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Despite its relatively limited extent, Italy is characterized by a considerable degree of diver-
sity, and structurally the country can be divided into distinct regions. Peninsular Italy covers
the whole land mass south of the Po plain (Fig. 35.1). Significant features include its central
position ir{the Mediterranean and the extent of its coastline (8ooo km), which make it a
privileged destination for Mediterranean seafarers.
The main morphological component of the peninsula is the Apennine range, running Ion-
gitudinally along its centre. This has been a limiting factor in the availability of settlement and
agricultural space; moreover, it constituted a barrier between the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian
sides. However, during the Bronze Age the Apennine passes were the medium for communi-
cation between them. Another inter-regional factor is the level morphology of the Adriatic
coast, providing a route linking the peninsula to the north -east. The south Adriatic and east
Ionian coasts are characterized by small peninsulas (Fig. 35.2), intensively settled from the late
third-early second millennium Be. In this period coastal trade involved the peninsula along
with Sicily and the small Tyrrhenian islands. The main deep metal ores are in the Alpine area
and in Etruria (now divided into Tuscany and northern Lazio). Besides copper and iron, tin
ores are a strategic resource in this region. Based on indirect evidence, it ~s also probable that
the copper ores of Calabria were exploited from the time of the Final Bronze Age.
Italy's regional divisions, formalized by Emperor Augustus, constitute the foundation of
the present system. From north-west to south-east, a comparatively wide natural region is
Etruria, the only area of Italy where the Apennine range bends toward the Adriatic coast.
Low hills and plains, with good agricultural soils, characterize this territory, which is also
crossed by a network of minor rivers that provide a system of natural routes. Ancient Lazio
(Latium vetus, between the Tiber and mount Circeo, and Latium adiectum, from the Circeo
to the Garigliano) is a small region with a wide coastal plain, edged by the volcanic core of
the Alban Hills, and the calcareous range of the Pre-Apennine mountains. Marche (ancient
Picenum) is a narrow mountainous region, divided into three zones: the Apennine, joining
Umbria to the west, the hilly zone, and the coastal plain. A specific feature of this area is a
system of parallel river valleys. The central interior (including the coastal sections of Abruzzo

FIG. 35.1 !vfap of Italy showing sites mentioned in the text. The list includes the most important
sites and those which are described in some detail. Drawing: Joanne Pore, Leiden University. 1.
Frattesina, 2. Bologna, 3 Monte Castellaccio di Imola, 4. Calbana, 5 Verucchio, 6. Moscosi di
Cingoli, 7. Pianello di Genga, 8. Matelica, 9: Chiusi, 10 and n. Monte Cetona: Belverde cave and
Casa Carletti, 12. Scarceta, 13. Permo, 14. Bisenzio, 15. Vulci, 16. Tarquinia, 17. Caere, 18. Veii, 19.
Luni sul Mignone, 20. Sorgenti della Nova, 21. Poggio La Pozza, 22. Coste del Marano, 23.
Grotta Misa, 24. Roma, 25. Osteria dell'Osa (Roma) 26. Pratica di Mare (Lavinium), 27. Ardea,
28. Fucino, 29. Celano, 30. Cures, 31. Capua, 32. Carinaro, 33 Vivara, 34. Ischia, 35 Nola, 36.
Sant'Abbondio, 37 Pontecagnano, 38. Poggiomarino, 39 Cairano, 40. Oliveto, 41. la Starza, 42.
Sala ConsiliJ!a, 43. Toppo Daguzzo, 44 Lavello, 45. Grotta Manaccora, 46. Monte Saraceno, 47
Coppa Nevigata, 48. Trinitapoli, 49 Madonna di Ripalta, so. Laterza, 51. Canosa, 52. Punta Le
Terrare, 53. Scoglio del Tonno, 54. Torre Castelluccia, 55. Taranto, 56. Capo Piccolo, 57 Roca
Vecchia, 58. Surbo, 59 Timmari, 6o. Incoronata- San Teodoro, 61. Francavilla, 62. Amendolara,
63. Torre Mordillo, 64. Broglio, 65. Castellace, 66. Torre Galli.
Map: Joanna Pore, Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University.

and Molise) is marked by the highest Apennine mountains, alternating with confined inland
plains and important river valleys. Ca1npania is a wide territory, consisting of coastal plains
separated by mountains, and accessible from the sea, from the north (the Sacco-Liri-
Garigliano Valley), and from the interior (the Sele Valley). The volcanic system (Vesuvio-
Campi Flegrei) provides rich agricultural soils. Except for the plain of Sybaris, Calabria is a
mountainous area, continuing into the Ionian coastal plain of Basilicata and Apulia. Finally,
Apulia is a wide region, characterized by a uniformly level morphology, except for the north-
ern end (Monte Gargano), and the moderately high central section. Its position between two
seas, at the end of the Adriatic corridor, was a decisive factorJor the region's involvement in
sea voyages from the eastern Mediterranean.
Throughout the Bronze Age the south Adriatic sea level was considerably lower than it is
today. A climatic trend in peninsular Italy is an arid phase during the first half of the second
millennium BC. Substantial data survive relative to natural catastrophes. The Vesuvian erup-
tion of the Avellino pumices, c.nineteenth-eighteenth century cal BC, resulted in the aban-
donment of a wide area for several centuries. The natural factor that triggered the crisis of
the Terramare settlements in the Po plain about 1200 BC was a steady lowering of the water
table (Bernabo Brea and Cremaschi 2009).
The Bronze Age subsistence was based on cereals (wheats: Triticum monococcum, dicoc-
cum, and aestivum-compactum-durum; barleys: Hordeum distichum and haesasticum); leg-
umes (bean and chick-pea: Faba minor, Lathyrus cicera/sativus); fruits including acorns, figs,
walnuts, hazelnuts, and wild berries. A steady trend towards olive and grape cultivation
appears from the early second millennium Be.

FIG. 35.2 The peninsula ofRo~a Vecchia (Melendugno, Leece), on the southern Adriatic coast.
This is one of the main coastal sites in southern Italy, ranging from the Bronze Age to the Early
Iron Age.
Photo: Laboratorio di Topografia Antica e Fotogramrnetria, Universita del Salento.

The three domestic animal species are present in different proportions, with a gradual
increase of ovicaprines. Bovines were used mainly for secondary products and for traction.
Horses are rare; donkeys appear in the Late Bronze Age.


The absolute chronology depends on the redefinition of the Italian Bronze and Early Iron Age
chronology, based on calibrated radiocarbon dates from a number of contexts. However, many
specialists would prefer to use the traditional chronology (Early Iron Age, C.900-730/720 Be),
based on the reconstruction ofThucydides's dates for the earliest foundations of Greek colonies.
According to the relative chronology also in use, Bronze Age periods should coincide with dis-
tinctive archaeological cultures (Italian facies). The correspondence is far from precise. The main
problems are the poor definition of the earliest part of the Early Bronze Age (c.22oo-2ooo cal BC)
and the high absolute chronology (early second millennium BC) for the appearance of those
archaeological aspects that should correspond to the initial Middle Bronze Age (c.1700-1500 BC).

Early Bronze Age and the So-Called Initial Middle

Bronze Age (c.2200-1500 Be)
In central Italy Early Bronze Age complexes are identified from pottery features reminiscent
of the Bell Beaker style, and similarities to the Polada repertoire.
The settlements include open-air sites-Tre Erici (Luni sul Mignone, Viterbo ), Querciola
and Lastruccia (Florence)-along with rock shelters and caves (e.g. Ro11lita di Asciano,
Fontino ), that were used as dwelling places .and for collective burial and cult practices: .
Pastoralism played an important role, along with breeding (cattle and pigs), agriculture, and
hunting. The Copper Age Laterza facies continued throughout the final centuries of the third
millennium BC in southern Italy, and up to southern Lazio.
The Palma Campania facies is documented in central and northern Campania. Its pottery
comprises vessels on a high stand, 'hemispherical cups, bowls, and jars. Several Palma
Campania villages were completely buried by a disastrous eruption ofVesuvius (the ~vellino
pumices'). The combined value of three radiocarbon dates on the bones of animals killed in
the eruption is 3550 12 BP, or 1920-1880 cal BC ( 68.2 per cent probability), 1950-1879 cal Be
(89.7 per cent probability) (Nava et al. 2007).
Important information has been retrieved with the excavation (c.1,400 m 2 ) of the village at
Croce del Papa (Albore Livadie and Vecchio 2005). Light fences divided the exposed area.
Crossing of the settlement by animals and shepherds is indicated by human and animal foot-
prints. Three elongated houses with apsidal end were built dose together on the northern
side; other features include wells, a small pond, and a cage with 13 pregnant sheep. The prox-
imity of the three houses might indicate that the village space was divided among different
kin-groups. Although locally the eruption produced a marked depopulation, there is evi-
dence of continuity of the Palma Campania culture in adjacent areas. t-
An inhumation cemetery, probably dating from the final phase, has been excavated at S.
Abbondio (Pompeii). The most notable burial, an adult man, was accompanied by an axe,
three daggers, and a vessel decorated with a representation of daggers in relief.

'D1e Pre-Apennine and Proto-Apennine Facies

Two sin1ilar aspects characterize the first half of the second millennium BC in central Italy:
the Pre-Apennine facies, with specific elements in southern Etruria (Grotta Nuova), Tuscany
(Candalla), and Emilia Romagna (Farneto). In southern Italy the Proto-Apennine is found in
numerous settlements along the Adriatic and Ionian coasts. The high chronology for the
beginnings of the Pre- and Proto-Apennine indicates that at the time of the earliest system-
atic sailings from the Aegean (seventeenth-sixteenth century Be) the south Italian coasts
had been intensively settled for some centuries.
Pre-Apennine pottery includes carinated or rounded cups and bowls, biconical or ovoid
jugs, ovoid jars, apd truncated-conical bowls. Natural caves were used for both settlement
and collective burial. Open-air villages are known along the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian coasts,
and in connection with lakes (Mezzano, Bracciano, Baccano and Albano in Lazio, Velino
between Umbria and Lazio). Grotta Nuova pottery also comes from the earliest settlement
layers on the Capitoline Hill in Rome.
The best-known settlement is Monte Castellaccio, Romagna. The dwelling structures are
small circular huts. The evidence includes spinning and weaving, clay weights, metallurgy,
and the processing of antler, bone, and flint. The subsistence was based on cereals and leg-
umes; the faunal sample includes the three domestic species plus horse, dog, possibly
chicken, along with game. Radiocarbon dates indicate occupation around 3300 BP (1690-
1490 cal BC at 95-4 per cent probability).
The funerary ritual was inhumation in natural caves, often associated with cult practices
(e.g. Monte Cetona and Belverde, between Umbria and Tuscany). Subterranean multiple
chamber tombs, e.g. Prato di Frabulino in southern Etruria, are considered exclusive to elite
kin -groups. Seaborne activities are indicated by island and coastal settlements. Capo
Graziano sherds from the Aeolian islands have been found at Luni-Tre Erici (Viterbo); a
dagger of Italian type comes from a tomb of the north-western Balkan Cetina facies.
The exploitation of the deep copper ores of Liguria, Tuscany, and southern Etruria begins
in the Copper Age (Giardino 1995: 109-33; Maggi and Pearce 2005), and intensifies in the
Early Bronze Age, as documented by several bronze hoards (Carancini and Peroni 1999:
9-11, tav. 2). The artefacts (axes, daggers, bun ingots) are usually whole. The distribution was
probably carried out by metallurgists and craftsmen. The emergence of local workshops in
the Early and IVIiddle Bronze Age is indicated by the distribution of specific types.
Along the Adriatic and east Ionian coasts, Proto-Apennine settlements occupy small
peninsulas, usually separated from the interior by a stone wall: a classic example is Roca
Vecchia on the southern Adriatic coast (see Fig. 35.2). The average interval between sites is
20-40 km on the Adriatic and 3-5 km on the Ionian coast. On the west Ionian coast of
Basilicata and Calabria, promontories are rare (e.g. Capo Piccolo), and some sites (e.g. Torre
Mordillo) occupy low isolated plateaux (Trucco and Vagnetti 2001).
Tnroughout the second millennium the settlement system did not change significantly. The
earliest imported Mycenaean (LH) I-II pottery occurs in the late Proto-Apennine layers of
some Apulian coastal sites (Manaccora, Molin ella, Punta Le Terrare, Santa Sabina, Giovinazzo).
In the southern Tyrrhenian area maritime contacts concentrate in the Aeolian and Flegrean
archipelagos, especially the settlements ofVivara (Cazzella and Moscoloni 1999). The earliest
phase at Punta Mezzogiorno is documented by Palma Campania and Proto-Apennine pottery.
An apsidal hut is associated with late Proto-Apennine and LH I-II pottery, and metallurgical
activity. At Punta dA.laca the association includes late Proto-Apennine and LH II and IIIA1
pottery. Interior Proto-Apennine sites include a few settlements in control of natural routes:

Madonna di Rip alta (Foggia), in the Ofanto Valley (Tunzi Sisto 1999 ), Tufariello, and La Starza.
The settlement in Abruzzo concentrates around Lake Fucino. Rock shelters and caves were
frequented for cult practices (Grotta Pertosa, Campania), permanent settlement (Grotta della
Madonna and Grotta Cardini, Praia a Mare), and seasonal activities.
Inhun1ation and multiple or collective burial (from one to over two hundred) are the main
features of the Proto-Apennine funerary practices in Apulia and Basilicata (Tunzi Sisto 1999;
Cipolloni Sampo 1986). The burial complexes include caves (Grotta Manaccora), artificial
caves (S. Vito dei Normanni, Crispiano), and underground chamber tombs (Trinitapoli,
Terra di Corte, Toppo Daguzzo tomb 3, and Lavello tomb 743). Both natural caves and cham-
ber tombs were initially used for the performance of cult practices. These tombs are seen as
the correlates of the individual kin -groups of the local segmentary communities. The overall
picture is one of relatively sn1all communities, each comprising a few formally peer lineages.
Around 1500 BC either all or some of the burials in these tombs were characterized by grave
goods clearly hinting at a superordinate status: swords, daggers, arrowheads for the men, a
variety of ornaments for the women; two small ivory figurines from one of the tombs in the
Trinitapoli group. The evidence probably refers to those kin-groups that either had \Yon, or
were struggling to win, an elite status. The competition among the communities' component
units might produce either a precarious balance or the exclusive, but structurally temporary,
concentration of political control in the hands of one of them.
In the central section of Apulia (Bari) the tombs are megalithic rooms preceded by a long corri-
dor and covered by a barrow. In the Salento Peninsula (Leece) the funerary structures are mega-
lithic chambers or cists (Fig. 35.3) covered by large barrows (specchie). The number ofburials varies
from one to ten. Burials in artificial caves are known from Santa Domenica di Ricadi, Calabria.
The evidence for metallurgical activity is relatively consistent (e.g. Vivara, Grotta Assergi
in Abruzzo, Capo Piccolo in Calabria). This indicates a process of stabilization of metallurgi-
cal production, which until the end of the Middle Bronze Age was not an important struc-
tural component of the local economies. The pieces known are mainly axes. Metal artefacts
from Proto-Apennine contexts are rare, and instead they feature in the transition to the final
phase of the Middle Bronze Age. Their typological features indicate a wide range of inter-
regional connections: swords of Pertosa type are specific to southern Italy and close to
Sicilian types. Swords of Sacile type, arrowheads, dagg.ers, razors, and pins derive from north
Italian models. The intensity of trans-Adriatic contacts is exemplified by the widespread
presence of bronzes in Apulian contexts, with parallels in Montenegro, Bosnia, and Albania.
This evidence concentrates in northern Apulia, where Mycenaean pottery is almost absent
from the indigenous contexts. This might indicate an autonomous role of the local commu-
nities in the exchange system activated by the sea voyages from the eastern Mediterranean.
Some evidence of the production of purple dye has been found at Coppa Nevigata.

Final Phase of the Middle Bronze Age

This phase is characterized by the Apennine facies and dated c.1500-1350 Be. Recent dates
from Roca, where seven people were suffocated in the fire which destroyed the fortifica-
tion wall (Fig. 35-4), give a calibrated date range 1431-1399 BC (68.2 per cent probability),
1448-1379 BC (91.9 per cent). The Apennine facies is documented over the entire p~nin
sula, with direct continuity from the Pre- and Proto-Apennine aspects. The pottery
includes bowls, carinated and rounded cups, ovoid and biconical jars, with incised and
engraved decoration.

FIG. 353 A Bronze Age megalithic tomb from Specchia Artanisi (Ugento, Leece). A. the
megalithic structure, a small rectangul~r room framed by slabs of local calcareous rock. B.
the remains of the skeleton (a child), and two impasto vessels of Protoapennine type. The
C date from the bones ranges between 1980 and 1740 cal BC.
Photos: Laboratorio di Topografi.a Antica e Fotogrammetria, Universita del Salento.

Coastal sites continue, as do the settlements in the Flegrean archipelago. In the Apennine
area, there is an increase of lake settlements, for example around the Fucino and the Velino.
Cave sites and shelters were still used in the Apennine regions, as well as in the coastal
Tyrrhenian area. At Punta Le Terrare, on the Adriatic coast, there are circular huts with pot-
sherd pavements, and horizontal pottery kilns, and at Madonna di Ripalta an apsidal hut
around 7 m long. Ovens and hearths have been identified at Coppa Nevigata; at Ripalta a
large oval kiln was used for both pottery firing and cooking, and metallurgical activity is also

FIG. 35.4 Roca Vecchia, Middle Bronze Age (Apennine) phase. Corridor in the fortification
wall of the settlement. The stone walls are reinforced by wooden poles. Seven individuals (two
adults, an adolescent, three children and an infant) took refuge in this space, probably during
a siege, and died of suffocation from the fire which destroyed the structure. The group was
acco1:11panied by numerous impasto vessels, and some personal items.
Drawing: T. Scar~no.

On the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria, the scarcity of Apennine settlements is combined

with some sites characterized by the Sicilian-Aeolian Thapsos-Milazzese facies. This might
indicate the deterioration of the local system of coastal trading, and the occupation of mar-
ginal areas of the peninsula by inhabitants from the Aeolian islands.
Overall the intensification of the Aegean presence is documented by the association of local
impasto and imported LH IliA and IIIB1 pottery; along the south Adriatic coast of Apulia, and
also on the Ionian coast of Apulia, Basilicata, and Calabria. Apparently the indigenous-Aegean
relationship in mainland Italy was not a colonization, nor did it depend on formalized political
agreements. Rather, the Aegean sailors adjusted themselves to the local pattern of small auton-
omous polities. Tne general strategy was the integration of small groups of Aegean provenance
within the individual communities, in order to participate in the local system of both trade and
manufacture of metals, and amber. Two important sites, apparently differing from this pattern,
are Scoglio del Tonno (Taranto), and Roca, on the coast ofSalento (see Fig. 35.2).
In southern Italy there is continuity in the us~ of multiple or collectivejnhumation buri-
als, whose specific feature is a marked ritual emphasis on weapon-bearers. There are some
hints that similar funerary practices were also in use in central Italy. As we shall see in the f~l
lowing sections, the wide diffusion of cremation cemeteries, in which weapons were excluded
from the funerary deposits, implies a radical change _from the multiple elite graves that
emphasize the paramount role of weapon-bearers. The earliest evidence, from the cemetery
of Canosa (Bari), consists of urns with Apennine decoration.

Age (Co1350-1200 BC)

Tne Late Bronze Age corresponds approxin1ately to the Sub-Apennine facies. This is a time
of radical changes, marking the beginnings of the structural transformations that developed
in the Final Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. Radiocarbon dates from Sub-Apennine layers at
Coppa Nevigata and Roca Vecchia range between about 1250 and 1000 cal BC.
Sub-Apennine pottery includes a variety of cups and bowls with plastic protrusions on the
handles. It is often associated with LH IIIB2-IIIC early, which is mainly produced locally.
Another local wheel-turned class is the grey ('Minyan') pottery.
The Sub-Appenine aspect is distributed over the whole area of peninsular Italy. In the south-
ern Tyrrhenian area the Late Bronze Age coincides with a marked decrease in the overall number
of settlements, which continues from the previous phase. At the end of the period, eastern Emilia
(Bologna) and Romagna apparently experienced the demographic crisis of the Terramare,
marked by depopulation of the plains, and settlement continuity in the Apennine area.
Settlement data are scanty. A large rectangular hut (c.15 by 7 m) has been found at Monte
Rovello, southern Etruria, and a ditch -and -embankment system at Torre Mordillo. Oval
structures have been identified at La Starza, small circular huts at Porto Perone. At Scoglio
del Tonno two rectangular buildings and a third large apsidal one were possibly used for
communal functions. There are also consistent indications of metallurgical activity.
Metallurgical workshops include the large elliptical hut of Scarceta, in southern Tuscany
(Poggiani Keller 1999 ), and the wooden platform at Moscosi di Cingoli, in the Marche.
Cremation cemeteries appear in .Lazio (Cavallo Morto) and Apulia (Canosa and Torre
Castelluccia). Throughout this period there is widespread evidence of relationships with the
Palafitte-Terramare communities of the north, including the adoption ofPeschiera bronzes (see
Chapter 38). The circulation of Peschiera bronzes-violin-bow fibulae, Peschiera daggers, and
flange-hilted swords-also took place in the Balkan Peninsula, the Aegean, Cyprus, and the
Levant. Throughout peninsular Italy intensification in the use of metal produced radical changes
in the local economies: bronze implements became a necessary support of all productive activi-
ties, leading to a structural interdependence among both the ore-rich and the other regions. In
the central area, Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche, systematic contacts from northern Italy are indi-
cated by formal features of northern type in the local pottery. Possible implications include an
interest in the exploitation of the mining resources of Tuscany by the Palafitte-Terramare com-
munities, who were probably also looking for a direct approach to the Adriatic. Rather than a
pervasive formal influence, in southern Italy a small number of vessels of Palafitte-Terramare
type appear in several contexts, both settlements and cremation cemeteries.
The period is also characterized by the main concentration of Aegean voyages to southern
Italy. One of the most important sites is Scoglio del Tonno, at Taranto, probably an indige-
nous emporion, set on the best natural harbour of the Ionian coast. The abundant Mycenaean
pottery consists mainly of imported closed vessels, probably traded for their contents. In the
other important site, Roca, the Mycenaean pottery included a majority of open vessels, usu-
ally associated with individual consumption, along with the local production ofbronze arte-
facts of Aegean type. This probably indicates the presence of a resident foreign group, a trend
that continued in the Final Bronze Age.
Mycenaean pottery, mostly of south Italian production, is also found in the central and
northern regions. The procurement of metal and amber were among the main goals of the
intensive sailing to the central Mediterranean from the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.

Another significant development was the invasion of the Aeolian islands and parts of north-
eastern Sicily, starting from the southern Tyrrhenian coast. This episode, following the dete-
rioration in the relationships between the islands and the Italian coast opposite, is the initial
phase of a radical change in the political and economic setting in this area.

Final Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (c.1200-720 Be)

Together, the Final Bronze Age and Early Iron Age mark a definite change in territorial and
sociopolitical organization: the Final Bronze Age facies may often be identified as the direct
ancestor of regional Iron Age cultures. In turn, the consolidation of markedly regional
aspects corresponds to processes of cultural and ethnic definition, which in the central
Tyrrhenian area lead to the earliest emergence of city states.

The Final Bronze Age Facies, Chiusi-Cetona

In Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, and Romagna the Final Bronze Age facies ('Chiusi-Cetona') is
characterized by formal similarities, indicating close relationships, with the north -eastern Po
plain and Frattesina. The pottery includes the basic Final Bronze Age shapes-ovoid jars,
biconical vessels, carinated cups and bowls, with decoration reminiscent of Terramare pat-
terns. The regions involved are the same as those that in the Late Bronze Age were in contact
with the Terramare communities. In the north -eastern Po plain, Frattesina, the paramount
Final Bronze Age centre of both craftsmanship and trade, continued the Terramare-Palafitte
tradition, though on a much larger scale. Thousands of glass and antler artefacts, hundreds of
objects ofbronze, faience, amber, and elephant ivory, along with huge quantities of unfinished
pieces and discard, document the economic role of this site. The quantitative dimension of the
production, and the distribution of some specific types (amber beads ofTiryns and Allumiere
type, ivory combs, glass beads) from Sardinia to the eastern Mediterranean, probably indicate
the involvement in this system of a Cypriot-Phoenician component (Bietti Sestieri 2010: 357).
In the Chiusi-Cetona area inland settlements are mostly on hills and plateaux, for example
Chiusi and Casa Carletti in Tuscany, Calbana in Romagna (La Pilusa and Zanini 2007).
Except for Vetulonia, there is no evidence of a Bronze Age occupation in the future
Villanovan centres along the Tyrrhenian coast. Funerary practices are documented by small
cremation cemeteries: Ponte S. Pietro and Sticciano Scalo (Tuscany), Panicarola and
Monteleone di Spoleto (Umbria). The most important cemetery is Pianello di Genga
(Ancona, Marche), with some 650 burials, and identified as corresponding to a 'tribal' com-
munity (Vanzetti 1999). The urns are frequently decorated with the Vogelsonnenbarke ('bird-
sun-boat') or birds' heads pattern. Weapons are systematically excluded from the funerary
outfit. The Chiusi-Cetona area participated in the circulation of some specific types ofbronze
artefact: pick-ingots, socketed shovels, and winged axes of Ponte S. Giovanni type. Between
Frattesina and Tuscany, Umbria, and the coastal zone of Marche and Romagna, these types
are found in a number of bronze hoards. Further east and north the Italian route merged into
a wider international network, from Friuli to the northern Balkans, and Dalmatia,
Switzerland, southern Germany, eastern and north-western France (Borgna 1992). A more
localized metallurgical network emerged towards the end of the Final Bronze Age frob
northern Tuscany to the Alpine zone of France (Venturino Gambari 2009).

At the Pinal Bronze Age-Early Iron Age transition, different cultural and political entities
emerged over the wide area of Chiusi-Cetona: in Emilia Romagna the northern Villanovan
complex, with the main centres at Bologna and Verucchio, apparently the direct successors
to Prattesina as central places of both production and trade. Other cultural and territorial
entities that emerge in the adjacent regions are the Piceni (in the Marche), and Umbri, along
with Villanovan centres at Permo and Perugia.

The Early Iron Age Picene Culture (Marche)

The Iron Age facies in the Marche (Colonna and Franchi Dell'Orto 1999) is not clearly
defined in the earliest phase; in the subsequent period the pottery is characterized by flam-
boyant elaborations of shapes in use on the peninsula. The local Villanovan (two cremation
cemeteries and a settlement on an adjacent hilltop at Permo) is connected to the Villanovan
aspect of Chiusi, and to Bologna as regards the metal industry. Permo preserves a Villanovan
facies at least during the Early Iron Age. The initial phase of the Early Iron Age (Piceno I) is
mainly documented by small groups of burials. In Pice no II a more substantial occupation
concentrates in the Tronto, Tenna, Chienti, Potenza, and Esino valleys. Important hill settle-
ments near the coast, often continuing from the Final Bronze Age, include Colle di
Cappuccini (Ancona), Osimo, and Moie di Pollenza.
Recent excavations at Matelica (Macerata), in the upper Esino Valley, revealed a complex
process that developed from the Early Iron Age to the Orientalizing period (Silvestrini and
Sabbatini 2008): the sites comprise the settlements and cemeteries of Monte Gallo (Early
Iron Age), and the later ones ofTrinita and Crocifisso; from the seventh centurync a process
of demographic growth is documented by small settlements and cemeteries along the valley.
After the earliest phase, in which there are only a few cremations, inhumation is the exclu-
sive funerary ritual. During Piceno I the funerary goods consist of a fibula or a razor. In
Piceno II some impasto vessels were given to the dead, along with personal ornaments, and
weapons. A few pottery and bronze types (the so-called cothon and the spectacle and four-
spiral fibulae) have close parallels on the eastern Adriatic coast, although the metal artefacts
are mainly of Villanovan Bolognese type. The Early Iron Age-Orientalizing transition is
marked by a process of social differentiation. The abundance of amber from Picene burials
indicates the region's role in the amber trade towards peninsular Italy.

The Final Bronze Age Tolfa-Allumiere Group in Southern Etruria

The Final Bronze Age development in southern Etruria is the most important regional proc-
ess towards sociopolitical complexity and territorial organization. The local Proto-Villanovan
pottery (Tolfa-Allumiere facies) is characterized by engraved and plastic decoration.
The settlement system aims at territorial control, through the selection of isolated tuff pla-
teaux (from 3-5 to around 20 hectares in extent). Formal burial is exclusive to a few individu-
als, probably those invested with superordinate social roles. From the earliest Final Bronze
Age the ritual is based on the conception of the urn as the deceased's house, probably con-
nected to the destruction of the body by fire, and its transition to a different physical dim en-
sion. This idea is expressed by modelling the urn lid as a miniature roof (Bietti Sestieri and De
Santis 2004) and further elaborated in the successive phase by furnishing the deceased with a

miniature outfit. Weapons are systematically excluded from burials. The only real cemetery
(about one hundred tombs), at Poggio La Pozza, might mark the extension of formal burial to
whole communities. Overall this ritual seems to indicate the centralization of political deci-
sion-making through the acceptance of the ideological implications of cremation.
The development of a sophisticated system of metal production is best exemplified by the
bronze cups and stilted and foliate fibulae from Coste del Marano. Finished artefacts, and
probably metal, were distributed from southern Etruria towards the interior and along the
Tyrrhenian coast, from Lazio to Sicily. This trade line continued by sea towards the Aegean
and eastern Mediterranean, as indicated by stilted fibulae of Italian inspiration from Attica
and Cyprus (Dickinson 2006: 158, Fig. 5.22.10). There is also some evidence of trade with
Sardinia. TI1e Final Bronze Age-Early Iron Age transition is marked by the emergence of a
distinctive metal industry ('Piediluco-Contigliano'; see Bietti Sestieri 2010: 258-60, Fig. 9).

The Early Iron Age in Etruria (Tuscany and Northern Lazio)

The Early Iron Age Villanovan is basically a unitary phenomenon, and the direct ancestor of
the histofical Etruscan culture. This is indicated by its overall cultural homogeneity, along
with the synchronous emergence of both central and peripheral sites, and by the historical
record. Ancient historians (Cato in Servius, ad Aeneidem xi.567; Livy i.2.3) hint at the
Etruscans' early wide territorial power. The Villanovan facies is known mainly from crema-
tion cemeteries: biconical urns with standardized decorative patterns, cups, bowls, vessels of
specifically ritual significance; later classes include local imitations of Middle and Late
Geometric Euboean-Cycladic skyphoi, and local Geometric pottery. The proto-urban cen-
tres of southern Etruria were established from the end of the Final Bronze Age on the large
plateaux ofVeii, Caere, Tarquinia, Bisenzio, and Vulci, all surrounded by several cemeteries;
the emergence of a unified political organization took place according to the different local
situations. In the interior and northern area of Etruria the settlements are smaller, ,and
were mostly occupied from the Iron Age. Dwelling structures are known from the villages
of Calvario (Tarquinia), and Grancarro on Lake Bolsena. From the Early Iron Age the
Villanovan funerary ritual apparently reflects the centralization of political power, as indi-
cated by the markedly limited number of mens funerary outfits containing a sword, probably
relating to the community 'chiefs: The appearance of princely figures, with outstanding
funerary outfits, dates from the transition to the Orientalizing period. The rich metal indus-
try produced arch and serpentine fibulae with disc-foot, lunate razors, 'italic' swords, spear-
heads, winged and socketed axes, bronze-sheet vessels, and defensive weapons. Villanovan
bronzes werewidelytradedin Europe (e.g. Collis 1984:58, Fig.14).

The Final Bronze Age-Early Iron Age in Ancient Lazio

Radiocarbon dates fall around 1200-850 cal BC. During the earliest Final Bronze Age phase
ancient Lazio was under the influence of southern Etruria, indicated by the similarity in
material culture, ritual, and settlement patterns (Bietti Sestieri and De Santis 2008). The
coastal plain, with major sites at Pratica di Mare (Lavinium) and Ardea, was involved in this
connection. The formal features and ideological implications of the funerary ritual are iden-
tical to those seen in southern Etruria: small groups of cremations, with roof-lid urns, and

no weapons. In the subsequent Final Bronze Age phase (Latial period 1) the influence of
southern Etruria over Lazio faded, probably in connection with a process of consolidation of
the region's cultural-ethnic identity. The evidence can be identified especially fron1 the local
elaboration of the funerary ritual: fonnal burial was still exclusive to a few individuals (the
total for the whole region does not exceed 6o tombs), with miniature assemblages including
the indicators of the main social roles: the sword, indicating military-political power; the
knife, and a statuette in the form of an offerer apparently indicating a religious role. A few
outstanding depositions include double shields, and, more rarely, a miniature cart drawn by
two horses. In a few cases (Quadrato, Rome, tomb 1; Pratica di Mare tomb 21), the sword and
the indicators of religious role appear in the same burial. Apparently the chiefs, priests, and
possibly chiefly priests who were entitled to this exclusive ritual were also the agents of the
region's assertion of cultural identity. In this period and the following one the region's
acknowledged centre moved from the coastal plain to the Alban Hills.
The Early Iron Age (Latial periods 2 and 3, tenth-ninth century cal Be) is characterized by
a process of territorial organization, including the emergence of proto-urban centres, that
differs from the planned occupation of the plateaux of the future Etruscan cities seen in
southern Etruria. Throughout period 2 the archaeological facies shows a connection to the
Fossa -grave groups of Campania and Calabria.
With Latial period 3 the region's cultural-economic gravitation shifts from Campania to
southern Etruria (Veii). The local development consists of the emergence of a number of territo-
rial districts, around the central core of the Alban Hills, each comprising one of the future Latin
city states: Rome, Gabii, Lavinium, Ardea, Antium, Satricum, Tibur. Rome, on the left bank of
the Tiber and facing the Is9la Tiberina, the best natural ford towards Etruria, was the first of these
centres to be directly involved in the Villanovan connection, and to elaborate a process of urban
formation. During period 2 it consisted of several small settlements and cemeteries, between the
Capitoline and Palatine hills, and the Forum Valley. New evidence has been found on
the Capitoline Hill and in Caesar's Forum. At the end of phase 2B a unified settlement occupied
the central area, and the cemeteries were displaced on the adjacent hills (Esquiline, Quirinal,
Viminal). This marked the beginnings of the process of Rome's urban formation.
The Early Iron Age funerary ritual involves both cremation and inhumation. A significant
change from the Final Bronze Age is the generalized appearance of proper cemeteries, the
correlate of whole communities, and organized by kin-groups.
In the earliest phase the cremation ritual with miniature outfit was still in use, for instance
at Santa Palomba, Rome (Fig. 35.5); as is the case with the cemetery of Osteria dell'Osa, these
burials are central to their group, and include the men invested with the main social roles.
The communities were ruled by single 'chiefs'. Latial period 3 (Early Iron Age advanced-late)
corresponds to the region's full involvement in the trade system ofEtruria. The emergence of
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The Final Bronze Age-Early Iron Age in Campania

Throughout this period different cultures coexisted in Campania. Despite limited evidence,
distinctive archaeological aspects can be identified already in the Final Bronze Age: the min-
iature outfits in the cremation, cemetery of Carinaro (Caserta) (Marzocchella 2004) are simi-
lar to those seen in Lazio, whereas the cremation ritual from a contemporary group of burials
(S. Angelo in Formis) shows a close connection to southern Etruria. The distinctive features

FIG. 355Santa Palomba, Rome, tomb 6, Early Iron Age cremation burial (adult man): urn
and miniature vessels. Centre: urn with roof-lid. Left: three storage jars and four carinated
bowls. Right: amphora, biconical jar, high stand, two carinated cups and two conical-trun-
cated bowls.
Photo: A. De Santis.

of these two aspects may be identified as the direct ancestors of two main features of the local
Iron Age: the Fossa-grave culture, and the southern Villanovan.
The Fossa-grave group is distributed along the Tyrrhenian coast and the adjacent areas of
Campania and Calabria, with strong connections with Lazio. The overall homogeneity in the
archaeological facies indicates intensive relationships over this wide territory. Fossa-grave
cemeteries include Torre Galli (Pacciarelli 1999) and S. Onofrio in Calabria, Cuma, Suessula,
and the Sarno Valley group in Campania. The main indigenous site is Cuma. The most
important recent discovery, Poggiomarino in the Sarno Valley, is a specialized site set in an
interior wetland (Albore Livadie and Cicirelli 2003). The structures are stratified platforms
of earth, stone, and wood layers, with evidence of the processing of metal, antler, and bone,
pottery, wood, possibly ivory, glass, and amber.
During the initial phase of the Early Iron Age a certain degree of similarity to the contern-
porary Villanovan facies of southern Etruria characterizes the Campanian aspects of Capua,
Pontecagnano, Sala Consilina. In the subsequent period they were involved in processes of
integration with the indigenous communities.
The third component, the Oliveto-Cairano group, consists of small inland settlements and
inhumation cemeteries dating from an advanced phase of the Early Iron Age, and character-
ized by a distinctive material culture. This group was connected to the "Adriatic coast, via the
Ofanto and Sele valleys.
A further component to the picture of Early Iron Age Campania is the Euboean emporion
ofPithecusa (Ischia), the predecessor of the Greek colonies of this region.

The Final Bronze Age-Early Iron Age in the Central-Southern Regions

(Southern Umbria, Sabina, Abruzzo, Molise)
This section of the peninsula consists of a mountainous interior interconnected by river val-
leys; the eastern part includes the Adriatic coast. The Final Bronze Age/Early Iron Age facies
is dose to that of Lazio and southern Etruria. In the advanced phase of the Early Iron Agetthe
inland Apennine and the Adriatic coastal areas show a systematic connection to the Picene
facies of the Marche (Colonna and Franchi Dell'Orto 1999; Atti IIPP 2003).

The settlements are often on hills or small plateaux, as well as along lake banks and river-
banks. Important hill sites have been identified in the coastal zone of Abruzzo and Molise.
A systematic connection to Apulia is indicated by the occurrence of Proto-Geon1etric and
Geometric pottery, and of large dolia in coastal sites.
Inhumation is the exclusive funerary ritual in Abruzzo; individual burials are set within
stone circles, and covered by mounds; rows of stone stelae, first documented in the Final
Bronze Age group from Celano (Aquila), are specific to male burials. A recurrent feature is
constituted by large cemeteries, continuing in use from the Final Bronze Age/Early Iron Age
to the late republican period.
In Sabina the Early Iron Age cremation ritual is similar to the Latial one; in southern Umbria
the local facies (Terni-Col:fiorito) is related both to the regions further north and to Abruzzo, as
indicated by the use of cremation along with inhumation, and of stone circles and stelae.

The Final Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in the Southernmost Regions
In Calabria, Basilicata, and Apulia distinctions between local aspects are nuanced. A Final
Bronze Age facies characterized by the use of cremation is documented at Timmari
(Basilicata). Some pottery of LH IIIC late is still present, while Sub-Mycenaean pottery is
only represented at Roca. A functional and technological legacy of the Aegean/Near Eastern
frequentation of these regions are the local Proto-Geometric pottery (mostly handmade
from purified clay, and matt-painted) and the wheel-turned dolia. The Iron Age pottery
includes a class of purified clay, with painted geometric decoration (Yntema 1990). The cop-
per supply probably depended mainly on the resources of Calabria, although the abundance
of spectacle and four -spiral fibulae are indications of trans-Adriatic contacts. The settlement
system is still characterized by the occupation of coastal sites and of interior locations suited
to the control of territory and long-distance communication. Both types are usually rather
small (fewer than 5 hectares for Roca), and site hierarchy does not seem to exceed two levels.
Apparently an autonomous development towards the emergence of local proto-urban and/
or Early State forms did not take place in these regions.

Throughout the Final Bronze Age-Early Iron Age this region is connected to eastern Sicily
and Lipari (Atti IIPP 2004); this is probably a direct sequel to the Late Bronze Age 'Ausonian'
takeover. The abundance ofbronze artefacts, combined with the development of local types
and style, hints at the systematic exploitation of the Calabrian copper ores. Surveys in the
Sybaris plain, the Poro promontory, and the Ionian coast indicate a limited demographic
growth and the consolidation of a two-tiered settlement system; the extent of the plateaux
occupied by major sites (Torre Mordillo, Amendolara) is 10-15 hectares. The Early Iron Age
facies is similar to the Fossa-grave culture of Campania; in the Ionian area similarities to the
adjacent sites ofBasilicata include funerary mounds and painted geometric pottery. At Broglio
the best-preserved Final Bronze Age building is a 7 x 3 m storage room with five large dolia,
one of which probably contained olive oil (Peroni and Trucco 1994: 855, note 59). A contem-
porary feature is a smithy for the local manufacture of iron objects. Relatively complete ele-
ments have been recorded at Francavilla Marittima, on the Acropolis ofTimpone della Motta:

these include a large Early Iron Age apsidal building, a hearth, and a group of loom-weights,
along with impasto and geometric pottery, and metal artefacts. Radiocarbon dates from Early
Iron Age structures range from 1040 to 8oo cal BC at 95-4 per cent probability.
From the end of the Final Bronze Age inhumation was the exclusive ritual. A small group
of inhumations, with weapons as part of men's funerary outfits, comes from Castellace
(Oppido Mamertina). Early Iron Age inhumation cemeteries include Torre Galli and
S. Onofrio di Roccella Jonica. At Torre Galli (Pacciarelli 1999) the tombs are organized by
kin -groups, with weapons occurring regularly in men's burials. The cemeteries in the Sybaris
plain (Castiglione di Paludi, Amendolara) are characterized by the wealth of bronzes; in the
advanced phase of the Early Iron Age, the cemeteries of Torre Mordillo and Francavilla show
some evidence of permanent social articulation. A different kind of cemetery, with parallels
in eastern Sicily, is found in western Calabria: multiple burials in underground chamber
tombs, associated with geometric pottery imitating Greek prototypes.
Calabrias rich metallurgy is also documented by hoards, for example Cerchiara and Ciro,
mainly formed by whole but often unfinished shaft-hole axes. Iron was used at least from the Late
Bronze Age. The participation in international trade is indicated by the local working of elephant
ivory at Torre Mordillo, by the occurrence of Egyptian -style scarabs at Torre Galli, and of a
Phoenician bronze bowl from Francavilla; moreover, spearheads of Albanian Pazhok type from
Castellace, and spectacle and four-spiral fibulae, hint at a connection to the west Balkan coast.

The Final Bronze Age facies is not dearly defined; in the Early Iron Age a specific feature is the
tenda-style geometric pottery. The main Final Bronze Age settlements, often continuing in
the Early Iron Age, are hill sites in control of the coastal plain and of the natural routes towards
the interior (Cipolloni Sampo 1999). Monte Timmari (Matera) is a system of small hill settle-
ments with their cemeteries. Early Iron Age settlements occupy different locations (for exam-:;
ple, Noepoli, Chiaro monte, in the Sinni Valley, S. Maria d~nglona, between the Sinni and Agri
valleys; Incoronata-San Teodoro, on an open terrace over the Basento Valley). Here an Early
Iron Age phase is followed by a colonial phase, subsequent to the foundation ofMetaponto.
Final Bronze Age cemeteries include different types~ Some Bronze Age underground
tombs are still in use. The cemetery ofTimmari-Vigna Coretti (Cipolloni Sampo 1999), with
248 individual cremations, is organized by kin -groups. Anthropological examinations of a
sample of 62 indicate the occurrence ofboth sexes and all age classes. Grave goods are rather
rare and include fibulae, pins, glass beads, antler combs, and spindle-whorls or ornaments,
and razors in men's burials.
The Early Iron Age cemeteries are formed by several hundred, and up to a few thou-
sand, individual inhumation burials. Different cemetery cores are distributed around the
settlements. Some differences, probably the correlate of varying degrees of social organi-
zation, have been observed. Around the settlement of Chiaramonte, in the cemeteries of
Serrone and S. Pasquale, women's funerary outfits are especially rich in ornaments. At
Sta. Maria dAnglona differences in wealth are particularly clear: the Valle Sorigliano
cemetery includes small groups of tumulus ton1bs with lavish sets of ornaments for the
women, weapons and tools for some men (Frey 1991). In the nearby, slightly later ceme-
tery of Cocuzzolo Sorigliano, tumuli are rare, and there is a generally smaller number of
ornaments. The most important cemetery is Incoronata-San Teodoro (Chiartano 1996),

where 532 Early Iron Age tombs have been excavated, divided into groups. The great
majority of men have one or two spears/javelins, while only 14 have a bronze or iron
sword, along with the most elaborate types of serpentine fibulae. An important indicator
of ranking might be represented by two bronze sticks ('aste di comando'), along with a
sword, from tomb 454 Personal ornaments in recurring combinations appear in nearly
all women's burials, especially spectacle and four-spiral fibulae. An important female role
is indicated by loom-weights associated with a painted askos in tombs 209 and 235.
According to the excavator, the evidence from this cemetery indicates a relatively simple,
kin-based social organization.
Inter-regional connections in the Final Bronze Age are mainly documented by the ceme-
tery of Timmari, with parallels in the contemporary complexes of the same category in the
Adriatic area (Pianello di Genga, Frattesina). In the Early Iron Age, Basilicata (ancient
Enotria) was in contact with the Villanovan centres of Campania, especially Sala Consilina,
where the Enotrian-style tenda pottery is quite popular. This site may have been the medium
for the transmission of Enotrian-type artefacts and contacts to the Villanovan centres of

The Final Bronze Age facies is exemplified at Roca (Bietti Sestieri 2010: 27-30 ): the impasto
pottery includes all the basic shapes of the period, along with matt-painted Proto-Geometric
vessels, large corded dolia, and LH IIIC late and Sub-Mycenaean pottery. The main Final
Bronze Age features are two unusually large buildings that were destroyed by a sudden fire.
The largest one, a rectangular structure supported by wooden poles 40 x 15 min extent, was
used for a combination of ritual practices and craft activities. The finds comprise two hoards,
one with bronzes of both local and north Italian type, and another with a group of gold -sheet
sun discs; and a group of moulds for bronze artefacts of local and Aegean type (Guglielmino
2005). At Roca, and generally in the Salento, bronze artefacts of Aegean type, some of them
of local manufacture, include pins, knives, double-axes, the Aegean short sword, and small
hammers for the processing of bronze sheet, also of Aegean -Cypriot type, from Surbo
(Macnamara 1970 ).
Other important settlements, mostly continuing in the Early Iron Age and later, are Monte
Saraceno (Nava, Acquaroli, and Preite 1999) on the southern coast of Monte Gargano, with a
ditch and a stone wall separating the settlement from its cemetery; also Coppa Nevigata, and
Madonna di Ripalta (Tunzi Sisto 1999, 108-15), in the Ofanto Valley. Settlements on coastal
promontories and interior hilltops are also known around Bari.
The Final Bronze-Early Iron Age settlement at Torre Castelluccia (Taranto) is character-
ized by a wall enclosing rectangular buildings and a central path. A small hoard of bronze
objects and amber, glass, semi-precious stone, and bone ornaments was found beneath the
floor of structure 7. In the Salento Iron Age layers have been found at Cavallino and Otranto,
the latter including pottery of Albanian type.
Two hundred tombs, dating from the Final Bronze Age to the fourth century BC, have
been excavated in the cemetery of Monte Saraceno. These are generally multiple-inhumation
burials with an average use of around so to 75 years. The funerary outfit in the earliest phase
consisted of a few ornaments; impasto pottery, and finally, in an advanced phase of the Early

Iron Age, Daunian-style painted pottery, arch, spectacle and four-spiral fibulae, and iron
ornaments. Bronze weapons are rare; iron swords come from two tombs dating from the
final phase of the Early Iron Age. Simple stone sculptures, evolving from geometric to
anthropomorphic, are often connected to the tombs. Pit burials for adults and enchytrismos
for children were in use at Salapia, while in the cemeteries of Ordona, Arpi, Lavello, and
Banzi pit inhumations were covered by barrows. The numerous bronze hoards include local,
Balkan, and Aegean components (Carancini and Peroni 1999). The hoards dating from the
advanced Final Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age contain a large number of shaft-hole axes
(Salapia), some trans-Adriatic imports, and various types of socketed axe of Balkan type
from Manduria, Copertino, and Soleto (Carancini and Peroni 1999: plate 33 and table 34).
The Balkan connection is also indicated by the occurrence of Italian bronzes in the coastal
area of the Balkan Peninsula, and of large quantities of Daunian Geometric pottery from
Istria, Dalmatia, and Slovenia.


An overview of the Italian Peninsula during this period shows a long-term sequence of local
and regional processes, whose Final Bronze Age/Early Iron Age outcome may be considered
on two different levels. On the one hand, there is the definition of specific ethnic-cultural
identities, mainly corresponding to Italy's historical regions. On the other, these regional
, entities reveal the emergence of an overall structural difference betwe.en central and south-
ern Italy.
Throughout the first half of the second millennium BC, and until c.1350-1300 Be (Middle-
Late Bronze Age transition), the Pre- and Proto-Apennine, and Apennine, cultures that
appear over the whole of the peninsula probably reflect a low degree of territorial and politi-
cal organization. A system of coastal trade was active among the coasts and islands of south-
ern Italy, and also involved the eastern Adriatic and central Tyrrhenian coasts. The social
structure was based on kinship, with different lineages providing the basic units of the com-
munities. Around the mid -second millennium BC, the funerary correlates of these formally
peer kinship units are collective inhumation burials, in which vveapon-bearers constituted
the most important social component. Segmentary societies of this kip.d probably were not
too different from those found in the same period over wide areas of Europe, including
northern Italy.
A structural feature of these communities was their proneness to interior competition and
conflict, which implies that effective political decisions might only be taken based either on
the agreement among the component groups or on the temporary prevalence of one group
over the others. This situation also involved those regions, mainly Apulia, which from the
seventeenth century Be were reached by systematic sailings from the Aegean and the eastern
Mediterranean. The aim of these voyages was probably the acquisition of resources, includ-
ing local metals, and others, such as amber, which were channelled from Europe to the
Adriatic corridor. The main processes of Aegean-East Mediterranean integration with the
indigenous communities took place in Sicily and the Aeolian islands, which functione<i as
the territorial base for central Mediterranean trade.

Fron1. the Late Bronze Age new factors produced an acceleration in the processes that
v1ere already active in the peninsula: a steady trend of demographic growth, the increasing
de1nand for n1etal, which had gradually become crucial and involved subsistence and
craftsmanship activities, and the intensification of exterior contacts with northern Italy and
the eastern Mediterranean. The latter were mainly mediated by the southern regions.
Throughout the peninsula the Late Bronze Age repertoire of bronze artefacts depended
almost entirely on the north Italian Peschiera metal industry. However, the relationship dif-
fered significantly between the central and southern regions. In the north -central area the
widespread occurrence of Palafitte-Terramare features in the local impasto pottery indi-
cates the circulation of individuals and groups between the two areas. In southern Italy,
especially Apulia, the connection is more localized, and essentially consists of a few Late
Bronze Age cremation cemeteries in which, along with the bronzes, at least some of the
urns belong to specific north Italian types. Small groups of impasto vessels, also of north
Italian type, are found in settlements, for example at Roca. Altogether, this new situation,
marked by the intensification of inter-regional contacts and trade, probably sharpened the
need for effective political control.
Cremation was the critical factor that provided a widely accepted solution to this problem.
The evidence from northern and central Italy shows that this ritual was shaped and perceived
in ideological opposition to the traditional inhumation of groups of socially representative
men with their weapons. Frorn the Late Bronze Age, and especially in the Final Bronze Age,
cremation became the exclusive ritual. Weapons were systematically excluded from the
men's funerary outfit. The only exceptions are single male burials, no more than one or two
for each cemetery, whose grave goods include a weapon. A radical version of this ritual
appears in southern Etruria and, mainly, in ancient Lazio, where Final Bronze Age crema-
tion burial was exclusive to the few individuals holding the main male roles in each commu-
nity. This probably indicates the transition from shared to centralized political power. Rather
than depending on the spread of a new religion, this ritual change probably depended on the
opportunistic adoption of a radical ideological innovation in a particularly favourable his-
torical contingency.
The relationship between the use of cremation and the centralization of political decision-
making was a basic factor of organization in the Late and Final Bronze Age in northern and
central Italy, and apparently an essential condition for the Early Iron Age development of
proto-urban processes in the Villanovan centres, from Emilia Romagna to Etruria and
Campania, and in ancient Lazio.
As regards the southern regions, the rule in the Early Iron Age is a generalized return to
inhumation, with large cemeteries organized by clearly identifiable groups, and weapons
systematically present in men's graves. This situation probably corresponds to the traditional
sharing of political power among the kinship units of each community. A relationship
between this kind of political organization and the absence of local processes of Early State
and proto-urban formation seems likely. In other words, in the Early Iron Age it is possible to
recognize a permanent structural difference between central and southern Italy.
It is interesting to note that the main local trajectories toward social and political com-
plexity did not develop in the regions of Aegean contact, but, rather, in northern and central
Italy, where a Cypriot-Phoenician economic influence was probably operating from the time
of the Final Bronze Age.


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THROUGHOUT the Bronze Age, Sicily was characterized by two complementary features,
often seen in association with insularity: an almost total autonomy from mainland Italy as
regards both the formal traits of the local archaeological cultures and the structure and
organization of the communities involved; and a concentration of foreign contacts, espe-
cially from the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean, which produced specific forms of
cultural, political, and economic integration that were far more pervasive than what is seen
in the Italian Peninsula (Bietti Sestieri 2003). Both these features were radically altered by
the closer relation with mainland Italy that was introduced in the thirteenth century BC with
the so-called 1\usonian' invasion.
The context of the historical process in Sicily and the Aeolian islands during the earliest
phase of the local Bronze Age (c.2200-18oo BC) was a system of coastal trade probably
extending over the greater part of the central Mediterranean, and involving both coastal sites
and islands. The archaeological correlate of this system is an overall similarity in matefial
culture (especially the general use of handmade impasto pottery with incised decoration,
and many formal similarities in the basic repertoire). It seems rather likely that journeys
to this area at the time of the earliest systematic sailings from the Aegean and eastern
Mediterranean (c.seventeenth-sixteenth centuries Be) 'took place through participation in
the local trade system.
The Sicilian territory is characterized by mountain ranges along the northern coast, and in
the west-central zone, and bythevolcanicpeakofmountEtna (c.3,ooo m a.s.l.), in the north-
eastern zone. Relatively wide plains include the coastal strip, the area surrounding the Monti
Iblei, from Catania to Gela, in the south-eastern corner, and the western zone between
Trapani and Sciacca. Tne rnain rivers are the Belice, Platani, and Salso on the southern coast,
the Tellaro, Anapo, and Simeto on the eastern coast, and several medium-range rivers along
the northern coast. Natural resources include sulphur, salt, and alum in the south-central
zone of Sicily, copper in the Monti Peloritani (the north-eastern corner), amber (simetite)
from the western slopes ofEtna, and obsidian from Lipari. Of the two arc?ipelagos at a short
distance from the Sicilian coasts, the Lipari/ Aeolian and Egadi islands, only the former
played an important role in the history of the region. Ustica and Pantelleria were culturally
close to Sicily especially in the Middle Bronze Age; although probably autonomous, *'the
Maltese islands were in continual contact with the much larger island, Sicily, to their north.

The Sicilian and Aeolian Bronze Age sequence, which is rather different from the Italian
one, depends in the first place on the specific formal features and chronological length of the
local archaeological cultures. It is worth n1entioning that the 1nain changes in the archaeo-
logical cultures apparently coincided with important historical processes and events. TI1e
relative and absolute chronology is based on stratigraphic evidence, especially from the
Aeolian islands, recent calibrated radiocarbon dates, and Mycenaean pottery from local con-
texts, which is related to the Aegean Late Bronze Age chronology (I6so-Ioso Be). In Sicily
the Early Bronze Age (c.2200-ISOO cal Be) corresponds to the facies Naro-Partanna/
Castelluccio, Rod!-Tindari-Vallelunga (RTV), and Moarda. The Aeolian Capo Graziano
culture is divided into two phases, c.22oo-I8oo, and c.18oo-1430 BC. The earliest Aegean
imports, (final MH and LH I-II-IIIA1) appear in phase 2. Tif'e Middle Bronze Age Thapsos-
Milazzese facies (c.IS00-1250 Be) is associated with LH IIIA and IIIB imports. To the Late
Bronze Age belong the Sicilian Pantalica culture, probably beginning in the thirteenth cen-
tury Be, and the roughly contemporary Lipari 1\usoniall, also present in north -eastern Sicily.
From the twelfth century Be to the Iron Age the Sicilian archaeological evidence breaks pro-
gressively into an intricate picture of local facies that may be formally related either to the
Ausonian or to the local Bronze Age tradition, or to both.
Our knowledge of the archaeological record depends mainly on the large-scale systematic
excavations carried out by Paolo Orsi in Sicily (end of the nineteenth and early twentieth
century), and by Luigi Bernabe Brea and Madeleine Cavalier in the Aeolian islands and on
the Sicilian coast opposite them (second half of the twentieth century). Based on these works,
the Bronze Age occupation in Sicily is thoroughly documented especially in the eastern and
south -central zones, while more general information is available for the Aeolian archipelago
(Fig. 36.1). Some recent studies have been devoted to the re-examination of old complexes
and to a few recent excavations. Two syntheses, by Robert Leighton (1999) and Sebastiana
Tusa (1999 ), provide accurate and useful overviews of the existing data.


<~ooa'"'"" 0 " 0 " 000 " 0 " 000 '"'*"" 00 " 0 " 0 " 00 "'*""'**""'""'*"

Sicilian Styles
Based on recent research on the Sicilian Early Bronze Age, it seems clear that the Castelluccio
culture was present over the whole territory of the region, whereas the other two more or less
contemporary aspects, RTV and Moarda, were more locally significant.

The Castelluccio Culture

The Castelluccio facies is quite distinctive: its main feature is the handmade impasto pottery
with matt-painted decoration in geometric patterns, usually in black-on-red. This type of
pottery is clearly related to the local Copper Age tradition, as documented by the
Serraferlicchio and S. Ippolito facies, but is also rather close to the Middle Helladic matt-
painted pottery production. The repertoire includes different types of jars, high-handled

FIG. 36.1 Map of Sicily showing sites mentioned in the text. The list includes the most important
sites and those which are described in some detail. Drawing: Joanne Pore, Leiden University. 1.
Lipari, 2. Panarea, 3 Salina, 4 Filicudi, 5. Ustica, 6. Milazzo, 7 Tindari, 8. Rodi, 9 Messina, 10.
Naxos, 11. Valledolmo, 12. Moarda, 13. Metapiccola, 14. Timpa Dieri, 15. Pantalica, 16. Thapsos, 17.
Ognina, 18. Cassibile, 19. Grotta Chiusazza, 20. Cava Lazzaro, 21. Castelluccio, 22. Monte Tabuto,
23. Molino della Badia-Madonna del Piano, 24. Caltagirone, 25. Monte Dessueri, 26. Manfria,
27. Morgantina, 28. Sabucina, 29. Cannatello, JO. Monte Grande, 31. S.Angelo Muxaro, 32. Scirinda
and Anguilla di Ribera, 33. Milena, 34. Caldare, 35 Polizzello, 36. Carcarella di Calascibetta, 37
Mokarta, 38. Pantelleria.
Map: Joanna Pore, Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University.

carinated cups, and open vessels on a high conical stand (Fig. 36.2). Identified mainly by its
decorative patterns, which are rather similar to the local Copper Age style, the Naro-
Partanna group, located in the south-western interior and coastal areas of Sicily, is consid-
ered to be a marker of an early phase of Castelluccio. The Castelluccio facies from the Etna
area has been divided into four phases in a recent study by Massimo Cultraro (1997).

The Rodi-Tindari- Vallelunga (RTV) Facies

Apart from a few sites of exclusively RTV facies on the northern coast (Boccadifalco
(Palermo), Tindari, and Messina, three grotticella tombs from Rodi (Messina), and a small
group of individual inhumations in large doli a (storage vessels) from Messina-Torrttnte

FIG. 36.2 The basic pottery shapes and decoration of the Early Bronze Age Castelluccio
culture, in the area around Mount Etna. The pottery is hand-made, with matt painted deco-
rations in black on red.
Source: Cultraro 1997.

Boccetta (Tusa 1999: 457), RTV pottery is systematically associated with Castelluccio mate-
rial, for example at Serra del Palco, Ciavolaro di Ribera (Agrigento ), and the grotticella tomb
from Vallelunga (Caltanissetta) (Procelli 2004). The distinctive feature of RTV pottery is
the absence of painted decoration. Its forms and functional features share some elements in
common with the Castelluccio repertoire and, mainly, with the Palma Campania and Proto-
Apennine pottery of the Italian peninsula (for example, conical stands, shallow high-
handled cups, large carinated bowls, axe"'"shaped protrusions). Sites ofRTV facies have been
found on the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria, while formal parallels with RTV pottery fea-
tures appear as far as the Ionian and .A.driatic coasts, at Capo Piccolo in Calabria and
Cavallino in southern Puglia.

The Moarda Facies

Rather than an archaeological fa~ies, this is a pottery style clearly related to Bell Beaker. It is
found in limited quantities in the same area of western Sicily that in the late Copper Age was
occupied by groups using Bell Beakers. Moarda pottery is usually found in association with
Naro-Partanna and Castelluccio, and is sporadically present in the southern zone.

Structures and Organization in Early Bronze Age Sicily

;- t Early Bronze Age society in Sicily was organized in small village communities, for example
Manfria near Gela ( Orlandini 1962) and La Muculufa near Licata (Holloway, Joukowsky, and
Lukesh 1990 ), which joined together to form clusters, probably the equivalent of 'tribal'
groups. A certain degree of functional specialization and interdependence may have been a
specific feature of a settlement pattern of this kind. The territory of Sicily was intensively
occupied along the coastal areas as well as in the interior. A considerable proportion of sites
are on hills and small plateaux, but the plains were also occupied, in order to exploit their
rich agricultural soils. Some specific environmental situations produced local adaptations.
This is the case with the valleys in the Hyblaean area (cave), which provided a favourable
environment for both settlement and farming. On the lower slopes ofEtna and in the adja-
cent plain, the natural caves in the lava flows were used for both settlement and burial. The
open-air dwelling structures are huts of circular or irregular plan, with a low base of pebbles
or stones supporting a wattle-and-daub wall and conical roof. A single larger hut of oval or
rectangular plan was present at Manfria, and also appears at other sites. Two settlements
near Siracusa, Thapsos, and Timpa Dieri, were protected by a stone wall with semicircular
towers along the outer face; at Monte Grande (Agrigento) there are circular stone enclosures.
The centralization of some religious and economic activities appears both in the eastern and
in the southern zone. At the eponymous site, Castelluccio (Siracusa), an interior settlement
on a wide plateau in the Tellaro Valley, the highest terrace was occupied by an exceptionally
large oval building (c.2o m long), partly cut into the bedrock. The performance of ritual func-
tions is indicated by a concentration of large vessels in two holes in the floor, and by the
repeated use of fire (Voza 1999: 17-23, Figs. 13-14). The important flint deposits of the Ippari
Valley (Ragusa) were systematically exploited by the communities of a group of hill sites
(Mounts Sallia, Raci, Tabuto, and Racello). The exploitation and trade of sulphur from the
local deposits is attested at Monte Grande.
The earliest systematic Aegean presence in .Sicily, which might be related to the acquisi.:: .
tion of local raw materials, is indicated by a few LH II B-IIIA sherds in the area of Agrigento
(Monte Grande, Madre Chiesa, Milena) (Castellana 1998). Some evidence is also present in
the area around Mount Etna (Cultraro 1997). An important connection to the Maltese archi-
pelago is documented at Ognina, a small island originally connected to the southern coast of
Sicily, by an association of Maltese Tarxien cemetery, Castelluccio, grey impasto, and Capo
Graziano pottery.
The funerary rite is inhumation, usually multiple or collective (up to so burials), in nat-
ural caves and more often in small chambers (grotticelle) cut horizontally in exposed rocky
slopes. Megalithic funerary structures are rather rare, and usually associated with grotti-
celle. Special funerary features, possibly an indication of social competition between
kin-groups in the same community, appear in the cemeteries of the Tellaro Valley (e.g.
Cava Lazzaro): these are sculptured, probably figurative, patterns on some of the stone
slabs that sealed the tombs' entrances, and rock-cut pillared porticos. The funerary outfits
comprise pottery, flint blades, stone ornaments, clay figurines, and 'horns of consecration',
some local amber, bone artefacts, including the bossed bone plaques, with parallels from
Troy to Lerna, Apulia and Malta, bronzes with Aegean and Anatolian parallels (scale bal-
ances, tweezers, a flat spearhead) (Leighton 1999: 141, Figs. 70-1; Cultraro 1997 for Aegeart
imports from the Etna area). The subsistence economy as documented at Manfria was
based on breeding (so per cent cattle, ovicaprines, pigs, -and a limited percentage of horse

and dog) and on cereal cultivation. There is a lin1ited evidence of a local production of
bronze artefacts, mainly flat axes and stnall daggers. As regards trade activities, it is possi-
ble to hypothesize that a double system was in operation: local products, such as flint,
stone ornaments, possibly an1ber, probably circulated domestically; exotic goods, some of
them of Aegean origin, and possibly metal, reached Sicily through the coastal trade system
that operated in this area of the Mediterranean.

The Aeolian Islands

The Early Bronze Age Capo Graziano Facies
According to Bernabe Brea and Cavalier (1980 ), in the earliest phase of the local Early Bronze
Age the Aeolian settlements occupied open positions (e.g. Lipari, Contrada Diana, and
Filicudi, Piano del Porto). The advanced phase is characterized by the shifting of the main
settlements to naturally defended positions: the acropolis of Lipari, and Capo Graziano, the
eponymous site, on a small promontory on the south-eastern side of Filicudi. Some traces
are also known at Panarea: Punta Peppa Maria, Piano Quartara, and La Calcara. The cargo of
a boat probably carrying pottery from Lipari to the other islands has been found in Lipari
harbour, near Pignataro diFuori. Some evidence is also known from Salina (Serro dei Cianfi)
and Stromboli (Pianicelli di Ginostra and San Vincenzo). Capo Graziano pottery is an
unpainted impasto, with black-grey surface. The forms are dolia, different types of jars, jugs,
and cups with high handle, and a variety of carinated bowls. The incised decoration is rela-
tively rare in the early phase, and quite frequent in the subsequent one. Early Mycenaean
pottery (LH I, II, and IliA) in considerable quantities is associated with Capo Graziano in
the settlements ofLipari-Acropolis, Filicudi-Capo Graziano, and Salina-Serro dei Cianfi. In
the advanced phase identification marks incised on local vessels make their first appearance
(Marazzi 1997). The villages comprise some tens of circular and oval huts with stone founda-
tion. In the village of Lipari Acropolis a larger oval structure was possibly used for cult activi-
ties. The only funerary evidence is a group of 30 cremations from Lipari, Contrada Diana.
The subsistence was based on arable agriculture, pastoralism (along with cattle and pig
breeding), fish, and molluscs. Lipari obsidian, and Sicilian day for pot-making, were among
the most important materials circulating in the archipelago.
The relevance of the Aeolian islands in the coastal trading system in this period is indicated by
the occurrence of Capo Graziano pottery in the Tyrrhenian area, at Vivara-Punta di Mezzogiorno,
in association with LH I-II material, at Luni sul Mignone in southern Etruria, and on the north-
ern and eastern coasts of Sicily (Tusa 1999: 447, Fig. 76). Intense relations with Malta are indicated
by-t1.e overall sirnilariry bet-ween the Capo Graziano and Tarxien cemetery facies.



A significant change from the Early Bronze Age, in which the Aeolian archipelago was cul-
turally autonomous from Sicily, is indicated by the Middle Bronze Age Thapsos-Milazzese
facies. This new archaeological culture extends over the whole territory of Sicily, the Aeolian

islands including Ustica, and the Poro promontory on the adjacent coast of Calabria. This
period coincides with the maximum intensity of sailings from the Aegean, with the partici-
pation of an east Mediterranean-Cypriot component. Calibrated radiocarbon dates from the
Milazzese village at Portella di Salina range between 1525-1320 cal BC (1a) and 1605-1260 cal
BC (2a) (Martinelli 2005: 289).
Thapsos-Milazzese pottery is a handmade impasto. The complete absence of painted dec-
oration, and some formal and functional similarities, probably indicate a relationship to the
RTV pottery repertoire. The forms are quite distinctive, with some local differences. In Sicily,
and especially in the eastern zone, they comprise large dolia, ceremonial bowls/jars on a high
flaring stand and with a horned plate, two-handled jars, narrow-necked jugs, bowls both
plain and on a high stand, deep cups with high handle, decorated by engraved patterns and
plastic cordons. The Aeolian repertoire does not include ceremonial vessels, and the most
frequent decorations are plain plastic cordons. Imported LH IliA and B pottery is found in
considerable quantity in the Aeolian Milazzese settlements; in Sicily it is concentrated in the
grave goods of some tombs in the eastern and southern area, and is also found in small
quantities in the settlement ofThapsos and in some of the western sites (DAgata 1997: 453).
In the eastern area both form and decoration of Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery are imitated
in the local unpainted impasto (D'Agata 2ooo). Maltese Borg in-Nadur pottery is quite fre-
quent in early Thapsos contexts on the eastern coast (Tanasi 2oo8a).
For Sicily, the marked decrease in the total number of sites compared to the Early Bronze
Age probably indicates a more centralized political and territorial organization, with the
main concentration in the east-central zone. Several sites are directly on the coast. The dwell-
ing structures are circular or rectangular huts with stone foundations; the two types may also
be combined. The tombs are plain grotticelle, with some more articulated structures with
ante-chamber and lateral niches. A new feature of these tombs, usually considered as an imi-
tation of the Mycenaean built or rock-cut tholos, is the ogival ceiling, often ending in a small
circular cavity (Tomasello 2004). To this period belongs also a small cemetery of individual
inhumations in large dolia found at Thapsos. '
Thapsos is the eponymous site of this facies in Sicily, located on the small peninsula of
Magnisi, some 10 km north of Siracusa (Fig. 36.3a). Although the settlement is still unpub-
lished, and the only systematic information from the cemeteries are those relative to Paolo
Orsi's excavations, this site has been the subject of several preliminary analyses and discus-
sions. It seems rather well established that it was an emporion, structurally related to the
international maritime trade system originating from the eastern Mediterranean and also
involving the Aegean. The settlement extends over an area of c.1,ooo by 300 m, with separate
cemetery cores to the north and south (Paolo Orsi's excavations), and in the southern zone of
the peninsula (more recent excavations by Voza).
lhree phases have been identified by the excavator (Voza 1999: 23-31):

Phase 1 (c.fifteenth-fourteenth century Be): northern settlement core, area A or 1.

Circular huts associated with small rectangular structures and connected by narrow
pathways. Earliest tombs imitate the tholos; the grave goods include local Thapsos
pottery along with imported LH IIIA1-2, Cypriot White Shaved and Base Ring II
pottery, glass, faience, and amber ornaments, probably also from the Aegean, and
Maltese Borg in-Nadur vessels. t.
Phase 2 (c.thirteenth-twelfth centuries Be): central settlement core, area B or 2,
organized by modules of rectangular rooms joining at right angles, with a central


,.,_ .... ---- .....

. Northern Zone

0 50m

FIG. 36.3 (a) The peninsula of Thapsos, on the eastern coast of Sicily, north of Siracusa; (b)
Plan of the Bronze Age settlement of Thapsos.
Source: Museo Archeologico Regionale "Paolo Orsi': Siracusa, by kind permission of the Assessorato dei
Beni Cultarali e dell'Identita Siciliana della Regione Siciliana - Palermo. All rights reserved.

open space or courtyard, and a few circular huts incorporated in the rectilinear
structures (Fig. 36.3b ). This kind of building plan and organization of space is not
found elsewhere in this period i~ the central Mediterranean. It has been compared
to the plans and corresponding spatial/functional organization of some Mycenaean
palaces, and, more recently, to the organization in 'blocks' of the Cypriot Bronze
Age cities (at emporia like Enkomi).
Phase 3 (c.eleventh-ninth centuries Be): there is no identifiable relation to the previous
settlement organization. The main archaeological features include Maltese pottery (late
Borg in-Nadur and Bahrija), along with local bronzes of late 'Ausonian' and Cassibile type.

Other Thapsos sites in this area are Ognina, Cozzo Pantano (hill settlement and cemetery),
Ortigia, Plemmirio, and Matrensa, in the area of the harbour of Siracusa, and Molinello di
Augusta. Inland sites include grotta Chiusazza, Floridia, Buscemi, Caltagirone, Colle S.
Mauro, Paterno, and a few settlements in the Ippari and Dirillo valleys. Coastal sites are also
present near Capo Passero (grotta Calafarina) and in the gulf of Gela (Santa Croce

Camarina). In the Agrigento area the main sites are Milena-Serra del Palco, Madre Chiesa,
Scirinda di Ribera, and S. Angelo Muxaro. A relevant role in Mediterranean trade may have
been carried out by Cannatello, a coastal site dating from the advanced Middle Bronze Age
and continuing in the Late Bronze Age. The buildings are circular and rectangular huts
within a circular stone enclosure. The finds include Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery, and a
fragment of oxhide ingot (De Miro 1999). Further west there are the settlements of Case
Pietra, Erbe Bianche, Marcita, Ulina-Monte Castellazzo, and Thapsos layers from caves on
the north-western coast. The funerary evidence consists of two tholos-type tombs (A and B)
at Milena-Monte Campanella: the grave goods comprise Thapsos and LH IIIB or C, pottery,
weapons, and a bronze bowl (La Rosa 19 82). Combinations of possibly Cypriot bronze bowls,
swords of the usual archaic type found in Sicily during the Middle and Late Bronze Age, and
both local and imported pottery, come from a tomb at Caldare-Monte S. Vincenzo, from a
burial in a natural cave at Capreria, and from the bronze hoard ofValledolmo (Palermo) (for
the rather general Cypriot parallels for Sicilian Middle and Late Bronze Age swords see Tusa
1999: Fig. 47; for the possibly Cypriot bowls, and for the general problem of Cypriot material
in the central Mediterranean see Vagnetti 1986; Graziadio 1997).
At Lipari the main Milazzese site is the village on the Acropolis, at Panarea it is the village of
Punta Milazzese, at Salina it is La Portella, and Serro dei Cianfi; at Filicudi the main site is the final
phase of the village of Montagnola di Capo Graziano. An important complex, systematically
excavated in the last few years, is the Faraglioni village at Ustica (Holloway and Lukesh 2001).
The only cemetery of Milazzese facies, consisting of some so inhumation burials in large
dolia, was found at Milazzo, Messina; two similar tombs have been found at Messina-
Paradiso, and three at Naxos. Other finds in north-eastern Sicily include a dumping area
from the hill settlement ofRomettaMessinese, and Milazzese pottery from Naxos.
The Aeolian settlements are relatively small villages, whose average population probably
did not exceed one to two hundred inhabitants. As regards both the selection of naturally
defended situations, and the hut structures, they are quite similar to the earlier ones. One pos-
sible exception is Portella di Salina, on a steep crest on the island's northern coast, which ~as
probably a specialized site for the collection of rainwater (Martinelli 2005). However, the
Milazzese communities performed some important economic functions, as is implied by the
increasing use of identification marks incised on differ en~ types oflocal vessel (Marazzi 1997).
Probably the main such function of the archipelago was the establishment of trade relation-
ships with the central and northern regions of the peninsula, aimed at the procurement of raw
materials, and possibly of finished artefacts. The most important evidence is a group of
discarded bronze artefacts from the Acropolis of Lipari, probably a founder's hoard, consist-
ing of a collection of Italian Middle and, mainly, Recent Bronze Age Peschiera-type bronzes,
along with Thapsos-Milazzese types and fragments of oxhide ingots (Moscetta 1988).
A different trend apparently developed in the southern Tyrrhenian area. From the advanced
phase of the Early Bronze Age, and increasingly during the Middle Bronze Age, the role of
Sicily and of the Aeolian islands in this maritime context seems to have undergone a radical
change from the earlier system of intensive coastal trade. The main archaeological indicators
are the shifting of the Aeolian settlements towards naturally defended positions, and the
transformation of the previously autonomous archipelago into a northwards extension of
Sicily. Moreover, two hints at increasingly hostile relationships in this area may be identified
on the southern coast of Calabria and in the Aeolian islands: first, the establishment of settle-
ment cores ofThapsos-Milazzese facies on the Poro pro:J;Uontory, which apparently coincided

with a decrease in the local Apennine occupation; and, second, the occurrence of pottery of
Apennine n1ainland type in limited quantity in Milazzese contexts both in Sicily and in the
Aeolian islands. The analysis of the Apennine pottery from Portella di Salina indicates that it
\Vas made both locally and in mainland Italy (Martinelli 2005: 279). Thus, this pottery might
be an indication of raids from the islands off the Italian coast, aimed at bringing back valua-
bles, possibly including people.



From the thirteenth century BC a new connection between Sicily, the Aeolian islands, and
mainland Italy, which expanded progressively until the Early Iron Age, radically changed the
role of these islands in the Mediterranean context.

The Initial Phase: Lipari Ausonian I (c.I250-I050 Be)

The beginnings of this phase at Lipari, and in north-east Sicily (Cavalier 2004), can be dated
around or somewhat before the mid thirteenth century BC, and are generally considered to
be the result of a specific historical event: an invasion from the peninsula, probably from the
coast of Calabria. The stratigraphic evidence on the Acropolis of Lipari is an extended fire,
which produced the total destruction of the Milazzese settlement. The subsequent Ausonian I
settlement was established in the same area. The new archaeological facies is a Sub-Apennine
aspect of Italian mainland type, with handmade undecorated impasto pottery, a high per-
centage of carinated open shapes, and plastic protrusions over rims and handles. A small
quantity of imported LH IIIB and IIIC pottery and a few local shapes of Sicilian Pantalica
type (Tusa 1999: 556, Fig. 2, lower row) indicate a limited continuity of the earlier system of
contacts and trade. The length of Ausonian I is marked archaeologically by the occurrence of
a small amount of pottery of Final Bronze Age (Proto-Villanovan) type, along with the mass
of Sub-Apennine. Ausonian I complexes in Sicily concentrate in the north -eastern zone: set-
tlement evidence from Milazzo, Rometta Messinese, Barcellona, Messina, Naxos (Albanese
Procelli 2003: 31), and a cremation cemetery at Milazzo, a typical Proto-Villanovan urnfield
(Tusa 1999: 563). The earliest bronzes are a fibula with two knots of an intermediate violin-
bow/stilted type, and narrow symmetrical razors ofPertosa type. The cemetery can probably
be dated to the twelfth-eleventh centuries BC. The Ausonian I settlement at Lipari was
destroyed by a new fire around the mid eleventh century BC.

The Initial Phase: The Sicilian Pantalica Culture,

Early (c.13th-1Ith Century BC)
The Late Bronze Age Pantalica culture is structurally related to the Thapsos-Milazzese tradi-
tion involving the integration of Aegean groups, which were apparently still present and

active in Sicily. Son1e significant changes include the shifting of the main centres from the
eastern coast to the interior; at the same time the focus of the Mediterranean connection
1noved from the eastern to the southern coast. On a wider Mediterranean scale, at least from
the thirteenth century Be, the east Mediterranean component of the international trade sys-
tem gradually superseded the Aegean one, and the most important connections towards the
Mediterranean far west were based in Sardinia. The Pantalica culture probably coincided
with the final phase of Thapsos-Milazzese. The major centres in Sicily's eastern and south-
eastern zone are Pantalica, Caltagirone, and Dessueri; for each, a few minor sites have been
identified in the adjacent territory (Tusa 1999: 575).
Pantalica, in the hinterland of Siracusa, occupies a wide plateau in the Anapo Valley; the
only building known, the so-called anaktoron, is a rectangular ashlar structure, divided into
seven rooms, one of which possibly contained a foundry. Around five thousand grotticella
tombs cut in t?e rocky hill slopes are divided into several large groups, dating from the Late
Bronze Age to the Greek colonization (Leighton 2011). Along with a majority of small rooms of
circular plan, there are also some larger and multiple ones. Individual burials were rare. The
cemeteries of Caltagirone (Catania) comprise around one thousandgrotticelle, often with the
ogival profile imitating the tholos. The main complex, Montagna di Caltagirone, has been
recently re-examined (Tanasi 2oo8b ). The settlement was in a strategic position relative to the
main natural routes connecting the eastern and southern coast, and the interior. The third cen-
tre, Monte Dessueri, was on a steep hill (Monte Maio) on the Gela Valley, at a short distance
from the southern coast. Some 1,500 grotticella tombs, divided into three cemeteries (Monte
Canalotti, Monte Dessueri, and Fastucheria), were identified by Paolo Orsi (Panvini 1997).

FIG.36-4 Some of the most common pottery shapes of the earliest phase of Pantalica. The
pottery is wheel turned, and the majority of the shapes have Aegean and Cypriot parallels.
The only possible import is the small painted jug in the lower row. *'
Source: Leighton 1999.

The funerary outfits from these sites comprise pottery, including some impressive cere-
Inonial jars on high stands, rather similar to the ones used in the Thapsos period (Fig. 36.4),
several bronze objects, including violin-bow, stilted, and arc fibulae with two knots, plain arc
fibulae, n1irrors, knives, razors, weapons, and golden rings, probably indicating important
political roles.
The local pottery is mostly wheel-turned; overall the repertoire is close especially to LH
IIIB and C, and, less precisely, to Cypriot forms (Leighton 1999: 174, Fig. 92; Tanasi 2005:
Plates 129 and 130 ). As regards metal artefacts, the weapons and the mirrors are considered
to be of Aegean or Cypriot inspiration, and golden rings have mainly Aegean parallels. The
fibula series is probably an Italian contribution to Sicilian metallurgy: the earliest type, the
violin -bow fibula with two knots, is among the most popular Peschiera bronzes, widely rep-
resented over the whole of Italy, and the Final Bronze Age stilted type is a specific product of
the metallurgy of southern Etruria, distributed especially along the central and southern
Tyrrhenian coast, and also present in the cemetery of Milazzo.
Pantalica sites in southern Sicily include the settlements of Sabucina and Montagna di
Polizzello (Caltanissetta); around Agrigento, the earliest tombs in the cemetery of S. Angelo
Muxaro, and the village ofScirinda with its rectangular buildings. In the cemetery of Anguilla
di Ribera (Alonghi and Gulli 2009 ), in the Corno valley, 32 chamber tombs with rounded or
ogival (tholos) ceilings and long corridors can be mainly attributed to the local Pantalica
facies. The grave goods include a few combinations of Thapsos and Pantalica pottery, a
majority of early Pantalica material, and a few groups dating from the Early Iron Age. Two
golden rings were found in tomb 15. In the western zone one of the few published complexes,
from Mokarta (Salemi, Trapani) is an interior hill site on the Fiume Grande Valley, with two
settlement cores (Cresta di Gallo and Castello della Mokarta), which probably continued
from the Middle Bronze Age to the Pantalica period, and two small cemeteries (Mannino
and Spatafora 1995). The 37 tombs of the cemetery ofCresta di Gallo comprise both the plain
and the ogival (tholos) type. The local Pantalica facies, also called Mokarta facies, is specific
to central and western Sicily (Mannino and Spatafora 1995: Fig. 34). Although this facies is a
simplified version of the eastern one, both the basic pottery and bronze types and the tombs'
architectural features are rather specific to the Thapsos-Pantalica tradition. It also seems
likely that the Late Bronze Age communities of central and western Sicily shared with the
main eastern centres-Pantalica and Caltagirone-the formal correlates of the highest polit-
ical roles.



The archaeological aspects that appeared at Lipari after the destruction by fire of the
Ausonian I settlement on the Acropolis has been called Ausonian II by Bernabo Brea and
Cavalier. The new facies is no longer dependent on the direct reproduction of Italian models,
but rather on a local elaboration integrating formal and functional features of both Italian
and Sicilian (Pantalica) origin. An important characteristic of the new facies is the system-

atic connection to the Italian mainland, especially Calabria, mainly as regards metal produc-
tion. Ausonian II complexes at Lipari include the Acropolis village and the cremation
cemetery of Piazza Monfalcone, with bronze, amber, and glass ornaments of Italian Proto-
Villanovan type.
As regards Sicily, the new connection with Italy can be identified in different forms and
areas (Albanese Procelli 2003: 31). A Final Bronze Age-Early Iron Age archaeological facies
that seems to be directly linked to Lipari's Ausonian II has been identified, generally from
surface finds, along the north-eastern coast. In eastern Sicily coastal sites include Monte di
Giove, Giardini Naxos (Messina), and Punta Castelluzzo (Siracusa); the main interior ones
are the hill settlement of Metapiccola di Lentini (Siracusa), the cemetery of Molino della
Badia-Madonna del Piano (Catania), and the Early Iron Agehill settlement and ce1netery of
Morgantina (Enna). As regards the main Pantalica centres, Caltagirone apparently came to
an end at the same time as the beginnings in the same region of the 'Ausonian' cemetery of
Madonna del Piano. At Pantalica and Dessueri, in the Early Iron Age an Ausonian facies
took the place of the traditional one. An Ausonian II facies is also present in the upper layers
of the settlement of Scirinda di Ribera.
Another Final Bronze Age-Early Iron Age development, which is found in a few sites on
the eastern coast of Sicily and in the interior, is a pottery repertoire of specifically local type,
in the Thapsos-Pantalica tradition, combined with a rich metal industry of Ausonian
character. This is found on the eastern coast at Cassibile (Turco 2000 ), south of Siracusa,
possibly at Thapsos and Cozzo del Pantano, and at Carcarella di Calascibetta (Enna).
The continuity of the Thapsos-Pantalica tradition was confined to western Sicily and the
S. Angelo Muxaro group (Spatafora 1996), from the Early Iron Age to the Archaic period. The
uninterrupted link to the local Middle to Late Bronze Age cultural development is identifiable
in the general formal and functional features of pottery production (Albanese Procelli 2003:
Plate xix), along with the use of architectural features and role markers that had been adopted
in Sicily as a result of the process of indigenous-Aegean integration: the ogival 'tholos' ceiling
of the chamber tombs, and the golden rings still repeating Aegean patterns. -
The economic implications of the Ausonian connection are rather clear, and are probably
related to the intensive exploitation of the mining resources of Calabria: between the Final
Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age the Sicilian metal indu~try in the Thapsos-Pantalica tra-
dition was totally superseded by a new 1\.usonian' production, with strong links to Calabria.
Throughout Sicily the new industry, which introduced significant technical and functional
changes along with a quantitative increase in the use of metal artefacts, was universally
adopted in both 'Ausonian' and 'local' contexts. Among the most important pieces of evi-
dence are the Sabucina workshop, a group of stone moulds for the production of weapons
and tools, mainly of 'Ausonian' type, and the generalized adoption of tanged and flanged
swords and fibulae of the so-called Sicilian type (Albanese Procelli 2ooo; 2003: 88).


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menti. Taranto: Istituto per la storia e larcheologia della Magna Grecia, 127-9.
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Athens, 2004. Liege-Austin: Universite de Liege.
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Iron Age. London: Duckworth.
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interpretation of the rock-cut monuments: American Journal of Archaeology us: 447-64.
Mannino, G. and Spatafora, E (1995). Mokarta. La necropoli di Cresta di Gallo, Supplemento
dei Quaderni del Museo Salinas, 1. Palermo: Regione Siciliana Assessorato dei Beni Culturali
e Ambientali e della Pubblica Istruzione.
Marazzi, M. (1997). 'Le "scritture eoliane": i segni grafici sulle ceramiche: in M. Marazzi and S.
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During the Bronze Age the process of social diversification, which had begun in the Copper
Age, continued throughout Europe, leading to the formation of complex societies. In Sardinia
(Fig. 37-1) this phenomenon was magnified by its being the second biggest island not only of
Italy but also of the Mediterranean (about 24,000 square km) and because of the distances
that separate it from other lands and islands (187 km from the Italian Peninsula, 270 km from
north Africa), with the exception of Corsica (n km over the Straits of Bonifacio); but these
are distances that could be overcome by individual or collective choice and determination,
above all in the Bronze Age. The possibility of access to Sardinia by chance can be discounted
and, perhaps as a result, the island's absence of the need for fortification in the Bronze Age, as
archaeological evidence increasingly demonstrates, is substituted by the evidence of control
of resources, systems of internal communication, sea routes, and landing places.
This is certainly the reason why Sardinia, as v1ell as other European regions, finds no place
in a 'world system'. In fact it is practically impossible to apply to this large island rigid or pre-
viously established patterns. Research carried out so far largely confirms this fact and has
investigated instead different forms and alternative solutions. Those currently identified, still
using archaeological evidence, show peculiarities unique in Europe, among which are the
island's privileged relationships, toward the eastern world with the Aegean and the east
Mediterranean, and toward the western world with the Iberian Peninsula. These relations
are not defined or uniform, but distinct and different in a surprising way, the result of specific
choices based on substantial information and not generically determined.
All available sources should be studied together and comparatively: pot styles, the typol-
ogy of metal objects, the extraordinary structure of the buildings, and the reciprocal links
between them. This should apply even if one's intention is to offer a historical reading. One
must use all the lines of evidence provided by archaeology, both directly from the data of
material culture and indirectly from internal and external comparisons, and make use of the
most recent discoveries.

FIG. 37.1 Map of Sardinia with principal sites mentioned in the text; 1. Arzachena (SS);
2. Olbia (SS); 3. Calangianus (SS); 4 Tempio (SS); 5. Porto Torres (SS); 6. Muros (SS); 7 Ossi
(SS); 8. Siligo (SS); 9 Florinas (SS); 10. Ittireddu (SS); n. Bonnanaro (SS); 12. Torralba (SS);
13. Olmedo (SS), 14. Alghero (SS); 15. Mara (SS); 16 . Orosei (NU); 17. Dorgali (NU);
18. Orune (NU); 19. Oliena (NU); 20. Fonni (l'JU); 21. Meana Sardo (NU); 22. Sorradile
(OR); 23. Bortigali (NU); 24. Silanus (NU); 25. Paulilatino (OR); 26. Cabras (OR); 27. Esterzili
(NU); 28. Orroli (NU); 29. Barumini (CA); 30. Mogoro (OR); 31. G~nnosfanadiga ( CA);
32. Decimoputzu (CA), 33 Gonnesa (CA),_34 Sarroch (CA).
Legend: Cagliari: CA, Oristano: OR, Nuoro: NU, Sassari: SS. Map: Joanna Pore,
Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University.

Tribute is due to the great Sardinian archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu, who proposed and
continually updated the complex cultural framework of prehistoric and protohistoric
Sardinia over many decades (Lilliu 2003). His reconstructions and hypotheses have been
modified and in some cases changed completely, but no one has been able to match fiis
breadth of knowledge in Sardinian archaeology.


The relative chronology of Bronze Age Sardinia is now based on the solid foundations of a relia-
ble and continually re-analysed pottery typology (Campus and Leonelli 2ooo; 2oo6). On the one
hand it is linked to nuragic pottery discovered at the harbour site ofKomrnos in Crete (Watrous
1989; Watrous, Day, and Jones 1998), at Cannatello near Agrigento inSicily(Vanzetti2004), and on
the Aeolian island of Lipari. On the other hand it is associated with Mycenaean pottery ofLH III
A2 to IIIB and IIIC, found in the nuraghi (stone towers) Arrubiu-Orroli (Vagnetti and LoSchiavo
1993), Antigori-Sarroch (Ferrarese Ceruti 1982), and others. This pottery comes from local con-
texts that relate it to the building and subsequent use of the monuments. The infrequency with
which metal objects and pottery are found together, except for a few cases ofbronze hoards in pots
(Campus and Leonelli 1999 ), makes for considerable difficulties.
Strong support for the dating of metal objects derives from the similarities between Italian,
Iberian, and Cypriot artefacts and the local typologies (LoSchiavo, Macnamara, and Vagnetti
1985). Moreover, recent research on nuragic sanctuaries, which are the preferred sites for the
deposition ofbronze offerings (Nieddu 2007; Manunza 2008), provides valuable evidence of
associations and stratigraphical details, particularly for the bronze figurines, parallel to Late
Cypriot III production.
As far as absolute chronology is concerned, there are now good data and critical assessments
(Tykot 1994), comparisons with Aegean chronology (Balmuth and Tykot 1998), and the results
of research on material from stratigraphic surveys (Torres, Ruiz-Galvez, and Rubinos 2004).
However, as some analyses have shown, for crucial periods many uncertainties persist, and for
these the best approach is still relative chronology, combining typology and find associations.
Since the earliest Mycenaean finds in Sardinia are associated with local pottery (surface finds at
Mitza Purdia-Decimoputzu and stratified at the Arrubiu -Orroli nuraghe ), there is confirmation
that the Nuraghi Golden Age began between the end of the Middle Bronze Age and the begin-
ning of the Recent Bronze Age. At Decimoputzu the surface association is with 'grey nuragic' pot-
tery (or ~ntigori type'), whereas at Arrubiu-Orroli in the foundation layer of the central tower, in
the courtyard and in tower C, the association is also with shallow bowls ( teglie) and pyxides with
flat, internal rim, decorated with impressed dots, of a type that is considered late by comparison
with the metope pottery, and conternporarywith the beginning of the a pettine pottery.
Different pottery styles of Recent Bronze Age 1 and 2 are increasingly being defined, as
well as that between Final Bronze Age 1 and 2, which, with its link to monumental building,
allows a subdivision of phases to be recognized, above all in the south and in the Oristano
region. On the other hand, metallurgical production indicates the opposite. Throughout
Bronze Age Sardinia, there is no local differentiation between or regional specialization in
metal artefacts, as happened in the preceding period.
It is more difficult to fix the chronology of the end of the nuragic period. At present it is
agreed that throughout the Recent Bronze Age there is a trend of development that
includes at least the beginning of the Final Bronze Age (FBA 1). At the start of the final
phase of the RBA no more nuraghi are being built, while restoration work seems to have
stopped in the 'intermediat~ phase' of the FBA (FBA 2), yet this is not evidence of a final
collapse in the culture but of important changes, the strengthening-if such a thing is pos-
sible-of an already thriving economy. In short, it is a socio-economic process, one that
was growing fast and always looking for new markets, right up to the end in the Early Iron
Age (Campus and Leonelli 2010).

The Early Bronze Age: An Age of Upheavals

Sardinia is no different from the rest of Europe when it comes to formulating an organic
definition of the Early Bronze Age. The Chalco lithic culture of Monte Claro occupies roughly
the second half of the third millennium BC, covering the whole island with strongly
characterized living, funerary, and ritual aspects; pottery styles allow regional subdivisions.
The subsequent events, which fall between the end of the third and the beginning of the sec-
ond millennium, are still unexplained: there is the appearance of some of the material aspects
typical of the Bell Beaker 'culture', with a widespread prevalence of pottery finds; and the
spread of the so-called Bonnanaro A culture or archaeological facies of Corona Moltana,
from the area situated in the historical region of the Meilogu in which the Domus de Janas
('House of the Fairies/Witches') appear, where for the first time typical materials of this cul-
ture were identified, perhaps datable between 2200 and 1900 cal BC (Early Bronze Age I).
In short, the evidence points to a wide cultural diffusion: the peculiar rituals amongst
which burial in monumental tombs with reused anthropomorphic menhirs may be men-
tioned (in at least two cases, Nurallao-Aiodda and Isili-Murisiddi); the extensive distribu-
tion of the most typical pottery shapes; the appearance of metal; the spread of the practice of
cranial trepanation; together with the small number of settlements, possibly small farms
scattered over wide areas (Perra 2009 ). These factors lead to the conclusion that the archaeo-
logical facies ofBonnanaro A is 'formative: an ongoing process.
The consideration of these multiple factors may have inclined scholars in the past to speculate
that in Early Bronze I an elaboration of the elements that subsequently constituted the nuragic
civilization, including the erection of the first nuraghi, took place. At present this view is open to
criticism, since it is not based on any typical finds, either in the nuraghi or in the Giants' tombs.
By contrast, much progress has been made in identifying another archaeological facies, that ofS.
Iroxi, named from the artificial cave tomb ofDecimoputzu where the majority of the finds have
been inade, and which have now been dated to the second phase of the Early Bronze Age (EBA
2). In this tomb around 6o indviduals were identified, some of them buried in a crouched posi-
tion, together with objects made of arsenical copper such as a large number of rhomboid awls,
pins, punches (punteruoli), and needles, as well as 5 daggers and 13 swords, whose shape is similar
to the Argaric swords of the Iberian Peninsula (see Chapter 33). Metallurgical analysis has con-
firmed the presence of characteristic Sardinian copper, and therefore local manufacture. The
analytical data are confirmed by the presence in the same hypogeum of weapons ofvarious sizes,
small and larger daggers, and short and long swords (LoSchiavo 1992a). .
In the Bingia le Monti-Gonnostramatza tomb, a S. Iroxi phase covers a collapse layer
under which lie Bonnanaro deposits. Another interesting stratified sequence is in a tomb in
the cemetery of the Domus de Janas at Montessu-Villaperuccio (unpublished excavations by
E. Atzeni and R. Forresu).
In contrast to the abundant and distinctive production of n1etal, the pottery of the S. Iroxi
phase is still scarce and not distinctive in shape. has nevertheless been identified in
room alpha at Li Lolghi Arzachena, a chamber tomb made of orthostats and stone paving,
preceding the Giants' tomb.
There are still no indications of settlement in the S. Iroxi facies. In the funerary rituals a
difference can be seen from the preceding Bonnanaro A phase: the primary deposition is by
crouched inhumation, with the grave goods showing stratification and a particular stress bn
weapons, pointing to the more important social role of the warrior.
In conclusion, it can be said for the Early Bronze Age that 'small groups dispersed throughout
the territory to form single village groupings, organized along lines of kinship, which were

apparently self-sufficient and autonomous' (Perra 2009: 360) were present in Sardinia; it seems
possible to recognize the socio-economic forms of lineage societies. However, it is best not to
force this idea too far, for various reasons. These include the wide distribution and differentiation
ofthe pottery shapes, including contacts with the outside world that can be seen in the Bonnanaro
A1 facies; the explosion oflocal metallurgical production, strongly influenced by Iberian models
and identified in the S. Iroxi EBA 2 facies; and the fact that the following Sa Turricula MBA 1
facies, which inherited many Early Bronze Age cultural aspects, is also the immediate predeces-
sor of the nuragic civilization. All of these factors indicate that the complexity and distinctiveness
of the island's cultural evolution was greater than has been imagined hitherto.



Originally the Bonnanaro culture was divided into two distinct aspects: Bonnanaro A, men-
tioned above, and Bonnanaro B or the Sa Turricula facies, from the name of the site (still
largely unknown) in the district of Muros (Ferrarese Ceruti 1981a). Of the vast settlement
located on the steep southern slope of Mount Tudurighe, only Hut no. 1 has been explored
and published in a very preliminary way. The village was dominated by a nuragic tower, while
the Funtana 'e Casu dolmen was located nearby at a lower altitude, in which a few sherds
attributable to this facies (still unpublished) were apparently found.
In Sa Turricula there are elements of continuity such as a fragment of cuenca (hemispheri-
cal bowl) with Bell Beaker decoration, discovered in the hearth of Hut no. 1 (Ferrarese Ceruti
1978: Fig. 113), and a small simple dagger with round base and two rivet-holes, made of arseni-
. cal copper (Ferrarese Ceruti 1981a: Plate LXXIIb bottom left; analysis in Atzeni et al. 2005:
118-19 ), in addition to the survival of many Bonnanaro A shapes, such as the sharply angled
bowls of truncated conical shape with 'elbow' handles. There are also new shapes destined to
have a long life, such as shallow bowls. In addition, some sherds decorated with ribs and round
bosses, the so-called a nervature ('ribbed') pottery (Middle Bronze Age 1/2), have been found.
From the point of view of bronze typology there is obvious continuity in some cultural
elements between the Early Bronze Age and the full nuragic period, the strongest of which is
represented by the large flanged axes. These tools, in their earliest form, characterized by a
large size, straight sides, and very marked edges, are found throughout the island and are
associated not only with the nuraghi but also with the Giants' tombs. They are very similar to
a type found on the mainland in the Early Bronze Age in the Lazio area: the Sezze type (actu-
ally called the 'Sezze-Orosei type' from the first Sardinian site where it was identified:
Carancini and Peroni 1999; Lo Schiavo 1992b ). While the mainland axes quickly change,
acquiring a notched base, sinuous sides, and developed flanged edges tending to small
'wings', in Sardinia the shape changes little and remains typical throughout the Bronze Age.
The same phenomenon of contact with the Italian Peninsula is attested by the small disc-
headed pin from the settlement site of Su 'e Predi Giaccu-Meana Sardo in the Barbagia of
Ollolai, associated with pottery shapes that can be attributed to the final phase of the Middle
Bronze Age (Perra: pers. comm.), while the much larger disc-headed pins on the mainland
are dated to the Early Bronze Age (Carancini and Peroni 1999 ). The start of the relationship

between Sardinia and the mainland should therefore be placed between the end of the Early
Bronze Age and the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age, within the overall framework of
the Sa Turricula culture, which during its long chronological and cultural evolution acquires
and develops influences from both inside and outside Sardinia.
The 'ribbed' pottery, which hitherto-rather than an archaeological facies in itself-has
been thought to represent a style oflargely funerary use, has been found in the Giants' tombs
of Gallura and Dorgalese, which suggests that the elaborate and monumental orthostatic
architecture with an upright monolith could have been created in the first phase of the
Middle Bronze Age. As for the nuraghi, the presence and density of them in Middle Bronze
Age 3 leads to the tentative conclusion that the formation both of the 'corridor nuraghi' or
'proto-nuraghi: sometimes with an embryonic tho los chamber, and of the tho los nuraghi,
together with or perhaps even preceded by villages, can be placed in the MBA 2 period, in
parallel with the characteristic Giant's tombs (Ferrarese Ceruti 1981a).
The pottery style ofS. Cosima or of the metope'pottery (MBA 3), from the Giants' tomb of
Gonnosfanadiga, where it was named for the first time (Ugas 1981), has as its characteristic
shape the so-called pyxis or large earthenware pot with a flat, internal rim, decorated on the
rim and the shoulder with incised dotted triangles and plastic ribs, often in square-shaped or
metope patterns. This pottery was found in, among other places, the nuraghi at Brunku
Madugui-Gesturi, Sa Fogaia-Siddi, Su Mulinu-Villanovafranca, in the Giants' tombs of
Marghine-Planargia, and on the Abbasanta plateau.
In metallurgy the simple forms of awl and rhomboid punch continue without typological
changes in the Giants' tombs, where evidently they had the function of securing the shroud.
Mention has already been made of the small disc-headed pin at Su 'e Predi Giaccu-Meana
Sardo, and of the large flanged axes of the 'Sezze-Orosei' type found here and there throughout
the island and concentrated in two sites, the first relating to the Sisine-Nule nuraghe and the
second to an unidentified Giant's tomb at Ilbono (LoSchiavo 1992b: the 'Nule-Ilbono type').
As for weapons, the few examples found so far are the simple daggers with rounded heel at
Siniscola and Settimo S. Pietro, and the dirks at Su Mulinu-Villanovafranca (Ferrarese Ceruti
and Lo Schiavo 1991-2). The find of the two tiny rat-tanged daggers with rivet-hole on the
shoulder from the Giant's tomb at Is Lapideddas-Gonnosno reinforces the assumption of
local production, under the influence of central European Pepinville and Arco types, of at
least one part of the weapons in the Ottana hoard, which still lacks a convincing provenance
and classification (LoSchiavo zoo sa: 280~3).
The 'corridor nuraghi' or 'pseudo-nuraghi' (or even 'proto-nuraghi') have narrow internal
rooms ('corridors') of limited extent when compared with the thickness of the stone walls
and the covering of flat lintel blocks, the main function of which seems to be to create a pow-
erful structure with good views from the top. Some maintain that these are the earliest forms
of nuraghe, but this is not proven: these constructions are frequent mainly in granite envi-
ronments, where the walled structure fits unevenly onto the rocky outcrop. There are also
nuraghi of mixed shape, the result of successive additions, with corridors and tholos, for
example the Talei-Sorgono, Cuccurada-Mogoro, Serucci-Gonnesa, Majore-Tempio nur-
aghi, or even with tho los and corridor as at Palmavera-Alghero, or Albucciu-Arzachena.
The basic shape of the so-called tho los nuraghe is that of a truncated cone topped by an
overhanging walkway supported by stone brackets; in the commonest type, inside the circu-
lar chamber three niches open opposite the entrance; in the passage that runs through tlie
thickness of the wall there is a niche on the right, and on the left a spiral staircase rises to the

upper floor or to the walkway. TI1ere are numerous variations and exceptions for each of
these features. TI1e covering of the internal rooms is usually a cupola vault (tholos), or more
exactly layered rings of stones placed one on top of the other with decreasing diameter.
Detailed studies and structural and functional analyses have excluded the idea that Minoan-
Mycenaean and nuragic tholoi are part of the same architectural tradition (Cavanagh and
Laxton 1987).
From the technical point of view, it has now been established that, even in the case of the
simplest structures, the construction of the nuraghi was a complex operation requiring pre-
cise planning and much organization of the workforce.

Giants' Tombs and Ceremonial Areas

The characteristic burials of the nuragic age are called 'Giants' tombs' because they are all col-
lective tombs, often very large in size, the largest being about 30 rn long and the smallest from
5 to 8 m (Fig. 37.2). They consist of an elongated and often paved burial chamber, the burial
mound contained by a stone plinth, with an apsidal rear part and a ritual area opposite defined
by a semicircular structure called the 'exedra'; and a large monolith or stele in the centre, in
some cases reaching the spectacular height of 4 m, with a small entrance at the bottom (por-
tello ). These types of Giants' tombs are concentrated in central and northern Sardinia,
although they are not unknown in the south. A peculiarity of nuragic Sardinia is the fact that
in these monumental tombs the primary collective burials are always without grave goods of
any kind; selected individual burials are never found and there is no apparent selection by age
or gender, still less social or family distinction, in allowing admission to burial in the tomb.
On the other hand, from the Middle Bronze Age on, the Giants' tombs had a role as places
of worship, both for their size and their visibility, and for the presence of the ceremonial area
in front, dedicated to collective rituals for the dead, and a designated place for collective ritu-
als that were intended to celebrate the ancestors and to single out the high descent of the
local group. True temple structures are not known in this period; in fact the interpretation of
the so-called 'little temple' at Malchittu-Arzachena has been disputed.
The nuraghi and the Giants' tombs are both territorial markers and contribute to the 'for-
mation/transformation of the nuragic landscape' (Perra 2010 ). From communities based on
kinship in the preceding period, a remarkable aggregating force takes shape, not just quanti-
tative, as is evidenced by the spread of settlement nuclei, but above all qualitative, reflected in
the concentration of a common effor,t to erect great monuments in dominant positions on
natural outcrops and on the edges of the plateaux (giare), where the elevation provides wide
visibility. To the Middle Bronze Age megalithic structures one may attribute first and fore-
most a function in territorial control-and thus also control of resources.


I cannot find a more appropriate expression than 'Nuraghi Golden Age'.... The most outstand-
ing and specific phenomenon ofphase III consists in the origin and the development of the com-
plex nuraghe ... (Lilliu 2003: 413; translation LoSchiavo)

0 5 10 0 5 10
I ' t t I I I I I I I I , I ) t ' t I ! I I

0 5 10
I ! ! ! ! I I I I I I

FIG.37.2 Plans of Giants' tombs. 1. Pascharedda-Calangianus (SS); 2. Bidistili-Fonni (NU);

3. Domu 's Orku-Siddi (CA). Various sources.

General Characteristics
Despite the fact that earlier absolute chronologies are now out of date, the contents of
Giovanni Lilliu's phase III correspond ahnost entirely to the period that is today placed
between the end of the Middle Bronze Age (MBA 3B), the Recent Bronze Age (RBA), and the
early part of the Final Bronze Age (FBA 1/2), in which the nuragic civilization reaches its
height. His telling remark thus continues to hold true.
The nuraghi occur in a growing number of complex forms: multi-towered, polylobate,
regular or irregular, with powerful stone enclosures and bastions (Fig. 37-3). The towers
number from one to five, variously positioned, linked one to another by powerful bulwark
walls inside which are passages and rooms. Between the central and the added towers, court-
yards open off that allow communication between the ~arious parts. This would have led to

the construction of two-tower nuraghi (for example, at Orolo-Bortigali and many others),
three-tower nuraghi (Santu Antine-Torralba, Madrone-Silanus, and others), four-tower
nuraghi (Su Nuraxi-Barumini, Sa Serra-Orroli, and others), and n1ulti-towered nuraghi (the
only surviving one being Arrubiu-Orroli; Fig. 37-4). In some cases, an outer ring of towers
are linked together by walls, forming an outer enclosure (antemurale). In the villages of this
period, round huts with high stone foundation walls, often of remarkable thickness, and
adapted to hold up a conical roof of poles covered with intertwined bundles of brushwood,
are grouped around a central space, which sometimes encloses wells, cisterns, and places for
collecting water (Serra Orrios-Dorgali; Su Putzu-Orroli). In the latest period (FBA 2-3)
multi-chambered structures appear, placed around a courtyard (Su Putzu-Orroli; Serucci-
Tombs retain their essential characteristic of a large chamber for collective burials, with
an elongated mound with apsidal end and a semicircular area in front intended for collective
rituals, but the building technique and the structure change.
Temple structures appear and increase rapidly, most frequently in the canonical form of
Well-Ten1ples and Sacred Springs (Fig. 37.5), but there are also megaron temples, 'rotundas',
'Rooms for making bread' (Vani della Panificazione), lustral basins with long stone channels,
and paved ceremonial areas with benches. These forms spread rapidly all over the island,
taking on elaborate and sophisticated shapes.
The characteristic building technique that appears in the Recent Bronze Age is the so-
called 'isodomic' construction (in regular layers), with perfect joints, squared corners, verti-
cal walls, straight sides, and smooth floors. This stoneworking, in basalt, trachyte, limestone,
and sandstone, is widespread and not exclusive to the temple and funerary monuments, but
also found in the upper structures of the nuraghi.
In this mature phase of nuragic cultural development, the full management of resources
can be seen, through the visible and direct control of the territory, established by the contin-
uous erection of complex nuraghi, by extending the villages, even independently from the
nuraghi (for example, the territories of Oliena and Dorgali, or the hinterland of the Gulf of
Cagliari), by locating and sometimes increasing the number of tombs in the most important
spots (for example, the territory of Esterzili), and thus by unifying local communities in a
concentrated and strategic building effort. This was not a random expansion, but one that
was hierarchically planned within regional systems.
A fundamental part of the management of nuraghi is that of food resources. In the Recent
and Final Bronze Ages cereal production increased exponentially, as can be seen by the erec-
tion of storage silos inside the nuraghi (as at Arrubiu-Orroli), and above all in the Final
Bronze Age by the increase in the production of large containers and open-shape bowls that
could have been used for measuring out quantities of cereals (Cossu et al. 2003). As far as
wine is concerned, the recent and extensive excavations at Sa Osa-Cabras revealed the
remains of grapes in such quantities and of such varieties as to indicate advanced cultivation
during the Recent/Final Bronze Age transition (Usai 2010). Only a few years before, it had
been hypothesized that the characteristics of Recent Bronze Age pottery would indicate a
specific function of containers for highly prized liquids, for which a particular compactness
and surface treatment was required. In fact, 'slate-grei (grigio-ardesia) pottery (Ferrarese
Ceruti 1981b) or 'nuragic grey' pottery appears, made from impasto and baked at very high
temperatures, with metal-effect shiny-grey external surfaces. This pottery is characteristic of
the Antigori -Sarroch nuraghe, where it is found in stratigraphic association with Mycenaean

. .-::
~ . I

t_. .,-~
- -t

/ .---/
. ..

. .__ ;;~/


FIG. 373 Plans of nuraghi: 1. Brunku Madugui-Gesturi (CA), plan (1.1) and reconstruction
(1.2); 2. S. Sabina-Silanus (NU); 3 Nuraghe Arrubiu-Orroli: projection (3.1) and plan (3.2).
Various sources.

pottery, but it is also spread through the whole of central-southern Sardinia. The high quality
of the surfaces and the complete lack of porosity lead one to conclude that the pots must have
been used to hold oil or wine. Between the RBA and the FBA the first types of pitchers or
ewers also begin to appear.
Nuragic civilization is notably homogeneous from one end of the island to the other. This
obviously does not indicate a lack of resources or cultural immobility but the contrary, rich-
ness and a considerable variety of local choices. The different pottery styles should undoubt-
edly be taken into account but not invested with too much significance, because such
distinctions may depend on geography, the prevalent rock type, the presence of forest, soil
characteristics, land use, and so on. All things considered, the cultural homogeneity of nur-
agic civilization is remarkable, lasting throughout the island up.til the final phase.

FIG. 37.4 Above: Nuraghe Arrubiu (excavated by the author). Below a reconstruction of
the site.
Reconstruction: Ing. G. Todde.

From Simple Nuraghi to Complex Nuraghi

It was once thought that co,mplex nuraghi were built simply by adding more towers to a central
tower. In fact the excavation and detailed study of the Arrubiu-Orroli nuraghe (see Fig. 37-4),
among others, has established the existence of real and complex planning, not only in the
choice of location but also in the laying-out of the monument plan on the ground, the

1 2 3

Plans ofNuragic temples: 1. 'Megaron' temple ofDomu de Orgia-Esterzili (NU); 2,

FIG. 375
Sacred Well of Cuccuru Nuraxi-Settimo S.Pietro (CA); 3 Sacred Spring of Su Tempiesu-
Orune (NU); 4 'Round' temple of Sa Corona Arrubia-Genoni (NU); 5 'Round' temple of
Su Monte-Sorradile (OR).
Various sources.

evaluation of the need for foundations, the research for and preparation of building materi-
als, and the estimation of the workforce needed.
Above all, in this phase the reason for such a large number of imposing constructions
(roughly eight thousand is no exaggeration), often close to one another in different geo-
graphical and topographical situations but with a considerable uniformity of general struc-
tural features and material culture, should be sought in the socio-economic context. This
shows that environmental conditions were on average quite favourable; there was a raised
and widespread level of well-being and a territorial community-based social organization,
with a strong inherited awareness of earlier kinship traditions. ~
The nuraghi therefore would have been erected by means of a communal, concentrated
effort by the local workforce and in quite a brief span of time, without the need to bother about

subsistence resources, which were readily available. Importance and prestige within the social
group might be linked to the size, number, and complexity of the nuragic towers, which func-
tioned almost as status symbols, in a logical process of territorial occupation and control.
This hypothesis is confirmed during the Final Bronze Age (FBA 2/3), when in response to
the end of nuraghi building, their symbolic value increases, as shown not only in the change
in the use of the monuments (their transformation into centres for gathering in surplus pro-
duction, as with Arrubiu-Orroli and Serucci-Gonnesa), but also in their sacralization (Su
Mulinu-Villanovafranca), the reproduction in miniature of both simple and complex nur-
aghi in stone and bronze, and their location in sanctuaries or villages at the centre of Capanne
delle Riunioni ('Reunion or Meeting Huts: for example Palmavera-Alghero, Punta 'e Onossi-

The Mycenaean and Cypriot Connection

The nature of the relationship between Sardinia and the Aegean world is not yet completely
dear. So far no finds have been made in the island relating to the earliest phases of Mycenaean
expansion, as seen in the Aeolian islands and at Vivara (LH IA-LH IIB), and then spreading
from the Adriatic to the Ionian islands, the Tyrrhenian Sea, and Sicily (LH IIC-LH IIIA1)
(Vagnetti 2010 ). In Sardinia the earliest finds, dated to LH III A2, come from two southern
regions, both inland (especially the second one), and some way from each other. They con-
sist of valuable artefacts of different types: one being a small hippopotamus-ivory head with
a boar's tusk helmet at Mitza Purdia-Decimoputzu; and an almost complete small alabastron
found in fragments in the foundation level of the five-towered nuraghe at Arrubiu-Orroli,
chemica-physical and mineralogical analysis confirming an Argolid provenance. While
these are isolated instances, they nevertheless point towards the existence of previous rela-
tionships, now rapidly on the increase.
The change in the direction of Sardinia's relationship with other cultures that can be seen
in the course of the eleventh century Be, from the close connections with the Cypriot and the
Aegean world to that with the Iberian Peninsula, does not, however, indicate an interruption
or a replacement of metallurgical traditions. The types of nuragic bronze tools, weapons,
ornaments, containers, and miniature figurines continue with minor differences up to the
end of the Bronze Age and beginning of the Iron Age. The Nuraghi Golden Age is thus both
fundamentally homogeneous and culturally extraordinarily rich and varied.
The same type of socio-economic and organizational management that was necessary for
the construction of the complex nuraghi in the context of a territorial system is needed to
plan long- distance sailing and trading. For this reason evaluation of the building of the nur-
aghi cannot be separated from that of metallurgical production, nor should mastery of navi-
gational techniques and knowledge of sea routes and landmarks be underestimated.
It is therefore to the period corresponding to the end of the Middle Bronze Age (MBA 3B),
and to the elaboration of the complex nuraghe model, that we can date a change of course:
from the adoption on Sardinia of models inspired by mainland Italy to those of the Aegean
and-particularly for metallurgy-Cypriot models. On the other hand, the dating to the end
of the fourteenth century Be of the Uluburun shipwreck, with its rich cargo, the major part
consisting of copper and tin ingots but having on board a sword of Sicilian type (Pertosa B2
or C: Bettelli 2006), the presence of oxhide ingots at Cannatello and Thapsos in Sicily, and

the presence of nuragic pottery at Cannatello (Sicily), Kommos (Crete), and at Pyla-
Kokkinokre:mos on (:yprus, all show that at the end of the fourteenth century and in the
thirteenth-twelfth centuries reciprocal Mediterranean connections were firmly established,
and that nuragic Sardinia was an active partner in them.
The 'ox-hide' ingots (conventionally 'oxhide'), so-called because of their characteristic
rectangular shape with more or less prominent 'ears: weigh on average between 25 and 30 kg
and measure about 66 x 44 em (Ozieri). Marks were stamped on the ingots while hot or chis-
elled when cold, identified as being pre-alphabetic and alphabetic marks of the eastern
Mediterranean. In Sardinia, after the first discovery made at Serra Ilixi-Nuragus in 1857 by
the great Sardinian archaeologist Giovanni Spano, the number of such finds has considera-
bly increased. The places where the ingots have been discovered, either whole or as frag-
ments, at present number 35 and are spread over the whole island, including the interior and
the mountainous districts (LoSchiavo 2009).
The distribution of ox_hide ingots beyond Sardinia is extremely wide and includes the
Levantine coasts, Asia Minor, the Black Sea, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Sicily, the Aeolian islands,
as well as a mould found at Ras Ibn-Rani in Syria, and pictorial representations on Egyptian
tombs at Thebes, Karnak, and Medinet Habu. Fragments have been identified in a hoard in
Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. In the west, the highest concentration is in Sardinia, where
the ingots are most frequently found in temples and sanctuaries. There are two complete
ingots from Corsica and southern France. Production in Cyprus is dated from the fourteenth
to the eleventh centuries BC. Since it has not yet been possible to prove local nuragic produc-
tion, the conclusion that they are Cypriot products holds good for Sardinia as well as other
areas, though obviously their use locally may have persisted somewhat longer.
It seems evident that in the Bronze Age nuragic Sardinia was a privileged market for
Cypriot copper, prized not only for the advantage of having metal which was already refined
but also for the opportunity to meet specialized artisans in order to learn about new tech-
nologies linked to the new quality of the copper, that is, highly purified (Cu 97 per cent to 99
per cent) copper from sulphide ores through a complex process of refining, already availa-
ble in massive ingots. It is not unreasonable to suggest that together with copper, Sardinia
also imported tin via Cyprus. It has been known for some time that this was the route along
which the first knowledge of iron was acquired, although ~ts use was not widespread (Lo
Schiavo 2oosb).
The arrival of oxhide ingots and tools for metalworking are not isolated episodes of trade
and importation. On the contrary, the oxhide ingots were the carriers of the new metallurgi-
cal technology and at the same time of a 'new wave' in other spheres and techniques. It was
not just a matter of similarities in the form o{the equipment for working metal (hammers,
shovels, tongs), but of the whole complex of metallurgical technology. This involved specific
knowledge intimately bound up with the successive flourishing of an extraordinary level of
production: the manufacture of tools, weapons, and ornaments, in both stone and clay
moulds; the creation of bronze vessels either by the hammering of sheet metal or by shaping
them using the lost-wax technique, and then applying massive handles to the sheet bronze;
the early acquaintance with iron. These factors constitute the body of technological knowl-
edge that nuragic Sardinia took from Cyprus, right from the earliest stages of contact between
the two islands, which archaeological evidence increasingly puts at the beginning of the
Recent Bronze Age (c. thirteenth to the first half of the twelfth century BC), a period during
which local production improves exponentially and in a completely original way.

Despite the strong Cypriot influence in nuragic Sardinia, there was no break or radical
change in the system of basic values: in1pressive monuments for the living and the dead, with
highly visible, collective burials without grave goods; simple and largely undecorated pot-
tery; no interest in personal orna1nents or in the signs of rank; no attraction to gold or silver
despite the presence of abundant supplies of silver (already known in prehistoric times);
ivory hardly known and then only for functional uses such as handles; and other aspects of
the local value system.

The Tomb, the Temple, and the Sword

The Giants' tombs in 'isodomic' construction are a development of older orthostatic tombs,
and are distinctive for the careful working of the stone blocks that are set in regular courses,
progressively overhanging one over the other inside the chamber. They are built in regular
layers both in the chamber and on the facade of the exedra, at the centre of which the archi-
traved entrance opens, either with no stele or with a stele a dentelli (scalloped or indented)
(for example, Biristeddi-Dorgali and Seleni-Lanusei).
The nuragic structures intended for worship are varied, but those that occur most fre-
quently are linked to springs: the Well Temples and the Sacred Springs (see Fig. 37.5). The
Well Temples consist of a narrow staircase leading down to the level of the water, which is
enclosed in the shaft of the well and covered by a tholos-type roof (Sa Testa-Olbia; in perfect
isodomic style: S. Cristina-Paulilatino, Predio Canopoli-Perfugas, S. Vittoria-Serri, and
many others). In the Sacred Springs the water is collected almost at surface level in a simple
basin, sometimes covered with a small tholos. Both types of temple are preceded by a paved
atrium and side benches. One ofthe most elegant and elaborate examples of Sacred Springs
is Su Tempiesu -Orune.
Other sacred buildings are not linked to springs, even though large and small basins and
channels can be found on all of them, indicating lustral rituals. The 'Megaron' Temples are so
called because they have a rectangular plan sometimes divided up by internal partitions, and
with pronaos and opistodomos (Serra Orrios-Dorgali, Domu de Orgia-Esterzili, S~rcu 'e is
Forros-Villagran de Strisaili, Su Romanzesu-Bitti, etcetera). Rotundas are round-plan build-
ings with a tholos covering a refined isodomic structure, of various kinds and dimensions
(Cuccuru Mudeju-Nughedu S. Nicolo, Gior!E~- Florinas, Sa Carcaredda-Villagran de Strisaili,
Su Monte-Sorradile, etcetera). 'Huts for making bread' ( Vani della Panificazione) are so called
because of the large basin at the centre of a small circular room with a bench, next to a sec-
ond large basin of water and one or more ovens (Sa Sedda e' Sos Carros-Oliena, Su Nuraxi-
Barumini, S. Imbenia-Alghero, etc).
One aspect that the temples and Giants' tombs have in common is the presence of votive
swords, with very long (on average 120 em), narrow (on average 3-4 em), and straight blades.
These swords have been defined as votive because their shape, the composition of the alloy,
and their small hilt do not make them a practical weapon. Votive swords are the earliest
nuragic bronze production and form part of the offerings, since they are found tied together
in bundles or inside large jars; above all they are linked to the construction phase of sacred
buildings, stuck on the ped~ment of the temples (Su Tempiesu-Orune, Monte S. Antonio-
Siligo), denoting the structure of the temple itself as both a symbol and an offering. The votive
swords are found everywhere in sanctuaries together with the 'Offering Tables: The swords

are stuck in the cavities of the stones, fixed with lead, pointing upwards, and often represented
in the hands of the bronze figurines of warriors and archers. They are sometimes combined
with other symbolic objects or small bronze figurines, placed on their points and forming
elaborate hunting magic. Their presence also in the Giants' tombs, complete or fragmentary,
could indicate that from the beginning of the nuragic period weapon worship and ancestor
worship had undergone changes of form and place, but not of intensity and importance.

Nuragic Metallurgical Production

The early flanged axe now becomes slender, with less-developed edges and polygonal cross
section; it characterizes all hoards in Final Bronze Age 1 and 2 and remains in use in FBA 3
and the Early Iron Age, when it is even produced in miniature.
Among the offensive weapons, the types most frequently found, both in moulds and in
bronze, are the daggers-daggers with gamma-shaped hilt are typical-leaf-shaped and tan-
ged daggers, spearheads, and spear-butts. Swords of practical use are few in number, some of
Iberian origin, from the eleventh century BC onwards, at first 'pistilliform (widening in the
lower third of the length and then thinning towards the tip); later on, Huelva-Saint Philbert
swords and 'carp's tongue' swords. The Monte Sa Idda swords are solid proof of the exchange
of goods between the Iberian Peninsula and Sardinia. Nothing remains ofdefensive weap-
ons as shown on the bronze figurines; most must have been made from perishable materials:
leather, animal skins, wood, and wickerwork.
Among the personal ornaments the most characteristic and frequently found are the pins,
above all those with detachable head and often with a bead fastening the folds on the shank,
stout and useful also as a dagger. There are a very few other decorative objects, such as neck-
laces of bronze beads, bracelets, and rings. The fibulae of the Recent and Final Bronze Age
are for the most part imported from the Tyrrhenian region of the mainland, as are the objects
for toilet and ritual use, like razors and tweezers (Fig. 37.6). The ritual objects are extremely
interesting: mirrors, 'buttons', pendants, 'quivers', 'stool/rattles', 'two-branch torch-holders',
and probably also collars with conical ends.
There are few associations between metal objects and pottery. As a result there is difficulty
in establishing the chronology, which is usually done by means of typological studies and
external comparisons. The hoards of the Recent Bronze Age are characterized by the presence
of oxhide ingots (Lo Schiavo et al. 2009 ). The most relevant hoards of th~ Final Bronze Age are
those of Pattada-Sedda Ottinnera, Ozieri-Chilivani, Torralba-S. Antine hut 1, Oliena-Costa
Nighedda, etcetera. To this time are attributed hoards that contain objects both of the period
and of earlier periods, such as the S. Maria in Paulis-Usini hoard.

The Bronze Figurines and the Sanctuaries

The production of bronze figurines (Fig. 37.7) begins no later than the mature Final Bronze
Age (FBA 2). It is now possible to add stratigraphic and contextual data from the sanctuary at
Matzanni-Vallermosa (Nieddu 2007) and Funtana Coberta-Ballao (Manunza 2008).
Humans, animals, wooden furniture, containers in basketry, pottery and bronze, weapons,
monuments, ships, and chariots were reproduced in miniature by the lost-wax technique.
The characteristics and dimensions of some of these bronzes are almost those of real statues,


J ;

~ Q
~em 0
.. 1

: :1
- - Cl 5

l!!i:'l- ~ .. l 10


20 em

e=- -

.. j.

Various provenances Su Scusorgiu, Villasor (CA)

FIG.37.6 Metal types of the Recent. Bronze Age (RBA): Left: swords, chisels and fibulae
fragments, various provenances. Right: two votive swords from the Su Scusorgiu-Villas or
(CA) hoard.
Source: Lo Schiavo 2005a, Lo Schiavo et al. 2005.

as is now clear from comparison with stone sculpture: ox and ram protomes, single-tower
and complex nuraghi as found in different temple structures, sometimes included in elabo-
rate architectural ornamentation; and large anthropomorphic statues: boxers, archers, war-
riors, currently known only from the Mont'e Prama -Cabras heroon, in the Sinis region.
Rather than individual votos, the bronze figurines can be interpreted as ritual collective
offerings, destined predominantly for the temples, which in the course of time developed
into complex sanctuaries.



Even more than in the preceding periods, the events of the final phase of the nuragic civiliza-
tion need to be seen as parts of a cotnplex whole, comprising territorial strategy, demo-
graphic increase, monument building (both civil and religious), pottery and metal
production, and long-distance exchange, up to the time when an undisputedly new people,
bringing an urban civilization, settled in Sardinia: the Phoenicians.
In general terms the collapse of a civilization in Sardinia, if there was one, is not to be found
between the end of the Final Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. Instead, recent
research has defined this period as a separate phase (Final Bronze Age 3/Early Iron Age 1A:
Campus and Leonelli 2oo6; 2010 ). In this period the differences between the north, the centre,
and the south-east of the island are underlined, and in the course of the Early Iron Age nuragic
civilization dissolved both internally and externally into a new chapter of Sardinian history.

377 Bronze statuette of a warrior, the so-called ~Great Bronze' in the Pigorini Museum,
Source: Pinza 1901.

to Individual
According to a recent review, from the dilnax of this phase during the eleventh century B c
(FBA 2)-better viewed as a long period of elaboration-we witness the development of a
new way of settling the landscape, with enlarged territorial systems and a greater cohesive
force operating in the ceremonial and religious centres. This does not appear to be linked to
warlike activity. There is an increase of the ritual or religious dimension as a means of
expressing and overcoming conflicts, reaffirming social unity, and legitimizing the power of
emerging groups (Perra 2009: 365-6).
The increasingly religious nature of the nuraghi is more and more evident, with the dis-
covery of shrines in internal rooms or courtyards. These are characterized by ritual furnish-
ings, such as carved basins (Su Mulinu-Villanovafranca), small stone 'tables' (Tavolini)
(Funtana-Ittireddu), and most probably perishable structures (S. Pietro-Torpe). The pres-
ence of miniature four-towered nuraghi on the top of the tutulus 'buttons' that continued to
be produced into the full Iron Age, apparently without losing their symbolic value, is evi-
dence of this practice.
Throughout the island the 'strategy of the sanctuary' leads to an increase in the number
and richness of places of worship, right up to the creation of complex 'federal' sanctuaries,
places for gatherings and social meetings. These are almost always in elevated positions, but
remain accessible and are never fortified. They became so large that in some cases it is possi-
ble to describe them as village-sanctuaries (Su Romanzesu-Bitti, MonteS. Antonio-Siligo, S.
Vittoria-Serri). In some cases these structures-consisting of Well-Temples, one or more
megaron temples and rotundas-are surrounded by large enclosures (Su Monte-Sorradile),
which sometimes have monumental entrances (Gremanu-Fonni).
The expansion of the nuragic villages seems to have been uncontrolled, sometimes
amounting to hundreds of huts, often organized in 'blocks' (S. Imbenia-Alghero), each with
many rooms. In other cases the structures lean on each other and on the outer enclosure of
the nuraghe (Palmavera-Alghero, Bau Nuraxi-Triei), overwhelming it (Genna Maria-
Villanovaforru, Su Nuraxi-Barumini). It is a kind of deregulation recalling modern, disor-
derly house-building, and reflecting the demographic explosion that characterized the final
phase of the nuragic civilization and caused its downfall.
At the beginning of the Final Bronze Age 3/Iron Age I period, funerary practice still
included collective burials without grave goods, but collective burials in cist graves with
grave goods, including ornaments (Motrox'e Bois-Usellus), begin to appear; there are indi-
vidual inhumations in cist graves with grave goods (Senorbi, Sa Costa-Sardara), and shaft
(a pozzetto) tombs with grave goods (Antas-Fluminimaggiore) or without them (Monti
Prama-Cabras, Is Aruttas-Cabras). In Sardinia, which throughout its history had always pre-
ferred collective burials, this is a striking change that must, in one way or another, be con-
nected to the Semitic peoples who, having known and practised these rituals in their country
of origin, were now peacefully welcomed onto the island.

Nuragic Askoid Jugs and Votive Ships

Already in the Final Bronze Age, pottery production, which continued to produce the
traditional shapes, has elegant, decorated forms ('pre-geometric', eleventh-tenth centu-
ries, Final Bronze Age 2/3). These become more and more elaborate, in the style known

as 'geometric', with incised, impressed, and sometimes relief or a stralucido decoration.

The care accorded to, and decoration of, the pottery is another innovation, compared to
earlier periods, which suggests not only a greater value assigned to the vessels, but also
allowed immediate identification and, as a consequence, wider distribution of the pots.
The most representative example of this are the askoid jugs with markedly eccentric
neck, obliquely cut mouth, and an irregular globular body (Campus and Leonelli 2000:
392-400). These are the result of formal and exclusively local developments, which
together with the contents provide an exclusive and distinctively Sardinian product, des-
tined to be offerings in temples and sanctuaries throughout the island. This explains
the increase in their distribution, which coincided with the earliest landfalls of the
Phoenicians, and the very strong impact made on Tyrrhenian communities, principally
those ofVetulonia, and its transmission to other centres in peninsular Italy during the
Early Iron Age (LoSchiavo 2oosc).
A parallel phenomenon is observed in peninsular Italy in the late phase of production of a
few bronze artefacts, whose origin is highly significant. These generally take the form of
small amulets like tutulus 'buttons: with or without plastic decoration, 'pendulum' pendants
and small 'quivers: which can be found both in Phoenician tombs in Sardinia and in
Villanovan contexts in Etruria, Latium vetus, and Campania. Amongst these, the bronze
boats stand out in quality and importance. These are reproductions in miniature of real
boats, not so much technically faithful reproductions as symbolic and mythical representa-
tions, perfectly recognizable to the people of the time as an indication of the mastery of an
essential resource, namely the sea routes. From the technical point of view of lost-wax pro-
duction, the bronze boats and the nuragic bronze figurines are identical. As for the meaning
they held, they are comparable; representative, each in their own way, of Bronze Age nuragic
Sardinia, which in its final phase was transport~d beyond the island's boundaries. Up to that
time the destination of the bronze figurines had been concentrated in the sanctuaries,
whereas the distribution of the miniature boats seems to have been more 'personalized:
linked to the head of the local group and his prestige. This explains the frequent discovery in
Sardinia of the small boats in hoards, much more so than the bronze figurines, and in hoards,
tombs, and shrines in peninsular Italy.
Many questions remain, the biggest of which is chronology. The little bronze boat at Su
Monte-Sorradile offers many interesting perspectives; the assemblage with which it was
found includes various bronze objects datable to the mature Final Bronze Age (FBA 1/2), and
an askoid jug for which an overall date in the Final Bronze Age has been proposed.


The close of the Bronze Age marked the end of an era in which the alloying of copper and tin
dominated trade and technology. The Bronze Age was succeeded by the age of iron, already
known in the west but not universally present. While iron artefacts from Elba and metals
from Campigliese and Monte Amiata had not escaped the attention of Bronze Age
Sardinians, there are no definitive traces of the systematic use of iron here before the
Iron Age. With the introduction of a new material the nuragic civilization ended, without

external traumas and, as far as archaeological evidence can tell us, without war or slaughter.
On the contrary, the descendants of the nuragic civilization in the Final Bronze Age (FBA 2)
must have led the search for new resources, markets, and trade partnerships.
The people of northern, central, and southern Sardinia were exceptionally skilled in the
complex techniques of mineral exploitation and metallurgy, experts in the Mediterranean
sea routes, and skilled traders, with contacts in both the Near East and the Far West.
Northern Sardinians strengthened their relationship with the Tyrrhenian area, gravitating
more and more towards the opposite shore and introducing ancient Sardinian customs to
the local cultures of peninsular Italy. With this clear increase in contact between Sardinia
and the mainland, the Tyrrhenian sea became a stage for joint naval ventures. Trade and
piracy were linked in written sources, evidenced by the interconnected genealogies,
mythologies, and common designations ( Trsha, Thyrsenoi?). Piracy and trade dominated
the Tyrrhenian sea until stronger land-based powers came to the fore in Sardinia, and
fought over its seas.
The nuragic people living in the inland Nuoro region (Barbaroi, today Barbaricini) knew
and participated in cultural developments throughout Sardinian prehistory and proto his-
tory, such as changes in artefact form and rituals, and even acted as cultural intermediaries.
Sanctuaries continued to be used for centuries, from the Final Bronze and Early Iron Age
up to the medieval period, reflecting local reverence for early symbols and traditions (Sa
Sedda 'e Carros-Oliena, Nurdole-Orani, Sa Carcaredda-Villagrande Strisaili, S. Vittoria-
Serri, etcetera).This is confirmed by the letters ofGregorythe Great to Ospitone (a Christian
chief in sixth-century Sardinia), in which he complains about the persistent followers of
ancient cults.
At the end of the Bronze Age the nuragic peoples living in the Oristanese and the south of
the island (Srdn, Shardana?) shifted materially and ideologically towards cities on the coast.
The new urban world marked a new way of life, with a new religion. Past rituals were trans-
formed, as is evident from the new nuragic wheel-thrown impasto pots, the elbow-handled
bowls in individual tombs, and iron pins with detachable bronze heads.
In the Early Iron Age the Phoenicians followed the Mediterranean routes of the Bronze
Age, circulating copper in the form of oxhide ingots. The Phoenicians reached the far west-
ern regions of the Mediterranean. The Algherese area, among the most densely populated of
nuragic Sardinia, and with a multitude ofbronze finds in the temples (Camposanto-Olmedo)
and hoards (Flumenelongu-Alghero), provides evidence of this cultural integration. The .
focus shifted from the nuragic village at Palmavera-Alghero to the new Phoenician empo-
rium at the formerly nuragic village of S. Imbenia, a short distance away on the outskirts of
Porto Conte bay. At S. Imbenia two hoards of copper ingots were gathered up and buried in
amphorae, one a local impasto copy, the other Phoenician. Analysis of this copper has shown
that it was from the nearby deposits at Calabona. Local amphorae carrying wine have been
traced from Sardinia to Tyrrhenian Italy and to the Iberian Peninsula, as well as the Atlantic
seaboard. The incentive for trade in the Bronze Age had been copper, but in the new Iron
Age trade was driven not by metal, but by wine.


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Age site ofKommos on Crete: Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici, XXVII: 69-79.
Watrous, L. V., Day, P.M., and Jones, R. E. (1998). 'The Sardinian pottery from the Late Bronze
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Towards the Resolution of Relative and Absolute Dating in the Mediterranean, Studies in
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Wertime, T. A. and Muhly, J.D. (eds.) (1980). The Coming of the Age of Iron. New Haven and
London: Yale Univeristy Press, 151-83. I'




The area covered in this paper includes the southern slopes of the central-eastern Alps and
the central-eastern plain of the Po Valley, in particular eastern Lombardy (to the east of the
River Adda), Trentino-Alto Adige/South Tyrol, Veneto, and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. Despite
the fact that it belongs to continental Italy, Emilia-Romagna is also taken into consideration,
because the cultural dynamics in the Bronze Age, especially as regards the Terramara/ Palafitte
(pile-dwelling) cultures, are also applicable to this area (Fig. 38.1).
In this geographical context the most important morphological features are the Alps
and the alluvial plain of the River Po. Since Roman times the former have always been con-
sidered a geographical limit and thus a cultural barrier. In actual fact the Alps have never
really represented a barrier, but instead have played an active role in mediating between the
central European and Mediterranean cultures. Some of the valleys have been used since the
Mesolithic as communication routes, to establish contacts and for the exchange of materials
and people over considerable distances. The discovery of Otzi the Iceman high in the Alps in
1991 demonstrated incontrovertibly that this environment was accessible to individuals and
groups from the end of the fourth millennium BC.
From the Early Neolithic period the plain of the Po Valley provided favourable conditions
for the population of the area by human: groups from central and eastern Europe, who found
the wide flat spaces and fertile soils an ideal environment for developing agricultural tech-
niques and animal husbandry. Lake Garda represents a very important morphological fea-
ture, benefiting among other things from a Mediterranean-type microclimate, the influence
of which can already be seen in the Middle Neolithic. Situated between the plain and the
mountains, the hills have always offered an alternative terrain for demographic develop-
ment, equally important for the exploitation of economic and environmental resources.
As documented for previous periods, in the late and final phases of the Bronze Age the
northern Adriatic coast would also seem to represent an important geographical feature,
above all in terms of possible long-distance trading contacts with the Aegean and eastern
Mediterranean coasts. However, the geographical and morphological characteristics and
the river network in this area were very different to the way they are today, and the

FIG. 38.1 Map of northern Italy showing places mentioned in the text. 1. Lavagnone,
2. Lucone, 3 Fiave, 4 Ledro, s. Santa Rosa di Poviglio, 6. Frattesina di Fratta Polesine, 7
Arano di Cellore di Illasi (VR), 8. Noceto (PR), 9. Romagnano, 10. Nogarole di
Mezzolombardo, 11. Vela Valbusa, 12. Olmo di Nogara.
Map: Chiara Conci.

preferred communications routes must always have been the rivers, particularly the Po
and the Adige. \)


As with other areas, there has been progress in understanding the relative and absolute chro-
nology of the Bronze Age in northern Italy, thanks to dendrochronological studies on lake-
dwelling settlements by the small lakes in the morainic hills to the south of and along the
banks of Lake Garda. However, there are still various aspects to be clarified, and the prob-
lems of interpreting the archaeological data remain, reflected above all in the subdivision of
long chronological periods into phases and the attribution of individual complexes or
archaeological levels to one phase rather than another (Fasani 2002: 148-9; Bietti Sestieri
and Macnamara 2007: 27-30 ).
The sequence followed here is as follows:

Early Bronze Age (EBA) (antica eta del Bronzo)

Middle Bronze Age (MBA) (media eta del Bronzo)
Late Bronze Age (LEA) (eta del Bronzo recente)

Final Bronze Age (FBA) (eta del Bronzo finale)

Different phases in the Bronze Age have mostly been recognized and defined in northern
Italy on the basis of pottery excavated from the most important stratified complexes. Raffaele
de Marinis proposed the division of the EBA into four phases: IA, IB, IC, and II. The
Lavagnone 2 phase and layer E of area D at Lucone di Polpenazze (Brescia), for which den-
drochronological dates covering the period from 2077 to 1992 BC are available, have been
attributed to EBA IA. This phase, to which the oldest Bronze Age hoards would appear to
belong, is linked to the Bz A1 phase north of the Alps. During this phase copper was obtained
from fahlore (Fahlerz). The Lavagnone 3 phase and layer D of area D at Lucone di Polpenazze
(Brescia) have been attributed to EBA IB, for which dendro dating is available covering the
period from 1985 to 1916 BC. The EBA IC phase has not been correlated to a definite period in
Lavagnone but only in relation to the dumping of materials. It is also represented in the old-
est cultural complex of the Canar settlement (Rovigo ), which has dendro dating from 1869 to
1859 BC. The EBA IB and IC phases are linked to the Bz A2a phase north of the Alps, whereas
EBA II, which corresponds with the Lavagnone 4 and Fiave 3 phases, is linked to Bz A2b.
According to Renato Perini, who carried out various excavations at Lavagnone in the 1970s,
the Lavagnone 4 horizon corresponds to an initial phase of the MBA (DeMarinis 1999; 2000:
93-175; DeMarinis et al. 2005; Griggs, Kuniholm, and Newton 2002; Perini 1988).
DeMarinis (1999) subdivides the MBA into I, IIA, IIB, and IIC. MBA I characterizes the
Lavagnone s-6 and Fiave 4-5 phases and is linked to Bz B1 north of the Alps. The three MBA
II phases are defined through the stratigraphy of different settlements including Fiave 6,
Muraiola, Castellaro del Vho, and the small Terramara village of Santa Rosa di Poviglio
(Parma). According to DeMarinis (1999) MBA IIA-IIB phases can be related to Bz B2/C1
north of the Alps, whereas MBA IIC can be linked to Bz C2.
Subdivision of the LBA into two phases (I and II) is based on stratigraphic data for the Ca'
de' Cessi settlement (Mantua) and the large Terramara village at Santa Rosa di Poviglio. The
two phases can be linked respectively to Bz D1 and Bz D2/Ha A1 (DeMarinis 1999; 2006). As
far as the final phases of the MBA and LBA are concerned, there are several differences
between the De Marinis scheme and that proposed by Bernabe Brea and Cardarelli (De
Marinis 1999: Fig. so; Bernabe Brea and Cardarelli 1997: 299; DeMarinis 2006).
Summarizing and integrating the various proposals for absolute chronology, it is possible
to arrive at the following absolute chronology:

EBA 2300/2200-165o cal BC

MBA 1650-1350/1300 cal BC
LBA 1350/1300-12oo cal BC
FBA 1200-900 cal Be


In northern Italy the Early Bronze Age coincided with the sudden rise and subsequent
development of the Polada culture, as defined by Laviosa Zambotti in 1939, from a lake-
dwelling-type settlement near Lonato in the province of Brescia. The formation of this

culture must have been affected by a substratum of local tradition, the cultural influence of
the international Bell Beaker phenomenon, and perhaps an increase in population. The ini-
tial features therefore reflect both aspects of continuity and differences as compared to the
previous Copper Age. As far as the differences are concerned, the Polada culture is charac-
terized by strongly homogeneous characteristics, a large initial increase in population and
settlement, and a remarkable expansion, leading it to cover large areas of northern Italy and
also make its influence felt in neighbouring cultural regions. However, some elements of the
material culture, often linked to the Bell Beaker culture but also to earlier aspects such as the
Remedello culture, make it possible to glimpse a degree of continuity from the local cultural
substratum, which would seem to have had a significant role in the transition between the
two periods.
In the later phase the Polada culture was affected more significantly by contacts and rela-
tions with the Danubian cultures, already evident in the formative phase. The metallurgical
products are more similar to those from the Unetice cultural area, but a real population
influx can be suggested, given the evidence of relations with the Gata-Wieselburg group
which can be noted at sites in eastern Veneto, in particular at Canar (Rovigo). The general
demographic development at the beginning of the Early Bronze Age has indeed been inter-
preted by some as a genuine transfer of population groups (Fasani 2002: 108).
The centre of expansion for the Polada culture can be found around the southern banks of
Lake Garda and the small lakes situated in the neighbouring morainic hills, many of which
have been transformed into peat bogs today. The most important sites are Lavagnone,
Lucone, Bande di Cavriana, and Barche di Solferino (see Fig. 38.1). However, the area over
which the culture extended, sometimes with the presence of just a few cultural elements, is
much larger: to the north it stretches up to the Val Venosta/Vinschgau (Bolzano ), with some
elements also found beyond the Brenner Pass, the two fundamental sites remaining, how-
ever, those at Ledro and Fiave (Trento); to the south the Polada culture reaches the course of
the Po; the eastern limits stretch up to the Berici and Euganean hills; whereas to the west it
stretches up to Lake Pusiano (Lecco).
The fundamental features characterizing Bronze Age cultures in northern Italy were the
two main settlement models: pile-dwellings and Terra mara villages (Palajitte and Terramare).
Both were the result of significant and rapid demograp~ic development, as the areas con-
cerned were little populated in previous eras (Fasani 2002: 108; Bernabo Brea and Cardarelli
1997: 296), although recent findings in Emilia-Romagna, still unpublished, suggest that the
framework of cultural development in the EBA could be very different from that currently
In terms of cultural interpretation there is no agreement regarding a definition of the
relationship between pile-dwelling and Terramara complexes. According to some, they
are separate and different (Fasani 1984: 566-7), vvhereas for others they are comple-
mentary and essentially unified; according to De Marinis, the cultural material of the
Terramare derives from pile-dwellings, and the cultural aspects that define the MBA
and LBA on the Po plain could be defined overall as the 'pile-dwelling/terramara culture'
(DeMarinis 1997: 415).
The pile-dwelling settlements in northern Italy were located in damp areas. In the initial
phase of the EBA they existed on the southern banks of Lake Garda and the small lakes in the
morainic hills, whereas in the later phase the first villages sprang up on the plain to the south

of Lake Garda as far as the Po. They expanded to the southern Trentino, eastern Lon1bardy,
and eastern Veneto, although they were significantly less common in these areas.
Excavations at the Fiave peat bog, the site of Lake Carera in ancient times, made it possible
to show that the pile-dwellings may have been built both in the water, on the lake bank, and
on dry land. The best information about the evolution of the type of dwellings and the techni-
cal solutions adopted in the different phases of development again comes from Fiave (Perini
1984). For example, the type of dwelling in phases Fiave 3-5 (EBA II-MBA I), constructed in
the water on isolated piles sunk deep into the lake mud and supporting the dwellings, was
substituted in the Fiave 6 phase (MBA II) by a technique based on the creation of a grid struc-
ture anchored to the bed of the lake with an efficient system of pairs of parallel beams resting
on the lake bed, longitudinal supports and plinths (Fig. 38.2).
On the southern banks of Lake Garda and in the lakes in the surrounding morainic hills
there was essentially continuity of settlement for the whole of the Bronze Age, despite a ten-
dency for the areas inhabited to shift by a few dozen or a few hundred metres, towards shal-
lower areas. On the eastern banks of Lake Garda the settlements were inhabited continuously
up to the LBA. This period saw the maximum development of the pile-dwelling village at
Peschiera, with genuine centres of production and commerce in bronze objects (several
thousand have been found), also giving a name to a chronological period (the Peschiera
phase) in which the standardization of types of objects and the circulation of metal products
took on continental dimensions, the so-called metallurgical koine.
During the central phase of the MBA the Terramara phenomenon took root, with the
establishment of large settlements with banks and fortifications, widespread from the cen-
tral part of the Po plain down to the Apennines. After a brief formative or pioneering phase
between the seventeenth and sixteenth centuries BC, population and settlement develop-
ment was so rapid that a form of genuine 'colonization' of the areas has been surmised
(Bernabe Brea 2009: u). This was probably supported by new techniques in arable and

FIG. 38.2 Structures of phase 6 of the pile dwelling settlement ofFiave (Trentino).
Photo: Autonomous Province of Trento.

livestock agriculture, such as the use of the plough pulled by animals, crop rotation, and
By the middle qf the sixteenth century BC the number of settlements had already increased
considerably. These were still small (1-2 hectares), built on dry land, housing one to two
hundred people. Some of the settlements had simple fences made of wooden posts, while
others had a ditch and rampart. In this phase there are already traces of social organization,
with the creation of elite areas within the individual settlements, but no hierarchical distinc-
tions have been found between the various settlements. It is likely that there were (confedera-
tions' of villages (Bernabo Brea 2009: n). One of the sites providing the most information
about this phase is the small village at Santa Rosa di Poviglio (Reggio Emilia) (Bernabo Brea
and Cremaschi 2004). It is only later, between the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BC
and thus in the LBA, that one can see differentiation between settlements, within the context
of population increase, and settlement and economic development. Some villages were
abandoned and others extended, while others were constructed anew. Their size increased,
until in some cases they reached 20 hectares and could house up to a thousand people. The
layout of the villages saw the use of an essentially urban system, with regular rectangular
spaces for roads, large houses, fencing, etcetera. The dwellings were structured like 'pile-
dwellings on dry land' (Bernabo Brea 2009: n). The fortifications became imposing: the large
village at Santa Rosa di Poviglio was protected by a wooden fence structure which had gates
aligned with the roads, but other villages had enormous earthwork ramparts (up to 20 m
wide) and wide ditches.
The stability of the Terramara system, based on developed mechanisms for management
of space, bartering, production, and social relations, deteriorated after 1200 BC and in a short
time led to collapse of the system and the end of the Terramare. There has been much discus-
sion about the causes of the collapse of the Terramara culture (DeMarinis 2006: 452-4).
Environmental decline or climatic changes are among the reasons suggested for this phe-
nomenon. The latest theory suggests that the political instability of the whole Mediterran~an
in the twelfth century BC may have also had repercussions in northern Italy (Bernabo Brea
2009: 13).
The crisis of the pile-dwelling!Terramara system would not seem to have affected some
areas, as for example the large valleys around Veron~ and the Po delta, where villages
were relocated and economic strategies reorganized. Some of these large settlements
were situated along the courses of the main rivers, and managed complex production
systems and wide-ranging trading networks, demonstrated above all by the presence of
Mycenaean pottery. The most important of these sites is Frattesina di Fratta Polesine
(Rovigo). Founded in the LBA, the village of Frattesina extended over around 20 hectares
along the 'Po di Adria', a palaeochannel of the Po (see Chapter 35). It experienced its
greatest development between the twelfth and eleventh centuries Be, when it had a domi-
nant economic role thanks to an extraordinary range of artisan production (metalwork-
ing, working of bone and deer horn, glass) and ''major commercial influence due to
trading with the Italian Peninsula and the eastern Mediterranean. This is demonstrated
by the presence of exotic objects and raw materials, such as Mycenaeqn pottery, amber,
ivory, ostrich eggs, and glass paste.
For the Mycenaean sherds found in settlements in the Verona valleys and the Po delta,
analysis of pottery fabrics has shown that some of them very probably come from centres in

Apulia where there were Aegean craftsmen and workers, whereas others would seem to have
originated on the Greek mainland (Vagnetti 1996; Vagnetti 1998; Jones et al. 2002).
In this context a particular system of relations seems to link one specific Alpine region
with the social and economic structure of the groups settling between the Adige and the Po
and the eastern Mediterranean trading system. In eastern Trentino, at Acquafredda, metal-
lurgical production on a proto-industrial scale has been demonstrated between the end of
the LBA and the FBA (twelfth-eleventh centuries Be) (Cierny 2008) (Fig. 38.3). These prod-
ucts must have supplied markets stretching beyond the local area, linked to the Luco/Laugen
culture typical of the central Alpine environment. According to Pearce and De Guio (1999 ),
such extensive production must have been destined for the supply of metal to other markets,
first of all to other centres on the Po plain, where transactions for materials of Mediterranean
origin also took place.
The lake-dwelling/Terramara system represented the most widespread settlement model
across northern Italy, but in some areas we find other models and cultural aspects with dis-
tinctive characteristics. In Trentino-Alto Adige, for example, one can find settlements on
detrital cones such as the site at Mezzolombardo-La Rupe, attributable to the EBA (Bassetti,
Degasperi, and Nicolis 2002), others on rocky spurs, as in the case of the fortified site of
Sotciastel in Val Badia (BZ) (Tecchiati 1998). This site is situated at an altitude of around
1,400 m on artificial terraces. This is also true for Doss Gustinaci, attributable to the LBA,
which was constructed in connection with the abandonment of the last settlement on the
ancient lake of Carera di Fiave (Fiave 7) (Perini 1984: 164-93).

FIG. 38.3 The series of the Late Bronze Age smelting furnaces of Acquafredda site, Passo del
Redebus (Trentino).
Photo: Soprintendenza per i beni librari archivistici e archeologici,
Autonomous Province of Trento and Elena Munerati.

In the most easterly area of northern Italy (Friuli and Carso) the so-called castellieri settle-
ments on hills, fortified with imposing defensive works, represent a settlement model that
can be compared with Istria (see Chapter 46). These began to be established in the MBA and
show partial continuity up to the final phases of the Bronze Age.


In contrast to the major developments in terms of population, settlen1ent, culture, economy,

and production in the EBA, archaeological evidence regarding funerary rites is paradoxi-
cally very scarce. Furthermore, this evidence is not evenly distributed over the area exam-
ined (DeMarinis 2003; Nicolis 2004).
Most of the burial sites certainly belonging to the Early Bronze Age are concentrated in the
foothills of the Alps and the Alpine area, both on the slopes and the valley floor, at altitudes
between around 200 and 8oo m above sea level. Known burial sites on the plain are less numer-
ou.s, although the number has increased considerably in the last few years. The rites usually
involve primary burial, although there is likely evidence of the use of secondary burial, possibly
with partial removal of the flesh by means of fire. Various types of funerary site can be attrib-
uted to the Early Bronze Age. Simple graves have mainly been documented at sites on the plain.
These burials are normally grouped together in small cemeteries. Those at Valsera in Gazzo
Veronese (Verona) and Sorbara di Asola (Mantua), which are in some ways similar, have made
it possible significantly to extend the picture for this type of burial. The recent finding of the
Arano cemetery, at Cellore di Illasi (Verona), is of considerable interest. Sixty-two tombs were
found, most of them single, but there are also examples of double and triple burials. The tombs
are surrounded and covered by stones. The bodies were placed in a flexed position on one side,
oriented in a north-south direction or vice ver:sa. Grave goods were only found in 14 tombs an1
were mostly made up of ornaments. At Arano there are some indications that the tombs were
plundered in ancient times (L. Salzani and P. Salzani 2009).
Trentino is a special case in funerary terms in northern Italy, firstly because of the large
number of burials of this period, and secondly because the funerary rites are unique to the
province. The sites are distributed above the whole Adige Valley, mostly situated in small
caves or rock shelters or at the base of rock faces where crevices and re~esses are sometimes
used for burial. The most representative site is Romagnano Loc (sectors III and IV). Here the
tombs mostly back onto the rock face and contain individual burials. The body of the
deceased was generally placed tightly flexed on the right side, but there are some cases where
it was extended. The tomb is usually marked by a perimeter ring of stones and covered with a
small mound. One particular form of funeral rite, documented only in Trentino-Alto Adige
to date, is reserved for immature children (foetuses 9r newborn babies), placed inside jars
and protected by small mounds of stones. The secondary burial of the skull of a four or five
year-old boy in a pot is probably linked to skull worship. Mezzocorona Borgonuovo,
Mezzolombardo Nogarole, and Volano San Rocco provide further information on burial
rites in Trentino during the EBA (Nicolis 2001).
Vela Valbusa is another burial site attributable to the EBA, situated just to the north !Of
Trento. Here, inside an oval-shaped mound made up oflarge stones, a single female who had
just reached adulthood was buried. The grave goods included numerous Dentalium shell

beads, beads ofbone and lignite, bone pendants, perforated anin1al teeth, and other elements
that n1ust have n1ade up a decorative breastplate. This represents a very extensive range of
ornaments compared with other EBA burials, so it is likely that they reflect the social status
of the individual within the group (Nicolis 2001).
There is a clear distinction between the funerary rites at pile-dwelling/Terramara sites in
the MBA and LBA in Emilia and eastern Lombardy, where cremation was used exclusively,
and those in Veneto, where there was a progressive adoption of inhumation and the coexist-
ence of the two rites within the same cemetery (Cardarelli and Tirabassi 1997; De Marinis
and Salzani 1997; Salzani 2005).
For the Terramara culture the evidence for burial rites falls in a late phase of the MBA and
LBA, whereas there is none for the preceding period. The remains of the dead were placed in
urns, generally covered with a bowl and placed in small shallow pits, without burnt earth.
Sometimes the remains of more than one individual were placed in the urn, usually one adult
and one young child. The presence of grave goods is relatively rare and limited to a few orna-
ments or clothing attachments (pins, fibulae, etcetera).
One area that has provided important evidence for burial rites in the MBA and LBA is the
Verona plain between the Adige and the Mincio. Seven large cemeteries have been excavated
more or less fully: Povegliano, Bovolone, Olmo di Nogara, La Vallona di Ostiglia, Castello del
Tartaro, Franzine Nuove, and Scalvinetto. Some of them must have belonged to settlements
known from surface finds or excavation: Scalvinetto is linked to the settlement of Fondo
Paviani, Franzine Nuove to Fabbrica dei Sod, and Povegliano to the settlement at Muraiola.
A total of two thousand tombs is known. The cemeteries witnessed the use of both types of
ritual, with. the proportion of inhumations and cremations being quite variable. As in
Terramara burial sites, the remains of cremated bodies, without grave goods, were placed in
urns, usually covered with a bowl and placed in pits without burnt earth. In the case of inhu-
mations, the bodies were placed in flat graves, usually in a supine position.
The 0 lmo diNogara cemetery is the oldest and the one that has supplied the fullest informa-
tion. It must have covered an area of around 14,000 sq m. With its 456 inhumation tombs and 61
cremation tombs it not only represents a significant demographic sample for analysis, repre-
senting an important segment of the population in the MBA and LBA on the Verona plain, but
through the burial rite it also allows analysis of the social structure. In no fewer than 43 burial
tombs a sword was found as one of the funerary objects (Fig. 38-4), often associated with a dag-
ger (n out of 16 cases). This demonstrates that the 'sword carrier' was a figure of considerable
social significance for the groups making use of the N ogara cemetery. It also suggests that the
presence of a sword in some burials was designed to illustrate, through a mechanism linked to
the collective representation of death, the fact that the deceased belonged to an elite social
group associated with warriors, within which the transmission of rank and power must have
been hereditary. The female counterparts in this elite group would seem to be represented in
the cemetery by tombs with grave goods including ornaments and exotic materials such as
amber. The fact that most of the swords found in Nogara are pointed piercing swords suitable
for close combat should be stressed, but some are slashing swords, probably also used for com-
bat from chariots or horseback. Anthropological analysis has highlighted cut marks produced
by blows made with pointed metal weapons on some males, clear evidence of social dynamics
that provided for violence and armed conflict. Indicators of physical stress found on bones
from some of the 'sword carriers' are compatible with bareback horse riding and therefore sug-
gest the likely use ofhorses as mounts in this area (Salzani 2005).

In the rest of northern Italy few aspects appear to offer n1arked contrasts to the funerary
rites in the MBA and LBAin Terramare and the Po Valley. We may 1nention the burial site at
Stenico (Trento ), attributable to Fiave phase 6 (late MBA). This is a long mound, only partly
dug out, covering six separate tombs delimited by stones. The encasing of a child between the
age of seven and nine in a large pot in the Santa Croce cave (Trieste) is an isolated example,
probably datable to the MBA or LEA (Nicolis 2004).
Certain villages developed in the Po delta area after the Terra mara period. Of these the most
important is Frattesina, covering more than 20 hectares (Bellintani 2ooo ). Between the twelfth
and ninth centuries Be the population of Frattesina made use of at least two burial areas, one
situated around 500 m to the south-east of the settlement, the' second around 700 m to the
north. At the first, Fonda Zan otto, 150 tombs have been found, mostly cremation burials with a
cinerary urn covered by a bowl and placed in a small pit with some of the burnt earth at the bot-
tom (De Min 1986). The grave goods, placed inside the urn, consist of ornaments and many are
damaged by fire. At the second cemetery, Narde, six hundred tombs have been found, mostly
cremation burials, distributed over five superimposed levels forming an artificial mound
aroun,d 30m long by 1m high (Salzani 1989; Salzani 1990-1). The structure of the funerary site
is very similar to that used at Fondo Zanotto. Only two ton1bs offered exceptional elements,
with the finding of grave goods including a sword. Recently 240 tombs, of which around 20
involved burial and the others cremation, were found in an area situated around 150m to the
south-east ofNarde and known as Narde II (Salzani and Colonna 2010). An area used for the
cremation of the dead has also been identified in this part of the site.

FIG. 38-4 Details of the swords found in Tomb 31, Tomb 24, and Tomb 410 of the Middle
Bronze Age cemetery of Olmo di Nogara (Verona). ~
Source: Salzani 2005.



It is usually difficult to identify archaeological finds that may certainly be ascribed to the
world of cults. In the context of the Bronze Age in northern Italy certain elements, often
found in settlements, such as miniature terracotta objects, both small pots and anthropo-
morphic or animal figures, are usually linked to rituals, cults, and religious aspects.
In northern Italy the most widespread phenomenon assumed to be of ritual significance is the
placing of weapons in water courses or in particular places such as mountain passes or peaks. The
placing of swords in both the Sile and the Adige is well documented (Dal Ri and Tecchiati 2002). A
recent find (2004), arguably of ritual import and belonging to the Terramara culture, is the
wooden tank at Noceto (Parma) (Bernabo Brea and Cremaschi 2009). This was a large and com-
plex construction filled with water, into which a large number of objects of various kinds were
placed (pottery, miniature figures, wooden objects including some vessels and four ploughs, .
remains ofwicker baskets, animal bones, etcetera). The complexity ofthe tank's construction (Fig.
38.5), which can be attributed to the late phase of the MBA, between 1420 and 1320 BC, involved
the use of specific and significant skills, in terms ofplanning, engineering, geotechnology, carp en-
try, and the planning and organization of the work. The result was the creation of a (singular
archaeological monument' (Bernabo Brea and Cremaschi 2009: 242) that has no comparison
elsewhere. The interpretation given to it by the excavators (although the excavations are as yet
unfinished) is that it was related to rites within which water played a fundamental role. However,

FIG. 38.5 The Middle Bronze Age wooden tank ofNoceto (Parma) during excavation.
Photo: Ministero per i Beni a le Attivita Culturali - Soprintendenza per i Beni
Archeologici dell' Emilia Romagna, by kind permission.

despite the complexity of the construction, which also suggests the existence of a complex social
structure, the tank would seem to have been used for a relatively short period of time, just a few
generations. This may be because it was not designed for activities linked to institutionalized rites
but was rather related to a single historic event (Bernabo Brea and Crernaschi 2009: 244).


Overall in northern Italy the final phase of the Bronze Age shows a pattern characterized
both by cultural elements that are different from other regions and by cultural traits that are
common and shared with the Italian Peninsula. There is an absence of further demographic
growth in comparison with the preceding periods, while there is also development of the
production and circulation of the products of metallurgy, and increasing connections
between the different regions, in particular along the Adriatic corridor that plays a funda-
mental role in connecting cultures.
Culturally speaking, the Protogolasecca culture predominates in the western regions
while the so-called Protovillanoviano padano (the Protovillanovan of the Po plain), within
which the Frattesina site plays a major role, predominates in the eastern regions, and shows
several affinities with the Chiusi-Cetona group in Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, and Romagna.
The picture of the Final Bronze Age of these regions, which seems to be coherent with the
development of the cultural setting of the Early Iron Age, shows that the birth of the proto-
urban Villanovan centres of Bologna in Emilia and Verucchio in Romagna, at the beginning
of the Iron Age, seems to follow a line of continuity starting with the role played by Frattesina
in the Final Bronze Age (Bietti Sestieri 2008).


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