Potter’s Reactions on Local Demands 

Comparing Indigenous Monte Iato (Sicily),
Ascoli Satriano (Apulia) and Ripacandida (Basilicata), 7th – 3rd cent. BC


From the 8th century B.C. onwards, Greeks and Phoenicians in the course of the so-called "Greek Colonisation" set out to establish new settlements along the coasts of Sicily and southern Italy. This had lasting effects on the local communities. After initial contacts with Greeks and Phoenicians living in the settlements along the shore, an exchange of goods and products as well as the transfer of fashions and practices took place. The new forms of cultural exchange and contact opened up new possibilities for the formation of local groups- and indigenous identities, accompanied by processes of social hierarchization and local power formation that had not been possible in the pre-contact period.

These social processes of transformation are to be investigated by the project in the light of the reactions of local potters to new demands in indigenous communities. The starting point are three inland sites: Monte Iato in western Sicily as well as Ascoli Satriano and Ripacandida in southern Italy. Due to the varying ethno- and topographical conditions, the three indigenous settlements economically, socially and culturally differed considerably. Correspondingly, the processes of change have been diverse and led to contrasting reactions in the local pottery production. It is precisely these divergent dynamics and interdependencies between cultural contact, social change and local potters that will be analysed within the three indigenous settlement communities.

Using a special geochemical method for determining the composition and origin of clay pastes used in the production of pottery - the so-called Neutron activation analysis - the first step is to determine the spectrum of the local pottery among all the vessel sherds found at the three sites. This will allow to determine which new vessel shapes for which new consumption needs had been incorporated into the traditional repertoires of the respective local pottery production. Which new technologies were adopted from the Greek and Phoenician coastal cities? In a second step, on the basis of archaeological context and cultural analysis, research will be undertaken into the old and new social milieus of the three indigenous communities in which these new pottery products were used in addition to the traditional vessels and for what specific purposes - which forms of new cultural habits are thus indicated in interaction with which traditional customs? And what does this say about processes of social and cultural differentiation within the settlements?

The answers to all these questions will be systematically compared among the three investigated sites. The aim is to establish the outlines of a new theory on the reactions of local potters in the process of the incorporation of indigenous societies into 'colonial' contact zones.


Principal Investigator:

Prof. Erich Kistler


ATRIUM - Zentrum für Alte Kulturen - Langer Weg 11

University/Research Institution:

Institut für Archäologien
Fachbereich Klassische und Provinzialrömische Archäologie
Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck

Project collaborations:

Dr. Birgit Öhlinger and PD Dr. Christian Heitz (University of Innsbruck)

Dr. Kai Riehle and Prof. Richard Posamentir (University of Tubingen)

Prof. Hans Mommsen (Helmholtz Institute, Bonn)

Dr. techn. Johannes Sterba (University of Vienna) 

Direttore del ‘Parco Archeologico di Monte Iato’

Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio della Basilicata (Potenza) 

Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio per le province di Barletta-Andria-Trani e Foggia

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