”Riter vid vattnet” : En studie om religions materialitet vid bronsålderns rituella bassäng från Noceto, Italien
Sammanfattning: The essay is an interdisciplinary work linking History of Religion and Archaeology. The work is based on the study of the finds from a unique archaeological Italian Bronze Age site. The evidence in question has been recently excavated on the outskirts of the modern town of Noceto, Parma province, in northern Italy. It is dated to the end of the local Middle Bronze Age, which corresponds roughly to the 14th century BCE, and belongs to the local so called Terramare culture. The site consist of a large wooden basin, which once stood in a relatively dominant position within a local Bronze Age village. The basin has been always completely filled with water. Thanks to the particular environmental conditions in the pool, organic material of cellulosic nature, such as wood, preserved very well. We therefore have very precise data about the structure itself and about an astonishing number of finds that have been retrieved from the basin. The basin was apparently used for a limited period of time, which has been estimated of a few generations or a maximum of 100 years. It was apparently used as a sort of “offer place” and hundreds of finds have been sunk in its water. Although depositions in wet areas are very common all over Europe and the Mediterranean throughout the Bronze Age, no other built structures such as the Noceto’s basin are known so far. Noceto provides strong indications of religious nature, since no productive activities or every day practices could be detected in connection to it. With an eye to the debate on the materiality of religion, the aim of the essays is in the first place to investigate and discuss how the religious nature of the place can be understood, when working solely on the results of the religious activities that once have taken place around its margins. Secondly, the aim is also to attempt using the evidence from Noceto to discuss more broadly issues of Bronze Age religion. The analysis of the material is carried out considering deposition rituals from the point of view of performance and agency theories. It is argued that the finds from the pool acted as indexes of agency and were part of performative event that linked together the people carrying out and/or watching the ritual, the place and the divine expressed by the place. Considering that the significance of ritual performance has been seen, among other things, in the transformative power that is contextually assigned to rituals, it is believed that the finds from Noceto’s basin likely embodied an attempt to establish or secure positive transformations possibly in people life and in fundamental productive activities such as for instance agriculture. The sacred role of water during the Bronze Age has been addressed by several scholars, but it is generally connected to the ritual “usage” of particular places such as wetlands, caves, rivers and so on. Noceto’s basin provides the possibility for the first time to analyse an attempt to artificially and magnificently bring the sacred into a settlement area and thus possibly create the premises for more controlled or regular/regulated religious activities.
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