2009 Study Season

As a scheduled component of the Monte Palazzi Project submitted to Italy’s Ministry for the Preservation of Cultural and Environmental Resources, a study season was conducted in Calabria between May 25-June 24, 2009. Its main objective was to complete the inventory, drawing, and photography, of all the archaeological finds from the 2005, 2007, and 2008 campaign, in preparation for full publication. This entailed several visits to Locri’s Museo Archeologico Nazionale, the main repository for the materials from Monte Palazzi. Dr. Paolo Visonà of the University of Kentucky, Principal Investigator and Field Director, and Jennifer Knapp, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Missouri-Columbia and ceramicist of the Monte Palazzi Project, were responsible for all primary data collecting. Dr. Jeffrey Lamia, an experienced ceramicist, assisted Ms. Knapp in late May and early June.

Dr. Visonà also inspected the site of Monte Palazzi and photographed the stone quarry located near the hamlet of Cassari in 2008. Petrological analyses carried out at the University of Padua have established that the stone mined at the quarry was steatite, a metamorphic rock similar to soapstone, which was used in antiquity to carve vessels and a variety of implements. Numerous fragments of this stone have been found at Monte Palazzi, where it may have been worked by the Greek occupants and re-distributed to the Ionian coast in the form of finished products. A rock collector also showed Dr. Visonà a Neolithic stone axe found in the environs of Cassari within the last ten years. This confirms a prehistoric frequentation of the area, which is attested by a chert artifact, (possibly a micro-burin?) found in the 2008 excavations at Monte Palazzi. Similar axes have also found in Greek contexts at Locri and Hipponion. It is still uncertain whether several stone tools made out of a gray schistic stone, found associated with classical Greek pottery in different excavation units, are also prehistoric.

A preliminary analysis of the carbon and soil samples from the 2005-2008 campaigns has yielded remains of different species of wheat and beans in stratified contexts, while a tentative examination of some of the bone fragments has revealed the presence of Pig and Sheep or Goat. Complete results are expected in the next few months. Select charcoal and faunal remains will be used for radiocarbon dating.

Following the publication of the 2005 excavation report, an interim report on the 2007 and 2008 field seasons will be submitted to RendLinc (= Atti della Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Classe di Scienze Morali, Storiche e Filologiche. Rendiconti ) in the Fall. A volume on the results of the archaeological investigations conducted at Monte Palazzi thus far is also in the works. Its main contents will be the following:
1. The Monte Palazzi Project’s Intellectual Background: Paolo Visonà
2. The Stratigraphy of the 2005-2008 Excavations: Paolo Visonà
3. The Pottery: Jennifer Knapp
4. The Terracotta Figurines: Rebecca Miller Ammerman
5. The Lithic and Metal Finds: Massimo Betello and Paolo Visonà
6. The Coins: Claudia Perassi
7. The Fauna: Bruce L. Manzano
8. The Slag: David Moecher
9. XRF Analysis of Steatite Samples: Henry Francis
10. Other Analyses of Steatite: Silvana Martin
11. A Neolithic Axe from Cassari: Massimo Cardosa
12. The Cassari Cross: Vincenzo Naymo
13. Paleobotanical Analyses: Lanfredo Castelletti and Elisabetta Castiglione
14. Chemical Analyses of Mortar: Laura Rampazzi
15. GIS Mapping: Michael Kennedy
16. Topographical Survey: Paolo Mazzaglia and Emanuele Sapienza

Part of the 2009 Study Season was also devoted to processing and inventory of the materials from the 1987-2001 excavations at Contrada Mella stored in Oppido Mamertina’s Museo Civico, particularly the commonwares. Randall T. Nishiyama from NOAA spent the last week of May in Oppido working on the brick and tile from this site; Jennifer Knapp continued her study of the finewares. In addition, Stephanie Pryor, of the University of Missouri, began to work on the Pompeian Red ceramics from Contrada Mella. Randy also made some critical observations on the basalt millstones from Mella which solved an old puzzle: he helped to identify one of the fragments in the Oppido Museum as the symmetrical half of the meta of a Hellenistic hourglass rotary mill, of which a complete example was found in the excavations. This type of grain mill appears to be unique.

We are grateful to the Administration of Oppido Mamertina for providing lodging and facilitating access to the finds in Oppido’s Museum throughout the study season. As a result of this summer’s work, nearly 1,000 diagnostic fragments of commonwares from Contrada Mella have been singled out for publication. We plan to begin drawing and photography of this pottery in the Spring of 2010.


Neolithic axe from Cassari, environs. Sporadic find, 1990-2000.
Granitic stone. Dimensions: L 10,97 cm.; W 3.2 x 3.81 cm.; oval section
Munsell: N6


Iron javelin point, 5th-3rd centuries BCE.
Monte Palazzi 2008; square B2.9.  Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Locri, inv. 146746
Dimensions: L 5.32 cm.; W 1.7 cm.; quadrangular section


Greek bronze implement, 5th-4th centuries BCE.
Monte Palazzi 2008; square B2.6. Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Locri, inv. 146745
Dimensions: L 8.95 cm; W at top 8.5 mm.