Cultural Transmission and Semantic Change of Ceramic Forms in Grave Goods of Hellenistic Etruria
This contribution addresses semantic change in ceramics as connected to identity construction. With three case studies from Hellenistic Etruria, beaked situlae, lagynoi and amphorae, I aim to answer the following research question: How can a change of vessel functions in funerary contexts express the changing cultural identities of the deceased and their family? The choice of funerary contexts allows an approximation of the change of meaning through the analysis of the distance between daily life and ritual function of the objects. Each case study presents a different relationship between changing meaning and identity construction: the beaked situlae, related to the social identity of new social layers; the amphorae, related to local cultural identities during the process of Romanisation; and the lagynoi, related to the construction of multicultural identities in newfounded agricultural settlements. The distinct patterns of the three forms suggest the possibility of analysing stratified and complex societies by the study of changing meaning.