A Female Musician or Dancer of Iron Age in Southern Italy?

Bellia, Angela (2011) A Female Musician or Dancer of Iron Age in Southern Italy? [Preprint]
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The excavations conducted by Paola Zancani Montuoro between 1963 and 1969 in the necropolis at Macchiabate (Cosenza), an anonymous city that in the archaic period gravitated under Sybarite rule, brought to light the Tomb T.60 that belonging to a woman that dated back to the VIII century B.C. The things that were found, were distinguished, from other burial places in the same necropolis, for the exceptional nature of the findings. This led to the theory that the dead woman was a person of importance in that community. The funeral equipment, now kept in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale della Sibaritide, consisted of ceramics, ornaments and bronze objects that were either worn by or placed around the skeleton; amongst these were musical instruments and objects. Under the dead woman’s elbow was a ‘ladden sistrum’ (19,8x11,3x1,8 cm) made up of 15 spirals held together by two plates that terminated in a lateral volute. Above the musical instrument there was an object consisting of seventeen little tubes (average diameter 7 mm and maximum length 96 mm) which, in comparison with similar integral examples that had bells with clapper, found in Sicily, must have formed the extremity of a rattle made of big rings, probably to be worn around the neck. Above there was a musical object consisting of nine concentric elements (H. 40 cm.) which turned around an internal support that has been lost. Above all these objects were two cymbals and a ‘raschiatoio’ made of forty one rings. It was found in perfect condition which probably meant there had been a support inside the object along which the rings could slide. It was probably made of perishable material. These objects were probably produced locally and seemed to have been influenced by oriental handicraft. At the moment there were no studies which give an interpretation of the presence of musical instruments and objects in this part of Southern Italy which, on one hand, could be proof of cultural and commercial exchanges in the Iron Age between the local population and the Orient. This is widely documented by archaeological findings. On the other hand, it is evidence of a particular funeral rite and a precise cultural sphere, to which the woman of Francavilla seems to have belonged and whose sacred status is also denoted by the musical objects found among the funeral equipment.

Document type
Bellia, Angela0000-0002-1517-6012
ladden sistrum;cymbals; raschiatoio; musical objects; rattle neck-lace; sistrum with rings; necropoli di Macchiabate
Deposit date
25 Jan 2011 10:33
Last modified
28 Nov 2016 09:15

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