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VIRTUAL - Bigger fish to fry: Fishing and fish consumption in Archaic Greek Sicily

September 23, 2021 @ 6:00 pm CDT Central Time

This is an online event.

AIA Society: Nashville

Lecturer: Davide Tanasi

Fish and fish products are an important nutritive source for humans, rich in proteins, fats and fat-soluble vitamins and they were largely celebrated and discussed in various genres of Greek literatures. From the comedies of Epicharmus, in the late 6th century BCE, to the Life of Luxury of Archestratus of Gelas (330 BCE ca.), fish seems to a assume a central role in the cuisine of Greek Sicily, with Syracuse in particular emerging as a food mecca. The rich mass of data on fish cooking and consumption documented for Greek Sicily and specifically for Syracuse finds a controversial counterpart in the material culture. Whereas the artistic representations of the world of fishing and fish mongering are rather numerous, the scanty archaeological evidence of fishing gear opposes them. In order to shed light on the problem of fish consumption in Greek Sicily and to define the role of fish in the diet of the local communities, this presentation will focus on the new data emerging from stable isotopes analysis on skeletal remains from the necropoleis of Himera and Syracuse. The two sites represent a formidable couple of case studies especially for the Archaic period. New evidence from the Greek cemeteries of Viale Scala Greca and Viale Santa Panagia at Siracusa will be discussed, in order to highlight possible connections between the apparent wealth of burials with large funerary assemblage and architectural peculiarities and the dietary habits of the inhumated individuals. The study conducted by University of South Florida, will compare certain dietary regimens, supplemented or not with fish and shellfish, with certain social status exemplified by the funerary context. The comparison with the evidence from Himera will allow for a critical revision of the literary sources and reinterpretation of the archaeological record so to establish what was the role of fish at the table of the Greeks of Sicily.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

D. Tanasi, R. Lanteri, S. Hassam 2016, New data on the funerary religion of the Greeks of Sicily. The Archaic necropolis of Viale Scala Greca at Siracusa, in H. Reid, D. Tanasi (eds), Philosopher Kings and Tragic Heroes. Essays on the Images and Ideas from Western Greece, Sioux City: Parnassos Press, pp. 329-352.

D. Tanasi, R. H. Tykot, A. Vianello, S. Hassam 2017, Stable isotope analysis of the dietary habits of a Greek community in Archaic Syracuse (Sicily): a pilot study, STAR: Science & Technology of Archaeological Research 3.2, pp. 466-477.

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September 23, 2021
6:00 pm CDT
Event Categories:


Mireille Lee


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