Kelly O'Connor

My name is Kelly O’Connor and I am a senior at UMass Amherst majoring in Classical Archaeology and minoring in Anthropology. I am interested in material culture and the allowance it creates for interpreting, mainly ancient, populations. I am most interested in Etruscan and Classical archaeology, though I have studied American archaeology, biological archaeology, and I have been interning at a local historic society for three years. I am the president of the classical languages honors society Eta Sigma Phi, for the UMass chapter Epsilon Omicron. During my sophomore and junior years I was on the E-board for the Anthropology club. I attended the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies: Rome through Duke University during the Spring 2018 semester. While in attendance I interned at the American Academy in Rome with their archaeological collection under Valentina Follo. I participated as a student in the Poggio Civitate Summer 2018 Field School and have been invited back to be a trench master in training for the Summer 2019 Field School. This fall the UMass Classics Department awarded me the Bulger Award for academic excellence.

The Archaeology of Marriage in Central Pre-Roman Italy

The first chapter of my thesis, The Archaeology of Marriage in Central Pre-Roman Italy, works as an introduction to the idea that populations move through many different modes, including intermarriage. I mainly used the sites of Pithekoussai on Ischia and Veii in Tuscany as case studies. Through the examination of specific materials, mainly Italic-style fibulae and Euboean-style skyphoi as well as other eastern Greek materials, to establish Greek colonial and native Italic population interaction. I addressed the shortcoming of the “trade before the flag” model. The model employs the ideas established during the Imperialist period of Europe that Greek traders has significant trade connections with areas they would come to settle. I point out that the lack of Greek transport vessels and low percentage of Greek artifacts in Etruscan sites suggests against the large-scale trade previously supported and establish marriage between native Italic women and male Greek colonists as a likely vehicle through which these materials moved.

The second chapter of my thesis, which will employ interactive pdfs and deconstructed reconstructions, addresses how marriages of elite Etruscans in a mature socio-political environment are reflected in the archaeological record, and what these reflections tell us about the values the Etruscans found in marriage. I have been researching sarcophagi, architectural decorations, Potnia Theron iconography, and inscriptions in order to explore this question. Many, if not all, of these motifs appear in the funerary practices of the Etruscans, from which most of our knowledge of the Etruscans come. The Etruscans buried their dead in ways that reflected family life and marriage. Etruscan sarcophagi often depict married couples reclining with either overt or subtle references to sex, which allowed for family lines to continue. Moreover, many Etruscan tomb, and early cinerary urns, take the forms of huts or houses. Ancestral cults were vital to living Etruscan aristocrats for the continuation of their socio-political power.

I will also be addressing non funerary contexts, mainly in the architectural decoration of Poggio Civitate and Acquarossa. Both sites used frieze plaques to display different aspects of Etruscan life. Interestingly, the banqueting and procession iconography found at both sites is also reflected in funerary settings. I will argue that the obvious living contexts of Poggio Civitate and Acquarossa means that these scenes could reflect marriage processions and banqueting. As addressed above, the imagery used in funerary contexts is tightly interwoven with scenes of the living.