Our new ANR program : GEPRICO

Geprico (January 2023-January 2027), awarded by the ANR, brings together 5 CNRS laboratories (Temos, UMR 9016; AOrOc, UMR 8546; ASM, UMR 5140; CCJ, UMR 7299; Halma, UMR 8164) around the theme of Greek, Etruscan and Gallic banqueting practices in the north-western Mediterranean between the 6th and 4th centuries BC.

For more informations, see : https://bioarchaeo.hypotheses.org/research-programs/geprico

During this period, the north-western Mediterranean was traversed by three great civilizations of navigators: Etruscans, Greeks and Phoenician-Punic. From the main ports of maritime Etruria, the Etruscans maintained maritime trade relations with the Greeks and the indigenous communities along the Gallic and North Iberian coasts. The indigenous communities of the coastal strip of this region, particularly those of southern France, played an active part in these exchanges. Coastal trading posts, which were both centers of trade open to Mediterranean commerce and interfaces for the temporary or permanent reception of foreign traders, saw the development of sharing and mixing phenomena alongside diversified cultural and societal expressions. Among the cultural interactions and interpenetrations that brought Etruscan, Greek and Gallic societies closer together, the commensal rite is one of the best documented thanks to material sources found in habitats and tombs: banquet crockery, storage and transport vases, culinary ceramics, biological remains of meals (archaeozoology and archaeobotany). Archaeological evidence abounds of collective banquets characterized by a partly common material culture of Greek and Etruscan origin (dishes, drinking, pouring and storage vessels, mortars, amphorae, etc.). Depending on the context, meals were prepared for the living, the dead and the deities, and the same ceramic categories were used in sanctuaries. Sacrifices are eaten and drunk in sanctuaries and, in the case of theoxenias, the gods even take part in the feast “as if they were men”. Beyond an apparent similarity interpreted through the filter of the Greco-Etruscan symposion model, the question arises as to the reality and diversity of rites in different archaeological contexts (habitat/funerary/sanctuary) and cultural domains (Etruscan/Greek/Gallic).

An innovative approach combining the techno-functional study of artefacts with biochemical and proteomic analyses of their contents, will reveal the specificities of rites from one region to another and from one type of context to another. 8 contexts in Italy, Spain and France have been selected: 1) Tarquinia, Civita monumental complex; 2) Pyrgi, port sanctuary; 3) Gravisca, port sanctuary; 4) Aléria, monumental chamber tombs of Mattonata and Arboratelle-Casabianda ; 5) Marseille, banquet halls at Place des Pistoles and Collège du Vieux-Port; 6) La Monédière, votive pit with remains of a collective banquet; 7) Lattes and La Courgoulude, votive pits with remains of collective banquets; 8) Ampurias, port sanctuary. Within each of these contexts, around 25 ceramic, stone and metal artifacts will be studied in connection with the preparation or performance of collective rituals: mortars, braziers, kernoi plastic vases, miniature vases, culinary ceramics, transport vases, storage, mixing, serving and drinking vases, and ritually mutilated or broken vases. Nearly 200 artefacts will thus be the subject of a functional study including tracing and volumetry coupled with molecular (GC-MS) and proteomic analyses.

The first objective of this program is to identify biological products that do not usually leave visible traces, those of plant origin (wine, beer, mead, plant resins and tars, cereals and aromatic plants) and those of animal origin (animal fats, bile, dairy products, beehive products). The second objective, based on the results of the content analyses coupled with a techno-ceramic study of the containers, is to establish a functional typology of ceramics at the scale of each site studied, in order to characterize the functions of ceramics used during banqueting rituals. The third objective, thanks to a comparative approach integrating all the data from archaeological excavations, content analyses and techno-ceramic studies, is to define the consumption practices common to all the sites and the three cultures, and to highlight the differences revealing diversified cultural practices and references.