Political economy

The port town of Lattara exhibits a unique system of culture, one that seems to be structured around political economy. This is very different from its influencing cities from the Atlantic seaboard and the Celtic British Isles, as well as Italy, Greece and other Mediterranean cultures. While all of these influential cultures surrounding Lattara seem to be motivated more by socio-political or religious factors than economy, Lattara prefigures the rich blending of cultures that will later develop into Provence, in the south of France.

In the earliest days of Lattara, in the sixth century BCE and earlier, the possible settlers, the Etruscans (having been run out of Italy by the Romans?) occupied the town. Etruscan culture was prominent: Etruscan pottery with Etruscan script and Etruscan building styles in homes were all present at the earliest homes which were destroyed by a fire in c. 475 BCE. Following this “Etruscan” era, the Lattes turned to Marseilles and other Greek-influenced port-cities in the south of France for their goods, importing Massalian pottery and wine, as well as other goods. Following this influx of Massalian imports, the Lattes adopted a number of Greek Mediterranean cultural influences, such as the Greek script for monogramming pottery and Greek tools and table utensils. While Mediterranean influence from Greece through Marseilles held sway for a number of centuries, Italian influence took a strong hold in Lattara by the second century BCE with Italian ceramics, wines and other goods.

However, prior to its Romanization at the beginning of the empire in 50 CE, Lattara never seems to have strongly identified itself as an Etruscan, Greek or Italian settlement. While there is evidence of cultural influence from each of these Mediterranean cultures at various times, the influence seems to be mostly restricted to commerce. While the Lattes worked with Etruscan script, Greek script and later some Latin, there does not appear to be any indigenous use of writing or texts in Lattara. At the same time, while it seems that there was some sort of religious influence from the Mediterranean in the form of Priapus and Hermes, there is no strong presence of any one particular religious practice. At the same time, Lattaran culture seems to have made a significant divergence from northern or Mediterranean burial practice: dead bodies of animals and humans were placed in the floor structures. Whatever was the idea here, it is doubtful that they were thinking of “building on the shoulders of giants” except in a literal sense. The Lattes seem to have a strange indifference towards the immortal life of the soul, an indifference towards the transcendentals. In a culture almost completely dedicated to commercial welfare, the Lattes seem to have been aloof from major religious or political commitments. They were rather a culture driven by political economy.

CS

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