My thesis offers a humanistic and experiential re-interpretation of the relationship between people, landscape and the gods in Iron Age and Romanisation Northeast Italy (from the 8th century BC to the 2nd centuries BC included). In it I search for, and explore a 'Venetic sense of place' by appraising the significance of cult practices within a complex network of social groups known as the 'Veneti'. After identifying the shortcomings of current research on Iron Age Veneto - and pre-Roman Italy as a whole -, which is largely typological and sit-based with little attention to the landscape context and materiality of meaningful places, I adopted an approach that questions previous landscape and artefact interpretations and challenges monument-biased assumptions. I argue for a thicker and more comprehensive outlook on ancient places, be it 'natural' landscapes or humanly made structures and features. My chief aim is that of investigating and bringing to the fore the complex dynamics of landscape dwelling, navigation, place selection and worship: to do so I endeavoured to produce a rigorous and systematic study of how people used landscape and how they related to the meaningful objects they deposited at selected locales. My original approach includes landscape reconnaissance, a site log, interpretive fieldwork, archival research, ground photography, 'experiential maps', the application of phenomenology to place assessment and material culture/artefact appraisal, and the use of GlS. I have created a methodology that allows fieldwork to be repeated as it is rigorously documented, and offers an approach to place and material culture that could be used to assess other types of landscapes, and could be applied to prehistoric, protohistoric and historic case studies. Whenever possible I have also sought to integrate ethnological data into my assessment of place, seeking to complement and integrate my knowledge of past cult and ritual in various parts of the Veneto with insights potentially afforded by legends and myths. I used this mixed approach as I believe that landscape perception, use, material culture and local place names and folklore can shed light on how people experienced landscapes and interacted with them. I found that Venetic peoples seemed to be very aware of their land and surroundings when seeking out suitable or significant places for special activities such as burials and cult practices, and certain particularly striking landforms had a very enduring and marked significance, and a deep impact on people through time (i.e. hills)
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