Friday, March 24, 2006

Case Studies in Indigenous Developments in Early Italian Centralization and Urbanization, a Dutch Perspective


The first study concerns the colonisation of the Sibaritide, the modern name for the wide coastal plain around Sybaris and its hilly hinterland, situated on Italy?s east coast, below the heel. In this project of the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA) the indigenous colonisation, occurring in the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age, is compared with the Greek colonisation, best known from the colonies of Sybaris and Thurioi. The Greek foundation in circa 700 BC of the central colony city of Sybaris, in a difficult to defend, flat coastal area amidst a number of regularly spaced Enotrian (the indigenous people of present day Calabria is usually referred to as the Enotrians) hilltop villages evokes questions as to the connections between Greeks and the Enotrians. The general aim of the project is to recuperate the non-dominant archaeological history of the native societies from the dominant archaeology of the Greeks. The colonisation processes are studied by means of the GIA excavation of a protohistoric, Enotrian, settlement at present-day Francavilla Marittima (since 1990) as well as from the documentation of the excavations and surveys by prof. Renato Peroni and his group of two Enotrian hilltop sites, Broglio di Trebisacce in the northern and Torre Mordillo in the southern Sibaritide, dating from the seventeenth till the eighth century BC. The databases drawn from the excavations are supplemented by field surveys, environmental and technological research. The three sites presently under excavation in the Sibaritide all seem to demonstrate a different model of contact with Greek traders and settlers: Torre Mordillo shows destruction in the transitional period from the Bronze to the Iron Age; the site at Broglio di Trebisacce, after it had flourished in the Late Bronze Age and even had produced local- Mycenaean pottery, was unoccupied after the foundation of Sybaris, while the cult place and the settlement on the Timpone della Motta at Francavilla Marittima are continuous. This state of the archaeology in the Sibaritide warrants further research into the Late Bronze Age 'Mycenaean' experience and its influence on native leadership, as well as into the formative period of the flourishing Enotrian Iron Age villages in the Sibaritide and their rapport with the Greeks. One of the big questions is to what extent the Sibaritide coastal plain may be considered a (remote) part of the ?Mycenaean? urbanized landscape. If it can be proved that ?Mycenaean? arboriculture, redistribution and technology remained intact after the fall of the Bronze Age palace burocracies the rapid rise of the Enotrian villages would be explained. Detailed archaeological research of the site at Francavilla Marittima, at a distance of 18 km from Greek Sybaris, should be able to answer a number of questions on the 'Mycenaean', Enotrian and Greek periods, because the site demonstrates the continuous presence of a large population till circa the middle of the fifth century BC. The GIA research furthermore especially concentrates on the creation of gender and ethnic identities in relation to technology, burial and cult as well as to power relations.
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