Pantalica in the Sicilian Late Bronze and Iron Ages: Excavations of the Rock-cut Chamber Tombs by Paolo Orsi from 1895 to 1910 [Paperback]

Robert Leighton (Editor); Rosa Maria Albanese Procelli (Editor)

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ISBN: 9781789253023 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2019 | Language: English 216p, H297 x W210 (mm) b/w and colour

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Pantalica in the Sicilian Late Bronze and Iron Ages


Pantalica is a large limestone promontory in southeast Sicily known chiefly for a series of extensive cemeteries comprising thousands of chamber tombs cut out of the rock, dating mainly between the 13th and 7th centuries BCE. A UNESCO World Heritage site and nature reserve, renowned for archaeological remains in a spectacular natural setting, the site gives its name to the Late Bronze and Iron Age “Pantalica culture”, typical of southern Sicily in the period just before Greek colonization. At the time of Greek colonization in southern Sicily (8th c BCE), however, Pantalica was still one of the main indigenous centers of the region, sometimes likened to a chiefdom, dominating a sizeable territory and subsidiary settlements. The main excavations were undertaken by Paolo Orsi between 1895 and 1910 and mainly comprise information and relatively abundant finds of pottery and bronze artefacts from about 250 chamber tombs. The material is housed in the Archaeological Museum of Syracuse and is crucial for an understanding of local cultural traditions, burial practices and international contacts between Sicily and other areas (Italy, the eastern Mediterranean) in this period. The finds are only known from a small selection published by Orsi in two articles of 1895 and 1912. More than half were never published.

The main aim of this volume is to provide a comprehensive study and illustrated catalogue of all the finds from the Pantalica tombs, along with new information from Orsi’s original excavation notebooks about their original context. In addition, the authors present the results of original research on different aspects of the evidence, including topography, funerary architecture (chamber tombs), funerary practices, ceramics, metals and other finds, and chronology.

This volume will be an indispensable source of hitherto unpublished information of particular interest to scholars of Mediterranean later prehistory and connections between Greek colonists and native populations in the early historical period. Some new information is also provided about remains of the classical, Hellenistic, late antique and Medieval periods.

Table of Contents

1. A short history of research (Robert Leighton)
Antiquarians and first visitors
The campaigns of Paolo Orsi (1895–1910)
More recent work
2. The main monuments and their location (Robert Leighton)
Physical and environmental characteristics of the site
Surface area, tomb numbers and demography
The main burial areas
The Filiporto fortifications and tower
Rock-cut habitation chambers and other classical-Hellenistic structures
The “anaktoron”
Christian oratories
Trackways and more recent monuments
3. Tomb forms and features (Robert Leighton)
Curvilinear chambers
Quadrangular or quadrilateral chambers
Doors and dromoi
Tombs with multiple chambers
Tombs with wider cultural connections
4. Burial practices (Robert Leighton and Rosa Maria Albanese Procelli)
Numbers and ages of the deceased
Internal layouts
Artefact combinations
Sex, gender and activity indicators
Feasting and drinking
Social standing and rank
5. The pottery (Robert Leighton)
Pottery styles and decoration
Beakers, pyxides and similar forms
Bowls and basins without pedestals
Jars (small ovoidal types)
Jugs (round-necked, tubular- and strainer-spouted)
Jugs with sloping, triangular and trefoil rims (oinochoai)
Pedestal basins
Pedestal krater
Pedestal plates and bowls
Pithoi and large storage jars
Saucers and shallow bowls
Spindle whorls and loom weights
Pottery of later periods (Archaic–Byzantine)
6. Metal and other artefacts (Rosa Maria Albanese Procelli)
Bronze artefacts
Iron artefacts
Gold artefacts
Silver and lead artefacts
Other materials
7. Chronology (Robert Leighton)
Early research and traditional frameworks
Periods and terminology
Sicilian fibula typology and chronology
Other datable metal and pottery forms
8. Catalogo delle tombe e dei corredi (Rosa Maria Albanese Procelli and Robert Leighton)
Catalogue of tombs and their contents from the Orsi excavations
English foreword and abbreviations
Avvertenze ed abbreviazioni
Necropoli Nord, scavi Orsi (1895, 1897, 1910)
Necropoli Nord-Ovest, scavi Orsi (1895, 1910)
Necropoli Sud, scavi Orsi (1900–1901, 1903, 1910)
Necropoli Cavetta, scavi Orsi (1895)
Necropoli di Filiporto, scavi Orsi (1895)
Provenienze varie

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