In February 2007 there was a flurry of media reports that DNA had been used to prove that the Etruscans originated in Anatolia in modern Turkey. This went against the current archaeological consensus that claims them as an indigenous people in Italy. I decided to investigate…
After an extensive search in new interdisciplinary territory I concluded that the media reports were not quite right and that, as usual, the truth was far more complicated and interesting. You can find out my conclusions at Classics Confidential or YouTube (part 1 and part 2). Parts of this research has been published first in a paper written in honour of Sybille Haynes.
Perkins, P. (2009) ‘DNA and Etruscan identity’ in Perkins, P. and Swaddling, J. (eds.) Etruscan by Definition, British Museum Press, pp.95-111, ISBN-13: 978-0-86159-173-2. (online draft). Another paper is in press ‘The Etruscans, Their DNA And The Orient’ in the, proceedings of the international congress Intercultural Contacts in the Ancient Mediterranean held in the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo in 2008.
I am currently excavating at Poggio Colla, to the north west of Florence, in collaboration Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, The University of Texas at Austin and Franklin and Marshall College as a part of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project. Within the broader project exploring the hilltop sactuary, settlement and its context at Poggio Colla I am focusing on the north west hill slope where deposits dating to the Orientalizing Period (about 675-575 BCE) have been found. Here we have found rare evidence for economic activity in this early part of the Etruscan period. We have finds relating to textile spinning and pottery manufacture. In 2009 we excavated three ‘fire-pits’ probably pottery kilns, and part of a stone quarry, possibly used for the construction of the first temple on the hill top in the mid sixth century. In 2010 we will explore these industrial installations further. Details are available online: Poggio Colla 2008 North West Slope project and Final Report.
Stamped bucchero bowl and quarried stone
In 2007 I published the results of five years of research into Etruscan Bucchero ceramics in the British Museum. The book provides a history of the study of bucchero and the formation of the Museum's collection. The largest part contains detailed discussion of over 300 ceramic objects, that are contextualized within the past 75 years of scholarship and study of bucchero. All the objects are illustrated. Some of this research was supported Arts and Humanities Research Board, and the book presents a complete catalogue of this distinctive type of pottery in the Greek and Roman Department of the British Museum.
Perkins, P. (2007) Etruscan Bucchero in the British Museum The British Museum Press, London136pp, ISBN 978 0 86159 165 7
|Etruscan bucchero amphorae|
Whilst working at the British Museum I co-organized with Dr. J. Swaddling the Etruscans Now Conference, a major international conference held at the British Museum in December 2002, and attended by 143 scholars from 13 countries. The conference was supported by The British Academy and the British Museum Friends. Abstracts and draft papers from the international conference are still available on the conference website Etruscans Now. Selected papers have been published in volumes 9 and 10 of Etruscan Studies (Selected papers were to be published in a special edition of the United States journal Etruscan Studies. A summary of the conference has been published in the periodical Minerva. (Perkins, P. (2003) ‘The inner life of the Etruscans’, Minerva, Vol.14 No.5, 42-3).
Since the early 1980’s I have been involved in archaeological field work in the Albegna Valley in southern Tuscany. This collaborative work with colleagues from Pisa, Siena and elsewhere in the UK and Italy has involved extensive multi-period field survey, excavation and artefact analysis. I have been working with the data relating to the Etruscan period, particularly the ceramic finds and the settlement pattern. Publication of field survey data collected during the 1980’s has involved analysis of Etruscan sites, settlement and burial patterns using GIS to study settlement location and state organization of territory; reconstruction of population change in the region through the first Millennium BC; analysis of Etruscan artefact distributions; and reconstruction of the Etruscan economy.
Currently I am modelling the archaeology of Etruscan communities by analysis of field survey and topographic data with Geographical Information Systems (GIS). This work is pushing the boundaries of GIS beyond environmental factors to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution of social and economic variables derived from the distributions of settlements, population, territory and material culture. Initial findings were presented at the 6th Conference of Italian Archaeology, Groeningen University, Netherlands, in April 2003 and further discussed in an invited paper at the international colloquium L'Etrurie et l'Ombrie avant Rome. Cité et territoire, in Louvain, Belgium, in February 2004. This paper begins to extend the scope of the analysis from the Albegna Valley towards Etruria as a whole and was published in 2010.
In 1986-6 I direction the first ever excavation of an Etruscan farm site at Podere Tartuchino. The site was discovered by survey as a surface scatter and excavated in order to investigate the sub-surface remains, provide evidence for the economy of small rural sites and to recover stratified ceramic assemblages to date surface scatters. The excavation revealed two phases of building and uncovered the earliest wine-press yet found in Italy. The project was funded by The British School at Rome, the British Academy and other Italian public sources. The award of an Ellaina Macnamara Memorial Scholarship for Etruscan Archaeology enabled the publication of the excavation. The farm remains the only Etruscan farm to be both excavated and fully published.
Perkins, P. (2010) ‘The cultural and political landscape of the Ager Caletranus, North-West of Vulci’. in Fontaine, P. (ed.) L'Etrurie et l'Ombrie avant Rome. Cité et territoire, Brussels-Rome, Belgisch Historisch Instituut te Rome, 103-22.
Perkins, P. (2005) ‘Who lived in the Etruscan Albegna Valley?’, in Attema, P., Nijboer A. and Zifferero A. (eds), Papers in Italian Archaeology VI Communities and settlements from the Neolithic to the Early Medieval Period, BAR(S) 1452(I), Oxford, pp.109-17.
Perkins, P. (2002) ‘L’epoca Etrusca’, in Paesaggi d'Etruria, Carandini, A., Cambi, F, Celuzza, M. and Fentress, E.B. (eds.), Rome, Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 69-89, 93-102.
Firmati, M. (ed) (2001) Scansano: guida al territorio: museo della vite e del vino: museo archeologico, Siena, Nuova Imagine, 95, 99, 122, 124, 4 computer graphics.
Perkins, P. (2000) ‘Modelling Etruscan settlement patterns with GIS in the Albegna Valley’, in Lockyear, K., Sly, T. J. T. and Mihailescu-Birliba, V. (eds) Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 1996, BAR International Series 845, 133-40.
Perkins, P. (2000) ‘Urbanisation, settlement, burial and people in the Albegna Valley’, in Herring, E. and Lomas, K. (eds) The emergence of state identities in Italy in the first millennium BC, London, Accordia Research Institute, 91-108.
Perkins, P. (1999) Etruscan Settlement, Society and Material Culture in Central Coastal Etruria, BAR International Series 788, Oxford, Archaeopress.
Perkins, P. (1999) ‘Reconstructing the population history of the Albegna Valley and Ager Cosanus, Tuscany, Italy in the Etruscan Period’, in Gillings, M., Mattingly, D. and van Dalen, J. (eds), Geographical Information Systems and Landscape Archaeology, Oxford, Oxbow Books, 103-115.
Perkins, P. (1998) ‘Etruscan Pottery from the Albegna Valley / Ager Cosanus Survey’. Internet Archaeology, 4, http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue4/perkins_ index.html 62994 words, 200 images.
Perkins, P. (1998) Review of 'Poggio Colla. The 1995 Season Sampler', Internet Archaeology, 4, http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue4/reviews/perkins.html.
Perkins, P. with Attolini, I. (1992) ‘The Excavation of an Etruscan Farm at Podere Tartuchino’, Papers of the British School at Rome, 60, 1-76.
Perkins, P. et al. (1991) ‘Political Geography and productive geography between the valleys of the Albegna and the Fiora in northern Etruria’, in Barker, G. and Lloyd, J. (eds), Roman Landscapes: Archaeological Survey in the Mediterranean region, London, British School at Rome, 142-152.
Perkins, P. (1991) ‘Cities, cemeteries and rural settlements of the Albegna valley and Ager Cosanus in the Orientalizing and Archaic periods’, in Herring, E., Whitehouse, R. and Wilkins, J. (eds), Papers of the Fourth Conference of Italian Archaeology, Vol.1, London, Accordia Research Centre, 135-144.
Perkins, P. and Walker, L. (1990) ‘Field Survey of the Etruscan City at Doganella’, Papers of the British School at Rome, 58, 1-144.
In 1992 I co-directed a pioneering post-medieval excavation of the Villa Pigneto Sacchetti, a 17th century AD baroque villa in Rome in a project with Canterbury School of Architecture and the University of Rome, funded by the British School at Rome and the Carnegie Trust. The Villa Pigneto Sacchetti, built by the painter and architect Pietro da Cortona, was believed lost, but field survey re-located the building and excavation recovered a partial ground plan, enabling a comparison of the physical remains with the surviving eighteenth century architectural drawings and seventeenth century documents.
Recently we have revisited the interpretation in the light of new art historical research on the villa’s decoration, proposing a more complex, phased, building history than previously.
Perkins, P. and Schafer, S. (2000) ‘The excavation of the Villa Pigneto Sacchetti’, Papers of the British School at Rome, 68, 269-320.
Perkins, P. and Schafer, S. (2009) ‘The Villa Pigneto Sacchetti excavation: a new interpretation’, Papers of the British School at Rome, 77, pp.273-90, ISSN 0068 2462
I have a long term interest in research into Roman economic and settlement histories through the analysis of the chronological and spatial distribution of African Red Slip ware (1st - 7th century AD). In collaboration with colleagues, quantification of a data set of 20,000+ sherds of African Red Slip Ware from field surveys and other representative finds, charts the frequency of imports of the ware into individual areas across the Mediterranean. Deviations from the average frequency reflect the economic history of the area surveyed, and provide a control for using presence of the ware as a dating tool for survey sites. If you have data on red slip ware finds (especially, but not exclusively African) that you are prepared to share please let me know so that the data set can grow even more.
ARS supply per year at Monreale with mean
Fentress, E., Fontana, S., Hitchner, R.B. and Perkins, P. (2004) ‘Accounting for ARS: Fineware and Sites in Sicily and Africa’, in Alcock, S. E. and Cherry, J. F. eds. Side by Side Survey: Comparative Regional Studies in the Mediterranean World, Oxford, Oxbow Books, 147-162.
Fentress, E. and Perkins, P. (1988) ‘Counting African Red Slip Ware’, in: Mastino, A. (ed.), L'Africa Romana: Atti del V Convegno di studio Sassari, 11-13 dicembre 1987, Sassari, Dipartimento di Storia Università degli Studi di Sassari, 205-214.
My interest in this area derives from the multi-period field survey project south of Palermo in western Sicily, directed by Dr. Jeremy Johns, Wolfson College, Oxford. Analysis of the finds and settlements from the Roman period reveals a unique settlement history where large villas develop into extensive villages in the 1st century AD. Artefacts found provide the basis for analysis of the material culture history and economic history of the area. In particular study of the amphorae have enabled a new interpretation of the relationship between Sicily and Rome in the context of the state corn supply in the Republican period. Fieldwork was completed in 1987 and the report is now in preparation.
Pot from Monreale
Perkins, P (in press) ‘Aliud in Sicilia’, in Terranato, N. and van Dommelen, P. Articulating local culture. Power and identity under the expanding Roman Republic to be published in the supplementary series of the Journal of Roman Archaeology.
See also Open Research Online for further details of Phil Perkins’s research publications.