Etruscan and Latin networks
: a semiotic exploration of interconnectivity

  • Mikel Wein

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


The Iron Age saw increasing intra- and inter-regional connectivity, social hierarchy, and economic production of settlements in southern Etruria and Latium. Some settlements, such as Rome, prospered, while others did not. This research combined archaeological semiotics with spatial network analysis to explore exchange of fibulae and impasto cups among Rome and nine neighbour sites, from Tarquinia east to Narce and south to Satricum. It demonstrated how interactions between a site’s geographic location and mobility of goods led to differing levels of prominence and control of fibula and cup designs in the region. Fibula exchange shifted from a widespread network of enlarged arch and serpentine arch fibulae to a network of boat, leech bow, and dragon fibulae traded among smaller groups of sites. Concurrently, prominent sites shifted from coastal sites Tarquinia and Caere (Pyrgi) to inland sites, including Veii and Rome. Cup networks reached all sites but were centred on geographically close neighbours Gabii (Osteria dell’Osa), Rome, and Veii. Trends in cup shapes and decoration suggested building importance of Rome over the Iron Age, along with continuing or lessening importance of Veii and Gabii (Osteria dell’Osa). Although there was low correlation between travel costs or distance among sites and fibula or cup exchange, sites farthest from central sites Rome, Gabii (Osteria dell’Osa), and Veii tended to have lower participation in the networks. Over all networks, design specialization appears to have been less successful than generalization for sustained growth. As travel routes shifted over time, sites that specialized due to favourable location for imports (Caere), resources (Tarquinia), or reproduction and distribution (Veii) had momentary importance in exchange of materials. Rome’s sustained growth and importance can be attributed to location along trading routes and a generalist strategy of accumulating fibula and cup designs.
Date of Award10 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorRebecca Jane Sweetman (Supervisor) & Carlos Augusto Ribeiro Machado (Supervisor)


  • Rome
  • Network analysis
  • Etruria
  • Semiotics
  • Landscape archaeology
  • Central Italy
  • Latium
  • Iron Age Italy
  • Pre-Roman Italy
  • Settlement dynamics

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 13 December 2025

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