Crossing Borders: Musical Change & Exchange through Time

Publications of the ICTM Study Group on Music Archaeology, Vol. 2

Picenian Pendants as Possible Sound-Tools: Towards a Pre-Roman Italic Soundscapey

Mirco Mungari

Metal pendants, equipped with small chains, rings and other suspended pieces, are typical of the Picenian culture, which flourished in central Italy during the early Iron Age.
Picenians belonged to a group of Italic pre-Roman populations dwelling on the coasts of the Adriatic Sea, in approximately the same geographical region later named Picenum by the Romans. Their material culture is quite well known through the examination of a number of significant burial sites containing grave goods, which show a great diffusion and specialization of metallurgy and evidence of the manufacturing of weapons, armors and metallic ornaments, in particular fibulae and pendants.

This article is focused on the analysis of a number of Picenian pendants, and aims to provide an interpretation of these artifacts as sound-tools, probably not directly intended primarily for sound production, but certainly built with the secondary purpose of giving a characteristic sound when worn and shaken. A reasoned comparison with other similar artifacts from other cultures, such as several Iron Age cultures of the Adriatic region and Italic peninsula, suggests some clues concerning the real sound potential of these objects and their meaning as part of a broader cultural context.

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