Seventeen years ago, Brian Shefton wrote, “the distribution pattern of the Greek imports for the Hallstatt period has crystallized a number of years ago and is unlikely to be greatly modified in the future except on point of detail” (Böhr and Shefton 2000, 28). Indeed, publications describing Greek pottery have reached similar conclusions: Greek vases were rare in west-central Europe compared to the Mediterranean coast; where they did appear, it was as apparently-prestigious grave goods in elite tombs more than as tableware used in banquets; emphasis in consumption centered on vases associated with drinking rather than eating, storage, or household functions; and the presence of transport amphoras was extremely limited if not entirely lacking at many sites.
Discussions of Greek imports like the one above have tended to occur in a vacuum, however (and I am as guilty of this as anyone; e.g., Walsh 2014) – the pottery, in particular, has been published by itself, or together with Greek and Etruscan metal vessels, separate from local production. This phenomenon raises the question: what can we gain by considering imports together with the locally produced items recovered from the same contexts? This paper will explore some examples where sufficient publication allows such re-contextualization, emphasizing how consumers made choices according to their needs and interests when constructing assemblages.