appear as borderline sanctuaries or as zones of a supposed clash of civilisations? Instead, can they actually be seen as similar to the coastal emporía? And, likewise, did they perhaps function just as much as centres of inter‐elite encounters and as places where intercultural skills were negotiated, thus forming the very basis for any connection with the western Mediterranean elite network?


Sanctuaries and the formation of elites: power of consumption – consumption of power

The main focus of research into sanctuaries as scenes for the formation of elites will be on the power of consumption and on the consumption of power. Consumption was generally subject to the local “registers of consumption”, provided by locally dominating social structures and power relations.

By focusing on the registers of consumption, the centre of interest in the research will be on the “settings” and “resettings” of privileges, i.e. goods and technologies of foreign cultures, which served to form and sustain local power claims. The ethnic provenance of the various pro­tagonists no longer played a primary role. Rather, the main focus was on the forms of consump­tion in which they engaged. To what extent were each of these “registers of consumptions” em­bedded into local forms of commensal politics which then provided the basis for “incorporating” the social order? Also, what was the role of intercultural fashions and practices through which local elites culturally distanced themselves from their own people while at the same time devel­oping an affinity to other members of the (western) Mediterranean elite koiné, both mentally and socially?


Three sessions in 4 days

These three thematic areas will be explored in three sessions which will build logically on one another:

1: “Things in Motion” and “Western Mediterraneanization”

2: Coastal and Inland Sanctuaries as Centres of a Western Mediterranean Elite Network

3: Sanctuaries and the Formation of Elites: Power of Consumption – Consumption of Pow­er


Languages: English, German, Italian



Prof. Dr. Erich Kistler (

MMag.a Birgit Öhlinger (

Institut für Archäologien
Fachbereich Klassische und Provinzialrömische Archäologie
ATRIUM – Zentrum für Alte Kulturen
Langer Weg 11
A-6020 Innsbruck
Seminarraum 1

How to get there; also see:

Bus line C - Bus line R - Bus line F to the venue

Bus line R (direction DEZ-IKEA) → bus stop „St. Pirmin/Volkshaus“

Bus line C (direction Baggersee/Luigenstraße) → bus stop „Andechsstraße"

Bus line F (direction Baggersee) → bus stop „Andechsstraße"



We thank our generous sponsors:

Land Tirol
Italienzentrum der Universität Innsbruck
Vizerektorat für Forschung der Universität Innsbruck
Dekanat der Philosophisch-Historischen Fakultät der Universität Innsbruck
Büro für Internationale Beziehungen der Universität Innsbruck
Land Voralberg
ÖFG – Österreichische Forschungsgemeinschaft
Stiftung Fürstl. Kommerzienrat Guido Feger
CEnT – Cultural Encounters and Contacts
SENSYS Sensorik & Systemtechnologie GmbH
Stadt Innsbruck
Tourismusverband Innsbruck
Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag




More detailed information about Sensys:


Institut für Archäologien
Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck
ATRIUM - Zentrum für Alte Kulturen - Langer Weg 11
A-6020 Innsbruck / Österreich

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