Cups and cultures

I found the presence of various traded items in households to be quite interesting and revelatory about the cultural fluctuations in Lattes.

The aesthetic of a home affects the lives of its inhabitants. This is a bit of an obvious, and therefore potentially frequently overlooked, truth. The décor of a household affects how you act in, how guests act in it, how you think about what “home” is exactly. I argue that the aesthetic state of a home imprints upon those living there. Nature, nurture, and décor may not be equal in the developmental process, but I think they each matter. If the relational atmosphere matters in regards to behavior, the physical atmosphere must as well. The space you live – the walls and floors that become customary to your eyes – may matter more to your identity than you might think.

Working with this hypothesis, the booming commercial trading at Lattes would affect more than just the industry and development of the society at the time. For the decorative and practical imports from around the Mediterranean used in a house in Lattes may mean more than convenience. Perhaps a family pouring wine from a Greek amphores would behave a bit more Greek in some ways.

Further practical examples to support this point: compare a meal where soda cans accompany the food. Paper cups. Plastic cups. Glasses. Crystal. China. Compare drinking from a mug to drinking from a flute. Compare using a straw from a plastic cup to just the plastic cup itself. These little differences affect the behavior of those present. It goes beyond a matter of simple formality. The tools of the meal set the tone. And the tone dictates the mood, and the mood the behavior. And by altered behavior society changes.

Furthermore the cuisine of a meal has a similar effect. So the imported olive oil, fish paste, and wine may have been more than just commodities. Perhaps the food itself subtly altered the inhabitants of Lattes’s lifestyle. The presence of foreigners does not singlehandedly change the culture of a society. Their decorations, utensils, vessels, practices, and foods work their way into the everyday of the inhabitants and alter the culture gradually from the inside. However, this isn’t to say that one culture absorbed the other. One of the most striking features of this cultural dialogue that I found in our readings was the fact that black-glazed cups in Italy were made to be similar to the indigenous cups. This to me is a wonderful symbol of the cultural change. A local drinks from his cup, made in the Italian fashion, but in the shape he has always known.

 

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One Response to Cups and cultures

  1. Pingback: Ignorance and hand-writing | Just Another Job

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