The Etruscan pithos revolution

Perkins, Phil (2021). The Etruscan pithos revolution. In: Gleba, Margarita; Marín-Aguilera, Beatriz and Dimova, Bela eds. Making cities: Economies of production and urbanization in Mediterranean Europe, 1000–500 BC. McDonald Institute Conversations. Cambridge, UK: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, pp. 231–258.



This chapter presents a study of pithoi – large Etruscan ceramic vessels for the storage and processing of agricultural produce in Italy in the first millennium BC. A new regional typology is presented along with their distribution in Etruria. The economic life cycle of pithoi is then analysed from their production to their multiple uses and agency to their disposal. Once these have been assessed, the broader economic impact of the adoption of pithoi in the Etruscan economy and society is reconstructed leading to the conclusions that they contributed to economic development and increased social inequality between the seventh and the fifth centuries BC. Pithoi are then considered as providing evidence for economic growth in the context of the urban development of Etruria.

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