Activities of the Foundation for Calabrian Archaeology between 2010-2014

(1) In June, 2010, the Foundation for Calabrian Archaeology helped to sponsor its fourth and last season of archaeological fieldwork on the summit of Monte Palazzi, in southern Calabria, where remains of a Greek fortification attributed to Locri Epizephyrii had been uncovered in 2005, 2007, and 2008. Located on the right bank of the Allaro River, which separated the territory (or chora)of Locri from that of Kaulonia, a rival Greek city, this fort was occupied from the mid-6th to the mid-3rd centuries BCE. It appears to have played a major role in a complex system of defense that guarded both the northern and eastern flanks of the Locrian chora and an overland route which linked Locri to its subcolonies Medma and Hipponion on the western coast of Italy. The results of a geophysical survey, directed by Prof. George M. Crothers of the University of Kentucky, show that a large structure, identifiable as a fort, occupied the entire summit. Its irregular plan, covering a surface of at least 1300 m², seems to have been designed to follow the contour of the mountaintop. Linear anomalies along the eastern and western walls suggest the presence of interior structures, possibly barracks or storerooms, that enclosed an open-air courtyard. The entrance of the fort was on its southern side. Significant finds from the 2010 excavations include pottery, coins, bronze and iron projectile points, and stone utensils. They cast light upon the material culture and the chronology of this outpost, which was destroyed and abandoned in the 3rd century BCE, when Locri was threatened by the Brettians, an Italic population. Generous funding for the 2010 investigations was provided by the Falkenberg Foundation, the University of Kentucky, and private donors. Preliminary information on these findings was given at the 113th Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Philadelphia; the field report is available at

(2) An exhibition illustrating the results of the Monte Palazzi archaeological project was held at Lexington’s Public Library between March and May 2011. It was made possible by a grant from the Archaeological Institute of America to the AIA Kentucky Society. In June, 2011, this exhibit traveled to the town of Grotteria (in Calabria, Italy), which has jurisdiction over the site of Monte Palazzi, and was presented to the general public; it was donated subsequently to the village of Cassari located at the foot of the mountain.

(3) The Foundation for Calabrian Archaeology also contributed to the exploration of a Roman site buried under farmland near Tezze di Arzignano, a village to the northwest of Vicenza, in the Veneto region of Italy. Extensive remains of this settlement were uncovered in 1795 and 1882 after catastrophic flooding by the Agno-Guà River, but they have since disappeared. Sporadic finds of Roman materials in a private estate at località Valbruna hinted at the presence of underground structures. After fieldwalking in the summer of 2010 and 2011 yielded eroded fragments of Roman roof tiles and a cluster of mosaic tesserae, a geophysical survey was conducted in July 2012 by a team from the University of Kentucky under the direction of Prof. George M. Crothers. Gradiometer and GPR data revealed distinct anomalies belonging to a rectangular structure that was interpreted as a portion of a substantial Roman building. Another series of anomalies could represent an ancient roadway. The Roman building may have been a farmhouse which stood near a burial ground, as finds of Roman tombs in its vicinity would suggest. Pottery and roof tiles recovered from the survey area indicate that the site was occupied from the late Iron Age until the 3rd century CE. Funding for the study of the Roman materials from Valbruna was provided by the Foundation for Calabrian Archaeology. Preliminary data on the results of these investigations were presented at the 114th Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Seattle, Washington; a field report is available

(4) As a result of our archaeological investigations, it seems possible that the Locrians established a series of control points at regular intervals of 10-12 km along the borders of their territory. This defense network, consisting of small outposts and strategically important landmarks, would have originated in the archaic period (c. 600-480 BCE), a time of Locrian expansion on the Tyrrhenian coast and of intense political rivalry between Locri and its Greek neighbors.

In addition, between June 2010 and May 2014, volunteers associated with the Foundation for Calabrian Archaeology conducted several reconnaissances in the environs of Monte Palazzi and across the Locrian chora. There is evidence that Locri and the neighboring city-states of Rhegion and Kaulonia built permanent fortifications in their mountainous borderlands as early as the 6thcentury BCE. The goal of these investigations was to understand the topographical characteristics and the strategic potential of sites and landmarks presumed to have been used by the Locrians as control points along the boundaries of their territory, for intersignaling, or for overland communications with the Tyrrhenian coast. The areas of interest included, from east to west, the lower and middle course of the Allaro River, the upper Torbido River Valley, and the Passo del Mercante. Locri and Kaulonia built forts with massive fortification walls at Monte Palazzi and Monte Gallo, on the opposite banks of the Allaro River. An inspection of Torre Camillari and Monte Castello, two coastal sites near the estuary of the Allaro said to have been fortified by Kaulonia, revealed no similar defensive structures. Torre Camillari could have been a Locrian settlement, since it lies on the right bank of the river, but there is no conclusive evidence that it was fortified. A reconnaissance of the summit of Monte Granieri, a mountain overlooking the right bank of the Allaro to the east of Monte Palazzi, did not yield traces of ancient occupation. Fieldwalking in the upper Torbido Valley at 10 km to the southwest of Monte Palazzi, at Poggio Pilazzo and Monte Limina (where a scatter of ancient roof tiles was found) determined that intersignaling with Monte Palazzi would have feasible from both locations. An alignment of stone blocks along the summit of Poggio Pilazzo may belong to a defensive wall. Greek rooftiles and a fragmented iron projectile point were also found during a survey of località Palazzo on the Piano Melìa near Passo del Mercante, on a terrace overlooking the town of Cittanova and the chora of ancient Medma. These finds are indicative of the presence of an ancient fortification or observation post (possibly a watchtower). Località Palazzo lies on the most direct route between Locri and the Tyrrhenian coast, at 10.5 km to the west of Monte Limina. An adjacent site, where fieldwalking yielded Neolithic stone tools, architectural remains, and Greek ceramics, is even more intriguing, since it may have marked the boundary of the Locrian chora; it probably was visible from Locri itself.


P. VISONÀ, University of Kentucky Archaeological Investigations at Monte Palazzi

(Passo Croceferrata, Grotteria, Calabria) and in the Locrian chora in 2010-2012, in:

P. VISONÀ, A Forgotten Roman Settlement in the Veneto. University of Kentucky

Geoarchaeological Investigations at Tezze di Arzignano (Vicenza, Italy) in 2012, in: