Added: October 25, 2000 – Last updated: January 6, 2018


Author: John Robb

Title: Female Beauty and Male Violence in Early Italian Society


In: Naked Truths: Women, sexuality, and gender in classical art and archaeology

Edited by: Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow and Claire L. Lyons

Place: London and New York

Publisher: Routledge

Year: 1997 (hbk.), 2000 (pbk.)

Pages: 43-65

ISBN-10: 0415159954 (hbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-10: 0415217520 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-10: 020318274X (ebk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Prehistory | European History: Italian History | Representations: Art / Prehistoric Art



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Author: John Robb, Department of Archaeology, University of

Abstract: »John Robb (“Female Beauty and Male Violence in Early Italian Society”) reveals asymmetries in the symbolic expressions of male and female identity in Italic prehistory, where clothing, jewelry, weaponry, and weaving implements are the idioms utilized to define and legitimize gender and class distinctions. Based on a survey of skeletal biology, mortuary rites, and artistic representations of anatomically marked figures from the Neolithic to the beginning of the historical period, he proposes a social and symbolic interpretation of gender roles among “honor-shame” societies of Iron Age Italy. The association of weaponry and masculinity merges the concepts of legitimate violence, self-assertion, domination, prestige, and male potency. Female attributes, including personal ornaments and the utensils of cloth-work, emphasize feminine sexual desirability and have strong class overtones. Although at root such gender ideologies assist in enlisting individuals into a common hegemonic system of political and economic action, Robb acknowledges that ambiguity and disruption are inherent vulnerabilities in a system in which female sexuality and male potency are central. Such societies can never be simply unilateral, “topdown” systems. Female resistance in the form of “counter-hegemonies” may easily have been expressed in such archaeologically invisible practices and activities as folklore, humor, cuckoldry, and individual autonomy within the domestic or community spheres.« (Source: Claire L. Lyons and Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow. »Naked Truths about Classical Art: An introduction.« Naked Truths: Women, sexuality, and gender in classical art and archaeology. Edited by Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow et al. London 1997: 5)


  Gender Attribution and Archaeological Symbols: A Methodological Note (p. 44)
  The Core Symbols of Gender (p. 45)
    Neolithic (p. 45)
    Eneolithic and Bronze Age (p. 48)
    Iron Age (p. 50)
  Gender within Society: The Iron Age (p. 53)
  Structural Relations between Gender Symbols: The Case for Male Domination (p. 53)
  Necessary Ambiguities: The Case for Multivocal Gender Ideologies (p. 56)
  Practical Valor and Everyday Beauty: The Case for Gender as Class Ideology (p. 57)
  Conclusions (p. 59)
  Notes (p. 60)

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Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of Italy / Prehistoric Italy | Art: Prehistoric art