Between Aphrodite-Temple and Late-Archaic House III 


» General information
» Abstract
» I Innovative aspects: Bridging the 'great divide'
» II Status of the Research: The emergence of a central place between coloniality and locality on Late Archaic
Monte Iato
» III Unresolved problems and aims of the planned project 
        III.1 How Monte Iato came to power before 500 BCE?
        III.2 The forerunner of the LA-House
        III.3 Religion and the production of locality
        III.4 De-empowerment on Monte Iato around 460/50 BCE
» IV Importance of the anticipated results for the discipline: Digging out ‘local agency’
» V Methods and processes for responding to the unresolved problems 
        V.1 Responding to III.1: Interregionality before 500 BCE (Areas I, II, III, and IV)
        V.2 Responding to III.2: ‘Hut shrine’ or compound of an extended household (Area II)
        V.3 Responding to III.3: The outer square north of the LA-House and the production of locality (Area II)
        V.4 Responding to III.4: The collapse of coloniality around 450 BCE
» VI Quantifying and contextualizing “coloniality/locality”: Assemblages and ceramic fingerprints
» VII Organic residue analyses
» VIII Bio-archaeology
» IX Neutron Activity Analyses
» X References
» XI Staff



General information

FWF-Projekt (P 30478)

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Erich Kistler


ATRIUM - Zentrum für Alte Kulturen - Langer Weg 11

University/Research Institution:

Institute of Archaeologies 
Department of Classical and Roman Provincial Archaeology 
Leopold-Franzens-University Innsbruck

Approval date:






Scientific field(s):

601 History/Archaeology (60,00%)

107 Other natural sciences (30,00%)

504 Sociology (10,00%)



Did phases of globalization exist before „globalization“? Aside from the epochal signature left by today’s digital World Wide Web, earlier epochs and mega-spaces can clearly be regarded as forerunners of today’s “globalization”. Downright paradigmatic for such a phase is the Mediterranean area of the 6th to 5th century BC. Obviously, in that day it was not the internet that served as the basic resource for interconnectedness, but simply the Mediterranean itself. With its seaways, winds and currents it enabled people, goods and ideas to move and interweave megaspatially at a very early time.

In this densely interconnected Mediterranean world around 500 BC the coasts along the western tip of Sicily formed a central hub that not only connected the migratory and transfer movements of Greeks, Etruscans and Phoenicians. Indeed, they also served to connect the indigenous populations in the interior of the island and this proto-global Mediterranean world. But what effects did this relatively sudden connectedness have on the lives of the indigenous people living in the mountainous hinterland?

Since 2011 this question has been examined in the long-term project “Between Late-Archaic House and Aphrodite-Temple” through targeted archaeological fieldwork on Monte Iato, approx. 30 km southwest of Palermo. What has come to light thus far is a pre-global microcosm that is no less dynamic and complex than today’s modern world.

After more than 100 years of only loose contact with the trans-Mediterranean coastal network, from 550 BC onwards a few families on Monte Iato deliberately began to undertake hospitality and networking with the tyrants and aristocrats of the Greek coastal cities. It was through this hospitality that goods, technologies, and craftsmen also arrived on the hill. By their power to decide which of the local co-inhabitants was allowed to participate or not, these families increasingly consolidated their claim to leadership. Already around 500 BC this process of appropriation and empowerment culminated in a monumental high-tech architecture and a seemingly Greek style of consumer culture that was hardly distinguishable from the life of the Greeks in their mundane coastal cities. To prevent being socially dislocated from their indigenous milieu, the return to imaginary age-old cults and rituals was simultaneously forced. Apparently, such a religious reference to local authenticity and identity was needed to make this new globalized environment - as the manifest of a new order and rule - socially and politically tolerable within the indigenous societal framework.

The questions the third and final stage of the long-term project seeks to answer are the following: How did this proto-global process become possible on Monte Iato in the first place? And why did it come to an abrupt end only 50 years after it began?

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I Innovative aspect: Bridging the 'great divide'

The consumption theoretical approach of the proposed project attempts to bridge the “great divide” that was recently re-spawned by the debate about “early Greek colonisation” undertaken by the revisionist Anglophone scholars and traditionalist continental European scholars (Donnellan/Nizzo 2016, 10; see also De Angelis 2016a). An important part of this attempt to bridge the gap is the concept of “coloniality”. This concept will enable us to describe from the point of view of the affected indigenous people the factors and processes of empowerment that are triggered by colonial contacts (Montón-Subías 2012; Grosfoguel 2011; Morana/Dussel/Jáuregui 2008; Maldonado-Torres 2007; Mignolo 2000). Accordingly, in future it will be necessary to comprehend the cultural contact zone on Monte Iato also from the point of view of the local community. Most interesting, above all, are the ways in which various aspirants to power in the interior of the island attempted to profit from the colonial situation. What role did colonial contacts and transfers of Greek material culture play within this setting? Was it possible to generate and accumulate local power by appropriating and redistributing the colonial? Did that trigger processes of cultural alienation that socio-culturally raised the new leaders on Monte Iato above their local environment?

Yet how much display of Greek architecture and culture was tolerated without destroying the social glue that held the local community together? Did references to an alleged pre-colonial authenticity become necessary to balance out these colonial processes of empowerment and make them socially acceptable?

Apparently, coloniality always exists in a reciprocal relationship with locality (Morris 2003; Hodos 2010, 2016: 6-7; Dietler 2010, 57-66; Walsh 2014; Kistler et al. 2015; van Dommelen 2016). Both have to be understood as discursive loci. In this way, local subjects have a common place of indigenous self-placement despite the colonial situation. It is only through such rituals – celebrated and given out as age-old traditions – that ad-hoc locality becomes culturalised and historicised, thus creating indigeneity as a homogeneous block that appears to have been in place since the beginning of time. Consequently, coloniality can not last without being balanced by locality (Bauer 2011; Kistler 2015; Kistler et al. 2017).

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II Status of the Research: The emergence of a central place between coloniality and locality on Late Archaic Monte Iato



The interplay between coloniality and locality saw its first boom on Monte Iato during the first half of the 5th century BCE. In the Late Archaic strata it produced very specific and partly even monumental forms of materialization, giving a most enlightening picture.

      Around 500 BCE a monumental building project undertaken between the Aphrodite Temple and the LA-House marked the epochal establishment of a new colonial order. On the wall remains of an oikos-like cult and meeting house a new temple with an adyton for the cult image was erected. Furthermore, a fixed open-air altar was erected in the courtyard in front of the temple (see Fig.1: Temple). Via a processional route and a ramp this altar was directly linked with a banquet house that as a separate tract constituted the upper storey of the LA-House. This complex of cult shrine, altar, and banquet house is recognizable as the architectural triad characteristic of the architectural concept of a Greek sanctuary. Five treasuries or clubhouses erected by foreign guests east and west of the Aphrodite Temple after 500 BCE attest to the interregional importance of the sanctuary (Fig.2).

      Nevertheless, this monumental establishment of a new order is marked by a peculiar architectural fact. As the upper storey of the LA-House, the banquet house is part of a building that on a functional level is comparable with the spatial differentiation of neo-Assyrian, Etruscan, or Macedonian palaces (Fig. 3). It is this coupling with a palace-like structure that makes the sanctuary around the Aphrodite Temple a political focal point where coloniality, namely the local appropriation of the colonial, obviously became a central principle of interregional empowerment.

      Typically, this colonial empowerment was dynastically anchored by erecting the LA-House. The perpendicular bisector to the corridor of the LA-House lies precisely on the stone packings that denoted the above-ground marker of an abandonment deposit in the main room of the protohistoric dwelling that once stood precisely where the LA-House was erected (Fig. 1). This building is remotely reminiscent of the domus augusta near the hut of Romulus on the Palatine Hill that was intended to place Augustus and the gens iulia in the line of succession to the founders of Rome (Donderer 1995, 658-660). The mythical early times are thus “colonised” (Appadurai 1996, 183) by anchoring them topographically and the new ruler is implemented as the telos of local history. The production of locality is thus as important as coloniality when it comes to building power on Monte Iato.



Fig. 1


Fig. 2



Fig. 3



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III Unresolved problems and aims of the planned project


Never before has this overlap of power building, religion, colonial situation, and production of locality been so densely described as in the area between the Aphrodite Temple and the LA-House. Nonetheless, for the time being it is not possible to accord more than a hypothetical character to a few observations. These hypotheses and observations will be reviewed in detail in the planned project on a broader material basis and with the help of a precise stratigraphic framework.


III.1 How Monte Iato came to power before 500 BCE?

To a greater or lesser extent the pre-history of the cult place around the Aphrodite Temple as a new inland power centre is still hidden in the bowels of the earth. The decisive question that needs to be answered is: Did the cult place possess interregional importance before 500 BCE? And was that the decisive factor that caused such an inland centre to be established on Monte Iato and not on any other high plateau of the upper Belice Valley (cf. Leighton 2016, 146 relating to protohistoric Cassibile)? Or was it the other way round: The cult place at the Aphrodite Temple acquired its interregional status only around 500 BCE. Namely thanks to the deliberate strategy of Greek aristocrats who desired to make their ally on Monte Iato a powerful supraregional chief, who would be helpful in recruiting warriors and workers from the interior of the island (Kistler 2014, 91–99). In this scenario the establishment of Monte Iato as a central place of political and cult significance would have been an immediate consequence of building colonial alliances.


III.2 The forerunner of the LA-House

Directly north of the LA-House were the remains of an older archaic dwelling, consisting of a quadrangular main room and a semi-circular annex with a fire place (Fig.1: Dwelling). East of the annex the outside level covered up a waste dump from which bone fragments and sherds of several vessels, including six miniature attingitoi, have been recovered (Fig.1: Dep.1). In the main room was another trough-like pit that contained scraps from a sacrificial feast (Fig.1: Dep.2). All this makes the cult function of the quadrangular room with its semi-circular annex highly likely. Is it possible that these two rooms are the remains of a free-standing “hut shrine” (Leighton 1999, 262-63; Urquhart 2010, 165-67), meaning there was another cult place for an indigenous deity in addition to the Aphrodite Temple? Or were they instead part of a larger compound built in agglutinating fashion, like the one on Campo A on Monte Maranfusa (Spatafora 2003)? In this case the quadrangular cult room with annex would appear to be the social centre of an extended household in the immediate vicinity of the cult place around the Aphrodite Temple (Öhlinger 2015, 2016).


III.3 Religion and the production of locality

Religion forms an elemental, monolithic entity just as little as culture does. Instead, both are techniques of social reproduction that react to societal transformation processes in a dynamic way. Hence, the religious space becomes transformable. What’s more, it becomes a discursive area, where new social facts are created (Hofmann 2009, 2016; Urquhart 2009; 2010; Bentz/Bumke 2013; Ferrer Martin 2013, 2016; De Cesare 2015; Marconi 2015; Öhlinger 2015, 2016; Parra 2015; Baitinger/Hodos 2016, 20–21; Soic 2016). However, for the purpose of legitimation these are often embedded in old-fashioned traditions, for which archaika play a crucial role although they are seldom real heirlooms. To the contrary, they are items purposefully created to look old that are then passed off as keepsakes from the world of the ancestors. It is this legitimatory retrojection and the ad hoc constructed indigeneity (Antonaccio 2015, 60) that lend them a seemingly ‘archaeological’ authenticity and thus a would-be pre-historic depth (Mühlenbock 2015; Kistler et al. 2017 with further references). Do archaika and the production of locality become particularly efficacious in moments of cult and political centralization? Is the high tendency to coloniality in such processes of centralization even decisive for the construction of unique temene of locality or indigeneity to create a balancing counterweight? Do such temene indeed stake out the religious field, on which a native agency can be created and maintained that did not even exist in that form in pre-colonial times?


III.4 De-empowerment on Monte Iato around 460/50 BCE

How was it possible that the LA-House was destroyed just 50 years after it was built? Did the ruling family that lived in the LA-House lose its central position of power? Maybe because their colonial partner lost out in a power struggle in his own polis and could no longer continue to support his guest friend in the interior of the island?

A question that remains unanswered in this scenario is why the Aphrodite Temple was abandoned at about the same time. Another unanswered question is why the two oikos-like treasuries or clubhouses K and L, the houses and the oikos-like cult building on the southern edge of the later agora were destroyed around the same time (other such destruction processes in western Sicily occurred between 525 and 450: Vassallo 2000 and Morris et al. 2002, 188–191).

      Subsequent colonial architecture or ceramic imports could not be detected on Monte Iato. Apparently, the colonial situation entirely collapsed around the middle of the 5th century BCE. Not even instable settlements, built in the local agglutinating fashion, seem to have existed any more. Merely a local culture of memory must have still existed. Otherwise it would have been impossible to know the location of the three archaic temples that were re-built around 300 BCE (Isler 2009, 172, 175). 

      Obviously, the power political decline of the rulers of the LA-House is not the sole reason for the extensive destruction that occurred around 460/450 BCE. The question then arises whether this decline permitted old authorities to re-gain strength (Kistler 2015a, 209). Is this the reason why after 460/450 BCE the situation returned to an alleged pre-colonial existence?


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IV Importance of the anticipated results for the discipline: Digging out 'local agency'


The planned project will highlight fields of research where it will be possible to examine the powerplay between coloniality and locality from the viewpoint of the affected local population. Moreover, in this way the role of a local agency in building regional or even interregional power can be investigated to a greater extent. This is indeed a goal pursued in the latest research concerning the Sicilian interior, namely to show that “local people have agency of their own” (Ferrer Martin 2016, 902; Sojc 2016). But this research has to prove its point on the basis of archaeological findings that were made under the paradigm of “Hellenization” (Hodos 2014) and published in that narrative (Kistler 2012). If one tries to question these findings, documentations, and publications against the grain and from a post-colonial perspective, a whole series of methodological challenges and problems is encountered. This was recently shown all too keenly by C.M. Antonaccio’s “Re-excavating Morgantina” (Antonaccio 2015).

      The proposed project has the clear advantage that the question as to the role of local agency in the process of empowerment and consolidation of colonial situations will determine the layout of the trial trenches in the field. Therefore, it will be possible to systematically reveal material evidence that is exemplary for the purpose of answering this question. For their documentation and analysis, the concept of the ceramic fingerprint has been further refined over the last few years. With its help it should be possible above all to visualize, analyze and compare find assemblages as material reflections of situational consumptionscapes in the interplay between coloniality and locality on an intra-site level (Kistler/Mohr 2015, 2016). The insights thus obtained will be supplemented and corroborated by applying archaeometric techniques.



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V Methods and processes for responding to the unresolved problems

V.1 Responding to III.1: Interregionality before 500 BCE (Areas I, II, III and IV)

State of research and hypothesis: The stone packings northwest of the Aphrodite Temple (Fig. 1) that solidified the ground in four superimposed layers were laid out on the occasion of cultic feasts during the second and third quarters of the 6th century BCE (Kistler/Öhlinger 2015, 6-7). These fixed floor layers also shed a new light on the stone packings immediately to the west of the Aphrodite Temple, as well the ones beneath its foundations and its forecourt that were formerly interpreted as hut floors and settlement layers (Isler 2009, 141): All these levels were stone-packed campgrounds, on which ephemeral buildings or tents for outside participants at cultic feasts were erected. If this interpretation is correct, it would mean that a cult central place on Monte Iato was established no later than the third quarter of the 6th century BCE – doubtless due to its central position on the upper branch of the Belice Valley. Local, regional and possibly even interregional groups would have met there periodically to commute and trade with one another, but also to negotiate landholdings, way leaves, and water laws for transhumance.

Verification/Falsification: The scenario developed here, namely that of a pre-colonial central place, is based on observations made from a small-scale trench northwest of the Aphrodite Temple. Consequently, it is essential to holistically and fine-stratigraphically analyse all stone packings still in-situ (Fig. 1: Stone packings). Only in that way will it be possible to compile a data basis sufficient to verify or falsify such a far-reaching conclusion.



a) Ceramological: Factor-Analysis of the decoration of the “ceramica incisa ed impresa”:

The incised pottery from the superimposed stone packings has to be analysed for diverging ‘grammar’ within the decoration. This makes sense only in combination with a microscopic analysis of the clay fabrics of the pertinent incised sherds. Fourteen such fabrics were already differentiated. Furthermore it was also determined that not all known forms of decoration appear on all sorts of fabrics. In some fabrics it seemed that specific combinations of decorative elements appeared over and over again. With the help of the factor analysis of decorations (see Whitley 1991, 75-77) the bandwidth of decorative-grammatical and manufactural diversity shall be explored. This could only be explained by a certain degree of heterogeneity within group-building processes, which manifests itself within the production of ceramics.


b) Ceramological: Chaîne Opératoire Analyses of monochrome coarse and fine wares:

This methodological approach was successfully applied on the topic of Iato K 480 cups. In the planned project this approach shall also be applied to the monochrome coarse and fine wares to point out possible distinct chaînes opératoires involved in their production (Jeffra 2015). The spectrum of these may point out a possible new inter-group diversity among the feast participants at the Aphrodite Temple.


c) Neutron Activity Analyses:

With regard to the incised pottery H. Mommsen (within the SFB RessourceCulture, University of Tübingen) was able to assign nine samples to the local NAA fingerprint X090 on the basis of a first NAA sample series. Four sherds were assigned to various fingerprints. The first two belong to a different West Sicilian workshop and the clay group SicB. The other two fingerprints are two singles that have not yet been assigned to a specific provenance.

      Apparently, not all the incised pottery from the layers around the cult place at the Aphrodite Temple was produced locally. Obviously, from this it is not possible to conclude that various ‘native’ Sicilian people were present on Monte Iato. Nevertheless, as seen from the NAA analyses, the circulation of incised ceramics within an inland network is given. That means: the greater the heterogeneity of provenance at one single find spot, the more important and pivotal the particular find spot was as a hub within the internal network (Kolb/Speakman 2005). To what extent this applies to the cult place at the Aphrodite Temple will be determined by further NAA analyses of selected incised ceramics.


d) Archaeozoological:

Firstly, it will be necessary to analyse the bone finds from these fixed levels of periodic campgrounds for traces of their consumption and slaughtering. This will bring to light any diverging rituals of distribution and consumption of meat. Such rituals permit conclusions to be drawn about distinct group practices and therefore also about the inter-group heterogeneity of the attendant feast participants (Forstenpointner/Weissengruber/Galik 2005). Secondly, analyses will be performed to determine the strontium isotopy of the bones by means of plasma mass spectrography (Szostek/Mądrzyk/Cienkosz-Stepańczak 2015). Theses analyses are meant to determine whether the pastures of the domestic animals sacrificed at the Aphrodite Temple were predominantly located in the region around Monte Iato. Or do the bones alternatively possess significant amounts of non-local signatures, which would speak for the sacrificed animals coming from an inter-regional draw area? Great differences between the isotope ratios of the bones and teeth of one and the same animal could indicate transhumance, thus demonstrating the function of the cult place at the Aphrodite Temple as an inland meeting and communication hub.


e) Microbiology:

Verification that the superimposed stone packings with their intermediate thin layers of soil are not merely work steps within a large-scale building project will be of central importance. Thanks to the newly tested application of microbiology it was already possible to differentiate layers of the deposit in the main room of the protohistoric dwelling north of the LA-House that could not be differentiated with the naked eye due to their congruent geological texture and homogeneous material culture (Fig. 1: Dep.2). This was possible by sampling and analyzing the microbial fallouts that, because of diverging taphonomic processes, diverge even within geologically identical layers (Margesin et al. 2016). This method will be applied in a parallel project under the leadership of B. Öhlinger, namely to the supposed alluvial layers and superimposed stone packings northwest of the Aphrodite Temple (see homepage: “Das Mikrobiologie-Projekt”). The aim here is to determine whether the layers evolved through different taphonomic processes and were periodically accumulated one upon the other.


V.2 Responding to III.2: 'Hut shrine' or compund of an extended houshold (Area II)

State of research and hypothesis: The southern half of another quadrangular room arguably opposes the interpretation of the protohistoric dwelling (Fig. 1: Dwelling) as a free-standing hut shrine for an indigenous deity. The former did not come to light north of the LA-House, but under the south wall of the latter (Fig. 1). However, the building technique employed for the walls and the design of the floor are almost identical to those observed in the protohistoric dwelling. It is possible that this additional quadrangular room is the southern end of an elongated dwelling complex. This complex would have consisted of several quadrangular rooms erected more or less on a shared longitudinal axis, just like the contemporaneous “edificio 2” on Monte Maranfusa (Spatafora 2003, 43-64). In favour of the extended household hypothesis, but against the free-standing sanctuary hypothesis, are additional remains of protohistoric settlement activity (floor fills with fire places and delineating stone settings). These are located straight north of the quadrangular room underneath the south wall of the LA-House and in the southern third of its long corridor 1 (Fig. 1).

Verification/Falsification: In Room 2 and in the south section of the corridor of the LA-House it will be necessary to remove the still-standing subpackings of the late archaic floors. It is possible that more remains of protohistoric dwellings and settlement layers will appear under these floors and everywhere where bedrock is not present. It will be necessary to reassess these remains on the basis of stratigraphy and construction context and with regard to their possibly belonging to a larger dwelling complex, which may have been the forerunner building of the LA-House. If they can not be proven to belong to a larger dwelling complex and no further architectural structures are found in the vicinity of the protohistoric dwelling, this forerunner building did not form a house complex, but was a freestanding cult building.


V.3 Responding to III.3: The outer square north of the LA-House and the production of locality (Area II)

a) The outer square as temenos of indigeneity

State of research: In a 3.8m-wide trench (IK-WQ 458) along the north wall of the corridor of the LA-House almost exclusively fragments of monochrome and incised vessels have been found in the use layers (Fig. 1), just as was the case with the abandonment deposit in the main room of the protohistoric dwelling (Fig. 1: dep. 2) and the deposit located further to the east (Fig. 1: Dep. 1). No other trench on Monte Iato that concerned Late Archaic layers has ever brought to light such a density of locality.

Hypothesis and question: This consumeristic arena of frequently re-enacted pre-colonial locality does not represent a field of exaggerated religious conservativism, where traditions of the 7th and 6th centuries BCE were preserved in an enclave-like fashion. Instead, a socio-cultural technique is given here: A forecourt in front of the north façade of the LA-House is created as a temenos of a native agency. This physically well-defined place functioned as a space of indigenous self-placement, respectively for the construction and constitution of a local belonging or indigeneity, during respective feasts (Geschiere 2009; Antonccio 2015, 60).

Verification/Falsification: The investigated 3.8m-wide trench along the north wall of the LA-House constitutes only 33% of the presently known total area of the outdoor area. For such a far-reaching conclusion, as formulated in the hypothesis above, it is compulsory that the outer square be examined thoroughly and in its entirety. In order to do this, it will be necessary to remove the, in places up to 2m thick, fill layer in the northern half of the square that was created in comprehensive clean-up operations – possibly not until after the first destruction of the medieval settlement on Monte Iato c. 1220 AD. Immediately under these fill layers, as two smaller trenches have shown, are wall structures and settlement layers of the late 4th to mid-2nd centuries BCE that sit directly on the outer square. The late archaic outer level has been preserved here, as well as in the south part of the square.


b) Ceramica piumata and the production of locality:

State of research and hypothesis: Ceramica piumata, so termed because of its peculiar feather-like decoration in red paint, originated in Eastern Sicily. These ceramics go back to a late Bronze Age tradition and are found primarily in protohistoric layers of the 10th to 7th centuries BCE (Leigthon 2014, 63–64, 67, 69). In western Sicily it has only been found at a few sites and almost always together with ceramica incisa and ceramica dipinta, and at times also with Greek imports. In western Sicily ceramica piumata was produced up until the 5th century BCE (Kistler et al. 2017). However, the results of NAA analyses show that these are not east Sicilian imports, but a west Sicilian offshoot production that seems to have specialized solely in jugs and bowls. Use of the fast-spinning potter’s wheel, which was already standard in the production of early Iron Age piumata from eastern Sicily, seems to have been deliberately neglected. Consequently, the west Sicilian piumata appeared rather old-fashioned next to the matt-painted and Greek pottery of the late 6th and 5th centuries BCE. But as what is this west Sicilian piumata to be regarded? Is it the preservation of a genuinely old tradition? Or is it instead a re-invented tradition that lends a pre-historic depth to the production of locality in specific rituals?

Verification/Falsification: Further craft technological, morphological and stylistic analyses of old and new findings of piumata ceramics from stratigraphically verified contexts are necessary, as well as the systematic compilation of their respective find associations in order to gain more precise insights into the forms and functions of their consumption.


V.4 Responding to III.4: The collapse of coloniality around 450 BCE

State of research and hypothesis: Around 460/450 BCE the colonial architecture on Monte Iato was ritually abandoned and destroyed in its entirety. To date no traces of an armed conflict that could be made responsible for this destruction layer have been found. Doubtlessly the power structure must have undergone significant changes since no traces of a settlement with well-built structures or Greek imports can be found in the period that followed. The reign of the old, allegedly pre-colonial order appears to have been restored.


a) The suspicion that the LA-House, the ramp, the Aphrodite Temple and its surrounding sacral buildings, as well as the buildings on the south edge of the later agora and the oikos building in trench 1600 were all destroyed in the two decades before and after 450 BCE grew increasingly strong over the course of the last few years. Maybe there was a major epochal event. Possibly there was some kind of chain reaction, starting with the destruction of the LA-House and resulting in the destruction of one colonial building after the other. Further details to validate one of the two scenarios may arise from the quadrangular annex at the northeast corner of the LA-House and from the oikos building immediately to the east of it (Fig. 1: Building H; Fig. 2). Together they delimit the forecourt preceding the front door on the east side of the LA-House. Their surviving remains, as far as they have been dug out, are still covered by the rubble of their destruction. This gives a kind of secure find context that, in addition to the LA-House, enables two further case studies concerning the destruction layer of 460/450 BCE. It is possible that these two case studies can deliver a broader basis for the kind of observations of ritual destruction made for the destruction rubble of the LA-House. If not, it could still be possible to find more clues concerning various acts of destruction that would have happened within a relatively short time span.


b) On the forecourt on the east side of the LA-House wall structures of a building came to light that clearly show the know-how of colonial architecture and date to the late 4th century BCE. It is here that for first time the in-situ layers between this building and the forecourt indicate stratigraphically verified material records of the “dark ages” that started again after the destructions on Monte Iato after 450 BCE. To investigate these records, it will be necessary to first uncover the building of the late 4th century BCE, trusting that it will provide a broader basis of findings needed to answer the question about a return to the old order after 450 BCE.


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VI Quantifying and contextualizing 'coloniality/locality': Assemblages and ceramic fingerprints

Archaeological assemblages are material representations of consumption-related modes of behaviour which – intentionally or unintentionally – have resulted from particular regimes of value and from the habitualisation of the consumption that they produce. Taking this as a starting point, the field of ceramics was the first in which archaeological assemblages were put to the test as a tool for analysing the material fallout of consumption habits. From this resulted the prototype of a ceramic fingerprint that was constructed on the basis of the following viewpoints and criteria:

      Following the premise that »form follows function«, sherds that can be identified by type of vessel indicate specific activities that would once have been practised with the aid of these ceramics. These activities can be grouped into different activity types such as long-term storage and long-distance transportation, preparation, short-term storage and local transportation, and the serving and consumption of foods, drinks and perfumes. Lastly, the storage of wares other than food and drink should not be forgotten. By calculating the percentage share of the total of identifiable fragments represented by the different shapes and functions of individual ceramics, we obtain the bar charts that we have already described elsewhere as the ceramic fingerprint of a situationally dominant consumptionscape (Kistler/Mohr 2015, 2016). Due to interference from various factors, however, these ceramic fingerprints can never amount to precise representations of the quantities then available for consumption. Rather, they merely reflect consumption tendencies that can still be archaeologically identified, facilitating comparisons between converging and diverging consumptionscapes, both within one settlement and between different settlements).

      The ceramic fingerprint thus gives us a new tool for quantifying the density of coloniality/locality in specific social situations by analysing the corresponding find assemblages. That means that with the help of the fingerprint and its activity zones like storage, food preparation, and consumption of liquids etc., the respective advances to coloniality or locality can be translated into statistical values. In an intra-settlement comparison on Monte Iato the bar graphs of these values clearly demonstrate that the activity zone of ostentatious drinking was the most accessible for the politics of adoption of colonial ideas. If the tendency to locality dominates a social event, no activity zone contains colonial imports. In this scenario even the zone of drinking was exclusively reserved for local/regional ceramics.

               Working from the assemblage find locations, from which the ceramic fingerprints are extracted, the tendencies of coloniality and locality can be linked to distinct social spaces or even built places. Here it becomes evident that the use of the first phase of the Aphrodite Temple shows almost no traces of Greek import ceramics, despite its Greek architectural style. The rituals and feasts that were held in this cult and meeting house completely served locality. This apparent contradiction makes the extent to which Greek architecture was used only as a monumental framework for local demonstration of power, without adopting Greek concepts of religion and consumption, all the more obvious. 


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VII Organic residue analyses

A key possibility for verification of the premise of the ceramic fingerprint „form follows function“ and the traditional concepts for the use of individual types of vessels is their gas-chromatographic analysis at the Organic Chemistry Laboratory of the University of Salento (Lecce). If the first sample series of 26 fragments reveals that wine was present in matt-painted jugs, hydriae and ollae, but beer was present in a few matt-painted column kraters, the former picture of the use of these vessels would be significantly modified.


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VIII Bio-archaeology

Bio-archaeological analyses of appropriately instructive findings conducted by U. Thanheiser and G. Forstenpointner and G. Weissengruber will play a central role in investigating the powerplay between coloniality and locality. For example: it is a known fact that only ‘protohistoric’ ceramics from the 7th and early 6th centuries BCE were found in the deposit on the forecourt north of the LA-House, and not the usual imports. Even more significantly, only the residues of traditional meals were detected there, whereas in the LA-House, kitchen waste of colonial specialities was found, whether from Monte Iato or elsewhere, such as olives, grapes, eggs, sea fish and sea urchins (U.Thanheiser and G. Forstenpointner & G. Weissengruber in Kistler/Öhlinger/Hoernes 2017). 

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IX Neutron Activity Analyses

Thanks to the NAA, a first sketch can be made of local pottery production on Archaic Monte Iato, which is astonishing in its complexity. This sketch shows extremely specialized workshops on Monte Iato that reacted instantaneously to the needs of the local population. On the one hand, the interplay between coloniality and locality produced a need for drinking vessels à la Grecque. On the other hand, it also needed alleged age-old traditions to be reactivated in order to attest to local authenticity. For that purpose, Bronze Age pottery from eastern Sicily, as well as Early Iron Age pottery was reproduced in the potters’ workshops on Late Archaic Monte Iato (Kistler/Mohr 2016; Kistler et al. 2017).

      All these results give insights into the functioning and operation of local pottery production that had to respond to the newly emerging needs in a colonial contact zone, such as in the case of the Archaic settlement on Monte Iato. These indicatory tendencies shall be given a broader and more expressive data basis with the aid of a targeted sample strategy in future.

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XI Staff 

Principal Investigator 

Prof. Dr. E. Kistler:


MMag.a B. Öhlinger:



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