Wednesday, 10. April 2019, 17:30

The Early Bronze Age in southeastern Sicily

New data from Castelluccio (Noto, Siracusa)

Anita Crispino (Museo archeologico regionale Paolo Orsi, Siracusa)

In Sicily the Early Bronze Age, from 2150/2100 BC to approximately 1700/1650 B.C., is a period characterised by a long-lasting regional archaeological facies identified with the pottery assemblage found in Castelluccio (Noto, Siracusa) in southeastern Sicily.

The material culture found at the eponymous site during the excavations carried out by Paolo Orsi in the late 19th century has become the basis for the interpretation of the longest and most complicated lapse of time in the prehistory of Sicily, when there were intense contacts with the eastern Mediterranean, as is proven by a whole series of incised bone plaques (“ossi a globuli”) found in southeastern Sicily as well as in Greece (Lerna) and at Troy. The site of Castelluccio has the highest quantity of this enigmatic artefact type known from a single site. In addition, Castelluccio yielded pottery of Cetina type linking Sicily to the eastern Adriatic and western Greece.

Orsi explored one of the largest cemeteries of this culture, in which some of the tombs are monumentalised by architectonic facades and exceptional stone slabs with symbolic reliefs. The next exploration carried out by Giuseppe Voza in 1992 lead to the discovery of the settlement itself. Here 12 huts were identified; the largest one was the hut no. 8 (18 m in length), which was visibly different from the others. Recently, multidisciplinary research has made possible to collect a new series of 14C-dates and a large amount of new palaeoenvironmental data.

A pithos storage inside Hut 8 demonstrates the earliest adoption in the central Mediterranean of a storage system that used pithoi. The first organic residue analyses suggests that these vessels were indeed used for oil storage. This is further supported by the latest anthracological results indicating a very high percentage of olive wood. These archaeobotanic and archaeozoological results add the necessary records to analyse the subsistence economy of the Castelluccio inhabitants. Furthermore, the analysis of the earthen building remains contribute to a fuller understanding of Castellucian architecture. This paper will examine the latest obtained data.