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From shardania to laestrygonia... Eastern origin prestige goods and technical transfers in Corsica through middle and final Bronze Age

Abstract : This paper aims to present the data concerning the identification of material and know-how originating from eastern Mediterranean in Corsica through Middle Bronze Age (1600-1200 BC) and Final Bronze Age (1200-800 C). In this island, the question of the presence of Aegean elements was, for a long time, associated to a theory involving a foreign-born population, the Shardana, a group mentioned amongst the famous Sea Peoples. After the abandonment of these historic-factual constructions, the insular archaeological research became associated with the analysis of the sociocultural character of insular groups from the Bronze Age, without trying to connect them to the cultural dynamics from Eastern Mediterranean. After three decades of scientific introspection, it seems important to propose an updated inventory on this specific issue. The relations between the Aegean and Near-Eastern areas are documented today by several discoveries, reconsiderations of objects and specific analyses made over the last fifteen years. In the early 2000’s, the first formal testimony of Eastern import in Corsica is a copper oxide ingot, possibly of Cypriot origin, found at Sant'Anastasia in the North-Eastern area of the island. This object published by F. Lo Schiavo illustrates the integration even marginal of Corsica into the metal circulation network in the Mediterranean during the late 2nd millennium BC. This discovery thereby came to partially fulfil an important gap in the research, particularly illustrated by a strong contrast amongst the number of finds of this type between Corsica and Sardinia. At the same time, the realisation of analyses on vitreous materials (laser ablation coupled to mass spectrometry) unearthed during ancient excavations at the sites of Foce, Tiresa and Filitosa, permitted to understand the context of production and reveal the near-eastern origin of the materials. More recently, the discovery of a closed set of ornaments in a sepulchral context of the late Middle Bronze Age at the site of Campu Stefanu (southwest) provided one of the largest deposits for this type of production throughout the Western Mediterranean. This necklace is composed of 25 blue glass beads of Near-Eastern origin, even Egyptian, and of 29 Baltic amber beads of Aegean typology, which show, in addition, a perfect physical, chemical and morphological superposition with isolated beads from contemporary sepulchral contexts of Sardinia. In this context, the formal non-recognition of Helladic vessels in Corsica, while several cases are known and published in Nuragic area, seems to be explained by a delay in research. Besides these direct testimonies betraying the importation of exotic prestige goods in Corsica between the XIVth and the XIIth centuries, recent achievements illustrate the existence of technical transfers between the island and the Mycenaean world around the middle and late 2nd millennium BC. These phenomena are notably materialised by the strong technical and iconographic analogies observed in the repoussé work of metal sheets. The matrices recognised in Corsica indeed present profound affinities with those found in Greece. Unlike imported exotica and bullions, the repoussé metalwork is not very well known in Sardinia and in the italic peninsula at that time, thereby introducing a direct transfer of know-how between these two territories. Through these few examples, of which we sense a short-term enrichment, we will try to measure and explain the integration of different types of remains within the native society, in order to better understand the position of the island within the networks between the two Mediterranean basins. Corsica is an island situated in the Western Mediterranean between Sardinia and the Ligurian and Tuscan coasts. Spreading over 8680 km2 and possessing a coastline more than 1000 km long, Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean. The territory is mainly mountainous with rugged coasts which are particularly noticeable from the sea. This paper focuses on the longstanding ties between insular groups during the second half of the 2nd millennium BC with their neighbours from the East. To address this, we essentially refer to data and results stemming from the analysis of archaeological materials.
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Contributor : Ludovic Bellot-Gurlet <>
Submitted on : Monday, February 22, 2021 - 7:52:10 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - 3:51:57 AM
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  • HAL Id : hal-02110728, version 1


Kewin Peche-Quilichini, Ludovic Bellot-Gurlet, Joseph Cesari, Bernard Gratuze, Jean Graziani, et al.. From shardania to laestrygonia... Eastern origin prestige goods and technical transfers in Corsica through middle and final Bronze Age. Aegaeum - Annales d'archéologie égéenne de l'université de Liège et UT-PASP, 2017, “Hesperos. The Aegean Seen from the West”, Proceedings of the 16th International Aegean Conference, University of Ioannina, Department of History and Archaeology, Unit of Archaeology and Art History, 18-21 May 2016, 41, pp.61-71. ⟨hal-02110728⟩



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