Monte Polizo Field Report by eld18221


									       1998 Regional Survey Report
Monte Polizzo Region, Belice Valley, Sicily
 Sicilian-Scandinavian Research Project

             1 January 1999


         Prof. Michael J. Kolb
      Department of Anthropology
      Northern Illinois University
          De Kalb, IL 60115

        The region survey portion of the Sicilian-Scandinavian Research Project (SSAP)
will focus upon intensive survey and identification of archaeological sites immediately
surrounding the Iron Age fortified settlement of Monte Polizzo within the catchment of
the Belice Valley in Western Sicily. The Belice Valley is a rich archaeological region
that contains well preserved evidence of human occupation from the Neolithic through
Medieval times. These remains represent important economic and social indicators of
variations in the human landscape through time and the scene of economic and political
activities which integrated ancient Sicilian life.

        The project will consist of: (1) an archaeological survey to collect detailed
locational information of the visible archaeological sites in the valley; (2) detailed
surface collection and recording of locational and spatial information of theses sites; and
(3) excavations to recover the chronological and subsurface architectural evidence for
evaluating a set of research questions.

        The overall goal of the survey is to monitor variables of social changes such as
settlement and landscape use in order to clarify how human modified landscapes relate to
local economic production and political dynamics. The specific research questions of the
survey include: (1) What was the scale and intensity of local regional settlement in and
around Monte Polizzo during the early Iron Age? (2) How did the regional landscape
become altered with the settlement of the Greek colonies of Selinus and Segesta? (3)
Was there a major shift in Belice Valley settlement practices with Roman political

Figure 1. Regional map of the 1998 archaeological survey.

        Results will serve as comparative data for understanding the development of
archaeology in the region and allow the testing of a series of hypotheses linking
settlement changes over time and the evolution of political authority in Sicily. Ultimately
the archaeological survey should provide context for the Monte Polizzo excavations,
generate valuable information concerning the material record of prehistoric and classical
Sicily, offer a unique blending or "classical" and "prehistoric" archaeological


        The regional survey of the Sicilian-Scandinavian Archaeological Project was
initiated in 1998 with a preliminary reconnaissance survey in the region around Monte
Polizzo. With the aid of Giovanni Scimemi, a local resident with considerable
archaeological knowledge, Dr. Michael Kolb and Marco Montebello spent three weeks
locating and documenting locally known sites archaeological in the area southwest to
northeast arc around Monte Polizzo (Figure 1).

Table 1. The 40 occupational components located in 1998.
Period           Church   House   City     Farm    Settlement   Scatter   Tombs   Villa       TOTAL

Neolitico                                                                 3                   3
Bronzo                                                                    2                   2
Ferro                             1                                       1                   2
Cirenaico                                          1                      1                   2
Greco                                      1       1                                          2
Greco/Romano                                                              2                   2
Romano                    1                6       6            2         3       6           24
Paleochristian   1                                                                            1
Medievale                                          2                                          2
TOTAL            1        1       1        7       10           2         12      6           40

        The overall goal for 1998 was to get a general feel for the local topography and
preservation of the archaeological landscape around Monte Polizzo and to test the field
methodology of the Global Positioning/Geographic Information Systems techniques.

        The area surrounding Monte Polizzo possesses incredible traces regarding
landscape use. The area is composed of 3 small valleys which cover some 30 km2 of
arable agricultural land. The use of informant-based survey not only helped us locate all
know archaeological sites, but also let us rapidly collect enough information to refine our
methodology. In the course of three weeks a total of 40 occupational components (Table
1) were located at 37 different sites (Table 2). Of these components, the overwhelming
majority were Roman (24 of 40). The second largest category was Neolithic (3). The
most common component types were tombs (12), followed by settlements (10), tombs
(10), farms (7), and villas.

Table 2. The 37 archaeological sites located in 1998.
Site#   Type                Period              Area   Site#   Type             Period             Area
101     Villa               Romano              1.00   120     Tomba            Greco/Romano       0.30
102     Tomba               Ferro               0.10   121     Tomba            Greco/Romano       0.20
103     Tomba               Neolitico           0.10   122     Insediamento     Greco-Mediavale    6.00
104     Insediamento        Romano              3.00   123     Insediamento     Romano-            6.00
105     Tomba               Neolitico           0.20   124     Case             Romano             1.00
106     Insediamento        Cirenaico           5.00   125     Tomba            Romano             0.30
107     Massaria            Romano              2.00   126     Villa            Romano             1.00
108     Villa               Romano              6.00   127     Insediamento     Romano             3.00
109     Villa               Romano              1.00   128     Tomba            Romano             0.20
110     Tomba               Cirenaico           0.20   129     Pietra Miliare   Romano             0.10
111     Monte Polizzo       Ferro               3.00   130     Scatter          Romano             0.20
112     Insediamento        Romano              2.00   131     Tomba            Neolitica-Romano   0.20
113     Fattoria            Romano              2.50   132     Masseria/Tomba   Romano             1.00
114     Fattoria            Romano              6.50   133     Basilica         Paleochristian     0.00
115     Insediamento        Romano              2.00   134     Villa            Romano             1.00
116     Insediamento        Romano              3.00   135     Villa            Romano             1.00
117     Fattoria            Romano              0.25   136     Fattoria         Romano             2.00
118     Tomba               Bronzo              0.20   137     Fattoria         Greco              2.00
119     Tomba               Bronzo              0.20

         The survey results were quite prolific in terms of sites and materials (Table 3). A
total of 212 diagnostic artifacts were collected, including pottery, metal, and stone items.
Only diagnostic pottery pieces were collected, including base, rim, hand, and lamp
fragments. Metal artifacts included coins, bronze and iron fragments, and slag. Stone
items included hammer stones, grinding stones, mosaic tiles, and abraders. Other items
included shell, bone, and glass.

Table 3. Archaeological finds by site.
Site        Pottery     Metal   Stone   Other
101         29          0       1       1
102         4           0       0       0
103         0           1       0       0
104         7           0       1       0
112         7           2       1       0
113         8           0       1       0
114         20          0       1       2
115         11          0       1       1
116         11          1       1       0
117         13          0       1       0
120         2           0       0       1
121         1           0       0       0
122         17          0       2       0
123         17          0       0       0
124         3           0       0       0
127         17          1       1       1
130         2           0       0       0
134         14          0       1       0
135         4           0       0       0
136         2           0       0       0

TOTAL         189       5        12   6
        Of these finds the majority were Roman Age, although a few fragments of
Neolithic and Iron Age pottery was recovered. All of the artifactual finds were easily
identified on the ground surface and were well preserved. This suggests that future field
seasons will also be productive. The lack of chronologically comparable components to
the Early Iron Age of Monte Polizzo is probably due to the over-reliance upon local
information. The archaeological visibility of Roman sites is also high and therefore may
overshadow or be topographically superimposed over earlier archaeological components.
The presence of chronologically earlier material also suggests that Early Iron Age sites
can be found.

Table 4. Archaeological finds by age.
Age                 Pottery   Metal   Stone   Other   TOTAL
Neolithic           1         1       0       0       2
Iron                7         0       0       0       7
Greek               1         0       0       0       1
Greco/Roman         2         0       0       0       2
Roman               169       4       12      6       191
Medieval            9         0       0       0       9
                    189       5       12      6       212

        The total budget for 1998 was USA $5976.30 (see Table 5). Travel funds in
February were for a preliminary trip by the primary investigator to Sicily. Travel funds
in July were for the primary investigator and one student. Expenses included car rental,
housing and food expenses (covered under Kolb per diem), and miscellaneous supplies.

Table 5. Budget for 1998 Field Expenses in USA dollars.
February-98 Travel                 900.00
July-98      Travel                2424.00
July-98      Expenses              2652.30


        The 1999 survey will focus on a systematic pedestrian survey of approximately
25 km2 of agricultural land immediately surrounding Monte Polizzo and the town of Vita
in order to identify local sites and pottery scatters (Figure 2). The survey will begin in
the valley between Monte Polizzo and Montagne Grande. This is a portion of the area
that was surveyed in 1998 with local informants. Systematic pedestrian survey will focus
on locating the less obvious but very important traces of outlying land use; local hamlets,
farms, or evidence of urban farmers traveling to and from is critically important because
Monte Polizzo itself had very little agricultural potential. This evidence, combined with
the more spectacular traces of classical habitation and land use should clarify the
settlement hierarchy in the valley from Bronze Age to Roman times, as well as identify
Elymian sites that are contemporaneous with Monte Polizzo's occupation.

Figure 2. Area around Monte Polizzo targeted for 1999 intensive survey.

        The project area will be divided into several survey blocks. Each block will then
by surveyed in a series of "sweeps." Each sweep will consist of a group of evenly space
surveyors each walking a straight-line transect. Depending on vegetation density and
section topography, these transects will be spaced from 5 m to 10 m in width. Within
each section, each sweep will assigned an ID number.

        When archaeological material is located, its location will be immediately
determined using both GPS and compass. Every archaeological site will be assigned an
individual site survey ID number, mapped, and swept for surface finds with transects at 3
meters apart. The site boundaries will be determined by locating the extent of surface
debris. Artifact collection will focus on collecting diagnostic materials for identifying
site function and chronology. Each find will be stored for identification in the lab.

        The development of an adequate regional chronology and identifying early
components will be an important aim of this survey. One of the most crucial aspects of
the survey will therefore be shovel testing or placing "telephone booth" test excavation
units in certain multi-component sites in order determine their chronology. With 4 sites
possessing multiple chronological components, determining the antiquity of each site will
be paramount to locating early Bronze Age and Iron Age cultural material.

       All survey information will be heuristically linked with thematic GIS and remote
sensing applications capable of generating 3D models of the valley for macro-scale
(regional) as well as micro-scale (site) analysis. Collected materials will be cataloged,
photographed with a digital camera, and incorporated into the GIS database.


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