A multidisciplinary study of an exceptional prehistoric waste dump in the mountainous inland of Calabria (Italy): Implications for reconstructions of prehistoric land use and vegetation in Southern Italy

Jan Sevink*, Wieke de Neef, Mauro A. Di Vito, Ilenia Arienzo, Peter A. J. Attema, Emiel E. van Loon, Burkhart Ullrich, Michael den Haan, Francesca Ippolito, Nikolaas Noorda

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

1 Citaat (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


The mountainous inland of northern Calabria (Southern Italy) is known for its sparse prehistoric human occupation. Nevertheless, a thorough multidisciplinary approach of field walking, geophysical survey and invasive research led to the discovery of a major archaeological archive. This archive concerns a rich multi-phased dump, spanning about 3000 years (Late Neolithic to Late Imperial Roman Age) and holding two Somma-Vesuvius tephra. Of these, the younger is a distinct layer of juvenile tephra from the Pompeii eruption, while the older concerns reworked tephra from the Bronze Age AP2 eruption (ca. 1700 cal. yr BP). The large dump contains abundant ceramics, faunal remains and charcoal, and most probably originated through long-continued deposition of waste in a former gully like system of depressions. This resulted in an inversed, mound-like relief, whose anthropogenic origin had not been recognized in earlier research. The tephras were found to be important markers that support the reconstruction of the occupational history of the site. The sequence of occupational phases is very similar to that observed in a recent palaeoecological study from nearby situated former lakes (Lago Forano/Fontana Manca). This suggests that this sequence reflects the more regional occupational history of Calabria, which goes back to ca. 3000 BC. Attention is paid to the potential link between this history and Holocene climatic phases, for which no indication was found. The history deviates strongly from histories deduced from the few, but major palaeorecords elsewhere in the inlands of Southern Italy (Lago Grande di Monticchio and Lago Trifoglietti). We conclude that major regional variation occurred in prehistoric land use and its impacts on the vegetation cover of Southern Italy, and studies of additional palaeoarchives are needed to unravel this complex history. Finally, shortcomings of archaeological predictive models are discussed and the advantages of truly integrated multidisciplinary research.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1310-1331
Aantal pagina's22
Nummer van het tijdschrift9
Vroegere onlinedatum12-mei-2020
StatusPublished - 1-sep-2021

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