Campaign at Monte Palazzi, a Mountain Fort of Locri Epizephyrii
After three seasons of fieldwork aimed at reconstructing the Greek settlement’s plan and occupational history (see http://www.fastionline.org/docs/Folder-it-2010-188.pdf ), the University of Kentucky’s final campaign at Monte Palazzi was focused on two excavation units near the SE perimeter wall, whose inner face was fully uncovered. A geophysical survey of the mountaintop (involving the use of a fluxgate magnetic gradiometer and electrical resistivity) was also conducted to determine the extent of the defensive perimeter and the possibility of interior structures. However, while the fort’s outer walls could be easily detected, interior architecture proved more difficult to discern. Dry-built and 2.5 m in width, the SE wall was constructed with blocks of local granite and of a garnet chlorite schist (a rock similar to soapstone) from an outcrop located at a distance of 500 meters from the archaeological site. This may be the first example of a quarry of chlorite schist used for building purposes by the Greeks in southern Italy. The foundations of this wall rest upon a layer of charcoaly soil that yielded Greek ceramics seemingly confirming a late archaic date for the arrival of Greek settlers at Monte Palazzi, and for the construction of the defensive walls.
Finds of stone slingshots inside the SE wall wall, along with three bronze arrowheads found in 2007, and two iron javelin points found in 2008 and 2010, corroborate the importance of the site from a military standpoint. Radiocarbon analysis of a fragment of wooden shaft (from silver fir) found inside one of the arrowheads has yielded calibrated dates of 544-510 BC and 538-482 BC. Monte Palazzi’s fort may have come under attack during the classical period, since no typically hellenistic pottery has yet been recovered in appreciable quantity. The most significant finds other than ceramics and projectiles in the 2010 season include two bronze coins of Dionysius I of Syracuse with Head of Athena l. / Hippocamp l. (405-367 BCE) and a Locrian bronze issue with Head of Herakles l. / Pegasos l. (300-250 BCE?), and several stone utensils made from a soft-grained micaschist. In addition to the numismatic evidence, the preponderance in the ceramic record of Locrian amphoras of the type with rim ‘a cuscinetto rigonfio’ from the lowest soil loci supports attributing this fort to Locri Epizephyrii. Located across the border from Kaulonia’s territory and near the main overland route to Hipponion, the phrourion on Monte Palazzi must have played a significant role as a control point and an observation post throughout the 5th and 4th centuries BCE.