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“Fashion in the West”: Bodies, Dress and Identities in Apulian Iconography (5th-3rd cent.BC.)

Applicant Dasen Véronique
Number 205426
Funding scheme COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology)
Research institution Institut du monde antique et byzantin Faculté des lettres Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Archaeology
Start/End 01.01.2022 - 31.01.2025
Approved amount 246'666.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Ancient history and Classical studies

Keywords (13)

iconography; dress; Greek and native interactions; gender; non-verbal communication; Apulian red-figure vases; South Italy archaeology; identities; Apulia; multiculturality; selfpresentation; Taranto; textile technologies

Lay Summary (French)

L'artisanat textile et le vêtement participent sont le miroir d’identités sociales, sexuées, ethniques, individuelles et collectives partagées par une communauté. Tant la matérialité que le contexte dans lequel ils sont portés lui confèrent différentes valeurs symboliques, sociales et religieuses.
Lay summary

Ce projet multidisciplinaire considère le vêtement comme un marqueur d'identité et étudie sa dimension culturelle à partir des représentations produites en Apulie entre le Ve et le IIIe siècle avant J.-C. Il interroge les relations dynamiques entre les corps, les vêtements et les identités genrées et multiculturelles dans cette région, caractérisée par la coexistence des Grecs établis à Tarente et des groupes italiques de l’arrière-pays (Messapien, Peucétiens, Dauniens).
Il créera pour ce faire, dans un premier temps, une typo-chronologie des différents éléments vestimentaires caractérisant les identités grecques ou locales à partir des représentations. Dans un second temps, il analysera ces types vestimentaires, destinées à des clients de différents horizons culturels, en contexte iconographique. Les vêtements décrits seront comparés avec les témoignages textiles conservés et les procédés de fabrication connus afin d’interroger leur matérialité. De manière plus diachronique, enfin, ce projet évaluera les processus de perception en jeu, du regard de l’artisan sur son identité et celle de l’autre à celle de l’archéologue sur le passé.
Ainsi, en faisant dialoguer les données iconographiques, archéologiques et les sources écrites, ce projet, qui s'inscrit dans le cadre des recherches innovantes développées par l'action COST "Euroweb. Europe through textiles" (CA #19131), jettera un regard neuf sur les interactions sociales entre ces populations, en explorant leurs influences respectives, à l’aune des avancées des gender studies et de l’archéologie post-coloniale.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 15.12.2021

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Project partner

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
192197 Poupées articulées grecques et romaines (Xe s. av. J.-C./ VIIe s. apr. J.-C.): Approches archéologiques et anthropologiques 01.05.2020 Project funding


Textile craftsmanship and dress provide a privileged access to the social, cultural and economic fabric of past societies. Over the last two decades, the interest in the study of clothing in Antiquity has increased significantly. As Roland Barthes (1957) and several scholars after him demonstrated, dress plays a key role not only in the construction of social, gendered, ethnic, individual, and collective identities, it is also part of non-verbal communication in a shared normative system. Both the materiality (shape, texture, color) and the context in which it is worn (domestic, ritual, civic) are intertwined with various symbolic, social and religious values. This project is part of the innovative researches developed by the working groups (WG) of the COST Action « Euroweb. Europe through textiles » (CA #19131). It considers clothing as an identity marker and investigates this cultural dimension in iconographic representations produced in Apulia between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC, a region characterized by the coexistence of the Greek people established in Taranto with different indigenous populations (Messapians, Peucetians and Daunians).The study will be based on a multidisciplinary approach, gathering archaeological, iconographic and written data in order to analyze the self- and collective representations of gender, age, status and ethnic identities, as well as the social interactions between these populations through the lenses of clothes and body ornaments. The research focuses more specifically on Apulian vase painting produced in Taranto and distributed in South Italy both in Greek and indigenous settlements (ca 430-300 BC). The material is extensive (ca 10,000) and well published. A large number of vases, still under-exploited, are decorated with representations of women and men’s attire displaying interactions between the Greek inhabitants (apoikioi) and indigenous people which are not reduced to violent confrontations as mentioned in Greek literary sources. The visual language of vase painters reveals the peaceful weaving of Greek and Italic identities with varying accents over one hundred years. We will question how far visual conventions reflect socio-cultural changes, such as mixed marriages or trade relationships with neighbouring communities. This investigation of the fabric of gendered and multicultural identities will be divided into three parts. The first one will create a typology of the different visual clothing elements characterising Greek or local identities. These items will be classified according to their type (WG2) (dress, hairdress, hairstyle, shoes, body ornaments), their wearers (women or men, children or adults), as well as compared with depictions on other media (wall paintings, terracotta, reliefs) and with ancient written sources to establish a reference terminology (WG3). The second part will analyse the different types of dress according to social interactions in iconographical contexts where local and Greek people could interact (e.g. daily life, religious scenes, such as libation, marriage, funerals). The methodological limits of such investigations will be addressed, namely how to identify a local person in Greek attire, partners of mixed marriages and so on. We will finally compare the dress depicted in iconography with extant archaeological textile evidence of Apulia (WG4) and experimental archaeology. The third part will revisit the long-lasting devaluation of Italic people in ancient Apulia, often examined solely in relation to Greek culture. Their classification as “non-Greeks” as well as the use of the expression “Magna Grecia” (Strabo 6.1.2) have imposed a misleading appreciation of a culturally complex and evolving area. The study of dress will contribute to developing another view as mixed indigenous and Greek clothing could reflect the appropriation of Greek customs and culture among Italics users as well as the reverse, the influence of Italic people on Greek habits. The research thus aims to be a benchmark re evaluating the extent of cross-cultural exchanges in Apulia (coastal and hinterland) based on most recent post-colonial studies.