Identity or Habitus? Changes in Cypriot Cooking Wares During the Hellenistic-Roman Period – Kristina Winther-Jacobsen (Copenhagen)

Identities are flexible and dynamic social constructs emerging within the context of an individual’s multiple overlapping social relationships and locations. Depending on the context and audience, different identity positions are taken in order for the multiple overlapping social relationships and locations to be successfully negotiated. Habitus is a system of lasting and changeable dispositions developed through practice framing the way the individual agent experiences, thinks and acts as well as synthesising both the position of the agent in social relationships and locations and the mental position of the agent. Identity and habitus are clearly related begging the question in which specific cases these individual concepts contribute to a better understanding of material culture.

The paper explores the introduction of quartz rich cooking fabric in Cyprus during the Hellenistic and Early Roman period, a period of great change in Cyprus when the island’s city-kingdoms were annexed first by Ptolemy I and later by Rome. Mapping the tradition of cooking vessels on the island, the paper investigates how the technological change of introducing quartz rich fabrics affected the types of cooking vessels produced and the repercussions to consumption patterns in Cyprus. Did the Cypriot potters adapt the new technology to their local cooking styles? Did the new technology led to morphological experiments in Cyprus? Did the change of technology also bring about a change of style in cooking? These questions are used to discuss the difference between identity and habitus.

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