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The Chora of Croton 1

Jon Morter
Edited by John Robb
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  • Book Info
    The Chora of Croton 1
    Book Description:

    From 1974 to the present, the Institute of Classical Archaeology (ICA) at the University of Texas at Austin has carried out archaeological excavations and surveys in ancient territories (chorae) in southern Italy. This wide-ranging investigation, which covers a large number of sites and a time period ranging from prehistory to the Middle Ages, has unearthed a wealth of new information about ancient rural economies and cultures in the region. These discoveries will be published in two multivolume series (Metaponto and Croton). This volume on the Neolithic settlement at Capo Alfiere is the first in the Croton series.

    The Chora of Croton 1reports the excavation results of a remarkable Neolithic site at Capo Alfiere on the Ionian coast. Capo Alfiere is one of a very few early inhabitation sites in this area to have been excavated extensively, with a full team of scientific specialists providing interdisciplinary studies on early farming and animal husbandry. It provides comprehensive documentation of the economy, material culture, and way of life in the central Mediterranean in the sixth and fifth millennia BC. Most notable are the remains of a wattle-and-daub hut enclosed within a massive stone wall. Unique for this area, this well-preserved structure may have been used for special purposes such as ritual, as well as for habitation. The presence of Stentinello wares shows that the range of this pottery type extended further east than previously thought and casts new light on the development of ceramics in the area.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79287-6
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Special Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
    Joseph Coleman Carter
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. x-xii)
    Jon Morter and Joseph Coleman Carter
  5. Foreword Capo Alfiere and the Chora of Croton
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Joseph Coleman Carter

    Excavating a Neolithic site in the territory of ancient Croton might seem an odd choice for the Institute of Classical Archaeology, given that ICA’s primary focus comes four millennia later, in the period of Greek and Roman occupation. The decision was, however, part of an overall research strategy that originated in ICA’s early projects in the chora of Metaponto during the mid-1970s and early 1980s.

    ICA’s mission as it evolved was to explore the agricultural territory (chora) surrounding the Greek colony, a subject that was then in its infancy. The first Metaponto project began in 1974 with the excavation of...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxvi)
    John Robb and Domenico Marino

    Jon Morter’s sudden death was tragic for all those who knew him. This volume is dedicated to Jon and, as was his original Ph.D. thesis, to his daughters, Kate and Clare Morter, and to his wife, Hillary Hutchinson. We wish also to remember his parents, Ron and Margaret Morter, and hope that in this book they may understand the high professional and personal esteem in which their son was held by his peers and friends. Yet an academic work cannot be published simply as a fond tribute, however sincerely felt and however worthy the memorial. Capo Alfiere is an extraordinary...

  7. I. The Neolithic Settlement at Capo Alfiere

    • 1 The Site of Capo Alfiere
      (pp. 1-4)

      Capo Alfiere is a small promontory(Fig. 1.1)on Italy’s Ionian coast, located about halfway down the eastern coast of Calabria, which is the southernmost region of the Italian peninsula(Fig. 1.2). The promontory is approximately 8 km south of the harbor town of Crotone. This is the largest nearby population center and has been such since the founding of a Greek colony there more than two and a half millennia ago. Capo Alfiere is on the coast of what would have been the southern part of the territory of the Greek city. Today, there is a cluster of recent...

    • 2 Cultural Setting
      (pp. 5-14)

      The accumulating evidence of the last decade now makes it possible to begin a review of the southern Italian Neolithic with a summary of the absolute (radiocarbon) dating evidence available, rather than immediately tackling the precarious edifice built around relative chronologies. After laying out the basic time scale as well as the most common horizon markers and their nomenclature, the discussion will examine briefly the concept of the Neolithic and Neolithizisation as it applies to this part of the Mediterranean Basin. This will give some idea of the problems that might be addressed by the results from Capo Alfiere. Finally...

    • 3 Environmental Setting
      (pp. 15-22)

      When discussing the placement of settlements among preindustrial societies, it is essential to address environmental constraints. This is particularly true for Neolithic communities, which are presumed to be locally autonomous and economically wholly agrarian. This chapter thus begins with a discussion of the environmental situation of the Crotone area, and of the availability of raw materials known to have been utilized in the Neolithic period. Possible environmental changes since that time must also be considered, and consequently the direct applicability of evidence derived from the recent past. Finally, attention will be paid both to the environmental constraints on the Neolithic...

    • 4 History of Research at Capo Alfiere
      (pp. 23-32)

      The Neolithic site at Capo Alfiere entered the archaeological literature in 1973, when its existence was recorded by staff from the Museo Archeologico di Crotone (Salvatori 1973). Material was being brought to the surface by agricultural activity and erosion of the cliff where the site sits. It was further exposed in the early 1980s by the cutting of a boundary ditch along the cliff edge, revealing a stratum bearing material that was similar to the Stentinello-style ceramics known from Sicily and Lipari. The preliminary notice was followed by visits in the mid-1970s by Albert J. Ammerman. At that time he...

    • 5 Stratigraphy Interpreted
      (pp. 33-42)

      As currently reconstructed, the stratigraphy of this excavated portion of Capo Alfiere consists of two main strata of Neolithic date. For the purposes of this discussion, the lowest stratum, or level, has been designated Stratum I, while the upper is called Stratum II(Fig. 5.1). Both of these can be further subdivided by further episodes of Neolithic activity, at least locally. The presence and date of a surface surviving above the rubble is still problematic. The finds suggest that something of that sort can be assumed, however, and it will be designated Stratum III. The natural shallow basin formed by...

    • 6 Architectural and Structural Features
      (pp. 43-58)

      The work at Capo Alfiere has demonstrated the presence of two kinds of architectural features—walls and cobble pavements—plus pits and one other enigmatic entity. These were the first excavations at a site of this period for this area, so little was known beforehand regarding what might be found. As was noted earlier, our own preconceptions, based on work in a different part of Calabria with distinctly different geological conditions (i.e., sand dunes), proved misleading.

      Portions of two paved floors have been found at the site. Both appear fairly similar in conception, although different in date. The stone employed...

    • 7 The Ceramic Assemblage
      (pp. 59-88)

      The study of Stentinello-style decorated ceramics has been long neglected.¹ The subject warrants a major study effort all to itself, not simply for the Crotone area, but throughout the zone from which these pieces are recovered. Since the first description of this pottery in the late 19thcentury (Orsi 1890), very little synthetic work has been attempted (Ammerman 1985). Meanwhile, the area of recovery of substantial amounts of this pottery has been broadening to include Malta, Lipari (Bernabò Brea 1957), and a large portion of Calabria (Ammerman 1985a; Costabile 1972; Hodder and Malone 1984; Salvatori 1973).

      Apparent regional stylistic variation...

    • 8 Stone Tools
      (pp. 89-110)

      This chapter will consider the three types of worked stone found at Capo Alfiere: chipped stone, polished stone, and ground stone. The nomenclature for the last two categories is somewhat arbitrary, but it serves to separate two functionally distinct types of artifact. In the first instance, all these stone artifacts are considered as tools. Treating objects in this way is undoubtedly a simplification on our part. Later consideration will be given to possible symbolic or value functions that stone objects may have manifested. The long distances traveled by the raw materials used for these pieces makes a consideration of their...

    • 9 Miscellaneous Objects
      (pp. 111-114)

      This section documents other small objects recovered from the excavations. Primary categorization has been accomplished by function, where intimated, and/or material type, which is somewhat arbitrary and less than satisfactory. For example, a polished-stone pendant, included here, might also be discussed with other polished-stone work; functionally, however, it seemed to fit better in this chapter. All the materials included in this chapter were found in insufficient numbers to address broader questions of temporal or spatial distribution.

      As was noted by our faunal analyst (Scali 1990), conditions for the preservation of bones in the upper level of the site were not...

    • 10 Organic Remains
      (pp. 115-126)

      This chapter presents the evidence currently available for the nonartifactual organic material, particularly the seeds and animal bones. “Nonartifactual” means the remains of plants and animals not modified for use as tools or ornaments, or for other purposes. Much of this is direct evidence for the economic basis of the Neolithic and subsequent occupation of the site. Here are the remnants of the crops grown and animals utilized, along with evidence of indigenous undomesticated plants and animals existing in the area at that time. The remains of these items may or may not have been deposited at the site as...

    • 11 Local Comparative Material
      (pp. 127-136)

      Some information is available to place the site of Capo Alfiere within its local archaeological context. The excavations were conceived partly in order to refine understanding of data from the University of Texas’s archaeological reconnaissance work in the area south of Crotone. This and previous surveys in Calabria can be examined to try to understand the distribution of sites, and hence the human distribution across the landscape during the Neolithic. The state of knowledge for the Crotone area available for inclusion here was less than satisfying, as will be noted further below. More will be discernible once knowledge from the...

    • 12 Conclusions and Future Directions
      (pp. 137-144)

      The Capo Alfiere excavations began with modest objectives that were overtaken by the subsequent unexpected discoveries at the site. The initial intent was to recover sufficient information to begin a reconstruction of the sequence of agricultural economic exploitation of the Crotone area. The large walls were discovered during our attempt to open sufficient site area to allow confident interpretation of the economic data from floral and faunal remains. At the time of this writing, the interpretation of this and other data is still somewhat problematic given the difficulty of deciding the role of the enclosure walls and, with that, the...

  8. II. Environment and Economy

    • 13 Geomorphology
      (pp. 145-148)
      Robert L. Folk

      The Crotone area(Fig. 13.1)has a geologic setting strikingly similar to that of the territory of Metaponto, with a basically similar settlement pattern as well (Folk 1982). Geology is summarized in Figure 13.2 (see also Ogniben 1973; Selli 1977; Nalin et. al., 2007; and Fogli 238 and 243 of the geological map of Italy). Hill-forming, tilted Mid-Pliocene (Tertiary) turbidites are overlain by the Plio-Pleistoceneargille azzurre or argilla marnosa(blue clays) with characteristic badland topography. Flat marine terraces(Fig. 13.3–13.4)cut into theargille azzurreduring Pleistocene times (as sea level fell and southern Italy was uplifted) are...

    • 14 Faunal Analysis: Bones from Animals of Economic Importance
      (pp. 149-166)
      Erika Gál

      The animal bone remains from the Middle Neolithic site of Capo Alfiere come from excavations carried out in the summers of 1987 and 1990. The finds from the earlier excavation were studied and published by Salvatore Scali of the Laboratorio di Bioarcheologia in Rome (Scali 1990).

      In the summer of 2007, I was invited to examine the complete animal bone assemblage recovered from both excavations.¹ My analysis concentrated on the remains of terrestrial animals. Almost 9,000 remains have been identified, including domestic residues and bone artifacts alike from three stratigraphic units.² This is the largest known Neolithic animal bone assemblage...

    • 15 Faunal Analysis: Small Mammalian Bones
      (pp. 167-174)
      Zsófia Eszter Kovács

      The identification of small mammalian bones is based on published data (Niethammer and Krapp 1978; Vigne 1995; Ujhelyi 1994). Most small mammalian species can be identified from teeth, mandibles and skulls. Postcranial elements—limbs, vertebra and ribs—are more difficult to identify. Therefore ribs and vertebrae were determined on higher taxonomic levels (ordo/familia). In addition to the determination of the anatomical elements by the number of identifiable specimens (NISP), the minimum number of individuals (MNI) was calculated according to the number of right and left anatomical elements, and measurements were taken for specific bones according to Wolff et al. (1980)...

    • 16 Archaeobotany
      (pp. 175-188)
      Lorenzo Costantini and Loredana Costantini Biasini

      In 1987, the Institute of Classical Archaeology conducted a program of archaeobotanical research along with its first campaign of archaeological excavations at Capo Alfiere. This project was also continued in the second excavation campaign during the summer of 1990 (Morter 1990, 1992, 1994; Morter and Iceland 1995). The archaeobotanical component was designed to identify the main crops of the agrarian economy of the Neolithic community via the recovery of charred botanical macroremains.

      Prior to this study, the data on the prehistoric agriculture of Calabria was limited to a few grains of barley and indeterminate cereals collected at the Neolithic site...

  9. III. Object Studies

    • 17 Bone Artifacts
      (pp. 189-196)
      Erika Gál

      Bone, antler, and teeth are the hardest tissues and raw materials provided by vertebrates.¹ The skeletal system provides mechanical support and contributes to the movement of live animals. The primary role of teeth is the mastication of hard food, but—especially canine teeth—are also important weapons in mating fights between males among pigs and horses. The various forms and sizes of antlers are characteristic of male cervids, with the exception of reindeer, whose females also grow antlers. Like tusks in pigs, antlers play an important role in the behaviour of deer in terms of self-defense, the status of the...

    • 18 Thin Sections (Reprint: “Notes on an Eastern Calabrian Assemblage in the Stentinello Tradition”)
      (pp. 197-202)
      Jon Morter and Harry Iceland

      Recent excavations (1987, 1990) at the site of Capo Alfiere on the eastern seaboard of Calabria, Italy, have brought to light a stratified deposit of Middle Neolithic date (5thmillennium BC).¹ Petrographic analysis by thin-section and XRD mineralogical analysis have been used to discern and contrast local production of impressed finewares in the Stentinello tradition with painted finewares using a “pseudo-figulina” paste which appear to have been imported to the site. In addition, changes in the style of impressed Stentinello-style decoration at the site seem to have been accompanied by minor modifications to paste treatment in local products over time....

    • 19 Tokens (Reprint: “Four Pieces of Clay: ‘Tokens’ from Capo Alfiere, Calabria”)
      (pp. 203-208)
      Jon Morter

      For some years, Professor Denise Schmandt-Besserat has been documenting the presence of small geometric clay artifacts, that she labels ‘tokens’, at Middle Eastern sites of all periods from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age (see most recently Schmandt-Besserat 1992). This article¹ presents some finds from excavations at a Neolithic site in southern Italy that suggest that the distribution of such objects may not have been confined to the eastern Mediterranean, during the earlier stages of Mediterranean prehistory.

      Schmandt-Besserat’s ‘tokens’ are unprepossessing subjects. Typically they are very small clay objects, perhaps 1 to 5 cm in size, in a variety of...

  10. Catalog of Ceramic, Lithic, and Other Finds
    (pp. 209-272)
    John Robb and Deena Berg
  11. References
    (pp. 273-286)
  12. Index
    (pp. 287-290)