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The Chora of Croton 1

The Neolithic Settlement at Capo Alfiere

By Jon Morter

Publication Year: 2010

From 1974 to the present, the Institute of Classical Archaeology (ICA) at the University of Texas at Austin has carried out archaeological excavations and surveys in ancient territories (chorae) in southern Italy. This wide-ranging investigation, which covers a large number of sites and a time period ranging from prehistory to the Middle Ages, has unearthed a wealth of new information about ancient rural economies and cultures in the region. These discoveries will be published in two multivolume series (Metaponto and Croton). This volume on the Neolithic settlement at Capo Alfiere is the first in the Croton series. The Chora of Croton 1 reports the excavation results of a remarkable Neolithic site at Capo Alfiere on the Ionian coast. Capo Alfiere is one of a very few early inhabitation sites in this area to have been excavated extensively, with a full team of scientific specialists providing interdisciplinary studies on early farming and animal husbandry. It provides comprehensive documentation of the economy, material culture, and way of life in the central Mediterranean in the sixth and fifth millennia BC. Most notable are the remains of a wattle-and-daub hut enclosed within a massive stone wall. Unique for this area, this well-preserved structure may have been used for special purposes such as ritual, as well as for habitation. The presence of Stentinello wares shows that the range of this pottery type extended further east than previously thought and casts new light on the development of ceramics in the area. JON MORTER was a field director for ICA excavations at Metaponto and Croton in southern Italy, and Chersonesos in Crimea. The ICA Croton project was the subject of his dissertation, for which he received a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. He had taken up a position teaching at the College of Charleston (South Carolina) shortly before his death. JOHN ROBB is Reader in European Prehistory and editor of the Cambridge Archaeological Journal at Cambridge University.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. vii-viii

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Special Acknowledgments

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pp. ix

The two excavation seasons at Capo Alfiere in 1987 and 1990, and the study season in 1991, were, as all of ICA’s projects in its first quarter century of existence in southern Italy, made possible by generous contributions from a number of loyal supporters. ...

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pp. x-xii

This opus benefited greatly from the diverse input of all of the members of my dissertation committee, and I would like to thank them for their efforts on my behalf, both in this instance and in the past. I am particularly indebted to Professor James A. Neely, who oversaw the production of this tome and my graduate career in general...

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Foreword: Capo Alfiere and the Chora of Croton

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pp. xiii-xiv

Excavating a Neolithic site in the territory of ancient Croton might seem an odd choice for the Institute of Classical Archaeology, given that ICA’s primary focus comes four millennia later, in the period of Greek and Roman occupation. The decision was, however, part of an overall research strategy that originated in ICA’s early projects in the chora of Metaponto during the mid-1970s and early 1980s. ...

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pp. xv-xxv

Jon Morter’s sudden death was tragic for all those who knew him. This volume is dedicated to Jon and, as was his original Ph.D. thesis, to his daughters, Kate and Clare Morter, and to his wife, Hillary Hutchinson. We wish also to remember his parents, Ron and Margaret Morter, and hope that in this book they may understand the high professional and personal esteem in which their son was held by his peers and friends ...

Part One. The Neolithic Settlement at Capo Alfiere

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Chapter One. The Site of Capo Alfiere

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pp. 1-4

Capo Alfiere is a small promontory (Fig. 1.1) on Italy’s Ionian coast, located about halfway down the eastern coast of Calabria, which is the southernmost region of the Italian peninsula (Fig. 1.2). The promontory is approximately 8 km south of the harbor town of Crotone. This is the largest nearby population center and has been such since the founding of a Greek colony there more than two and a half millennia ago. ...

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Chapter Two. Cultural Setting

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pp. 5-13

The accumulating evidence of the last decade now makes it possible to begin a review of the southern Italian Neolithic with a summary of the absolute (radiocarbon) dating evidence available, rather than immediately tackling the precarious edifice built around relative chronologies. ...

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Chapter Three. Environmental Setting

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pp. 15-21

When discussing the placement of settlements among preindustrial societies, it is essential to address environmental constraints. This is particularly true for Neolithic communities, which are presumed to be locally autonomous and economically wholly agrarian. ...

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Chapter Four. History of Research at Capo Alfiere

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pp. 23-31

The Neolithic site at Capo Alfiere entered the archaeological literature in 1973, when its existence was recorded by staff from the Museo Archeologico di Crotone (Salvatori 1973). Material was being brought to the surface by agricultural activity and erosion of the cliff where the site sits. ...

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Chapter Five. Stratigraphy Interpreted

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pp. 33-41

As currently reconstructed, the stratigraphy of this excavated portion of Capo Alfiere consists of two main strata of Neolithic date. For the purposes of this discussion, the lowest stratum, or level, has been designated Stratum I, while the upper is called Stratum II (Fig. 5.1). ...

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Chapter Six. Architectural and Structural Features

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pp. 43-57

The work at Capo Alfiere has demonstrated the presence of two kinds of architectural features—walls and cobble pavements—plus pits and one other enigmatic entity. These were the first excavations at a site of this period for this area, so little was known beforehand regarding what might be found. ...

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Chapter Seven. The Ceramic Assemblage

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pp. 59-87

The study of Stentinello-style decorated ceramics has been long neglected.1 The subject warrants a major study effort all to itself, not simply for the Crotone area, but throughout the zone from which these pieces are recovered. Since the first description of this pottery in the late 19th century (Orsi 1890)...

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Chapter Eight. Stone Tools

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pp. 89-109

This chapter will consider the three types of worked stone found at Capo Alfiere: chipped stone, polished stone, and ground stone. The nomenclature for the last two categories is somewhat arbitrary, but it serves to separate two functionally distinct types of artifact. ...

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Chapter Nine. Miscellaneous Objects

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pp. 111-114

This section documents other small objects recovered from the excavations. Primary categorization has been accomplished by function, where intimated, and/or material type, which is somewhat arbitrary and less than satisfactory. ...

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Chapter Ten. Organic Remains

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pp. 115-125

This chapter presents the evidence currently available for the nonartifactual organic material, particularly the seeds and animal bones. “Nonartifactual” means the remains of plants and animals not modified for use as tools or ornaments, or for other purposes. ...

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Chapter Eleven. Local Comparative Material

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pp. 127-135

Some information is available to place the site of Capo Alfiere within its local archaeological context. The excavations were conceived partly in order to refine understanding of data from the University of Texas’s archaeological reconnaissance work in the area south of Crotone. ...

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Chapter Twelve. Conclusions and Future Directions

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pp. 137-143

The Capo Alfiere excavations began with modest objectives that were overtaken by the subsequent unexpected discoveries at the site. The initial intent was to recover sufficient information to begin a reconstruction of the sequence of agricultural economic exploitation of the Crotone area. ...

Part Two. Environment and Economy

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Chapter Thirteen. Geomorphology

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pp. 145-148

The Crotone area (Fig. 13.1) has a geologic setting strikingly similar to that of the territory of Metaponto, with a basically similar settlement pattern as well (Folk 1982). Geology is summarized in Figure 13.2 (see also Ogniben 1973; Selli 1977; Nalin et. al., 2007; and Fogli 238 and 243 of the geological map of Italy). ...

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Chapter Fourteen. Faunal Analysis: Bones from Animals of Economic Importance

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pp. 149-165

The animal bone remains from the Middle Neolithic site of Capo Alfiere come from excavations carried out in the summers of 1987 and 1990. The finds from the earlier excavation were studied and published by Salvatore Scali of the Laboratorio di Bioarcheologia in Rome (Scali 1990). ...

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Chapter Fifteen. Faunal Analysis: Small Mammalian Bones

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pp. 167-173

The identification of small mammalian bones is based on published data (Niethammer and Krapp 1978; Vigne 1995; Ujhelyi 1994). Most small mammalian species can be identified from teeth, mandibles and skulls. Postcranial elements—limbs, vertebra and ribs—are more difficult to identify. ...

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Chapter Sixteen. Archaeobotany

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pp. 175-188

In 1987, the Institute of Classical Archaeology conducted a program of archaeobotanical research along with its first campaign of archaeological excavations at Capo Alfiere. This project was also continued in the second excavation campaign during the summer of 1990 (Morter 1990, 1992, 1994...

Part Three. Object Studies

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Chapter Seventeen. Bone Artifacts

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pp. 189-196

Bone, antler, and teeth are the hardest tissues and raw materials provided by vertebrates.1 The skeletal system provides mechanical support and contributes to the movement of live animals. The primary role of teeth is the mastication of hard food, but—especially canine teeth...

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Chapter Eighteen. Thin Sections (Notes on an Eastern Calabrian Assemblage in the Stentinello Tradition)

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pp. 197-202

Recent excavations (1987, 1990) at the site of Capo Alfiere on the eastern seaboard of Calabria, Italy, have brought to light a stratified deposit of Middle Neolithic date (5th millennium BC).1 Petrographic analysis by thin-section and XRD mineralogical analysis have been used to discern and contrast local production of impressed finewares in the Stentinello tradition with painted fineware...

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Chapter Nineteen. Tokens (Four Pieces of Clay: “Tokens” from Capo Alfiere, Calabria)

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pp. 203-208

For some years, Professor Denise Schmandt-Besserat has been documenting the presence of small geometric clay artifacts, that she labels ‘tokens’, at Middle Eastern sites of all periods from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age (see most recently Schmandt-Besserat 1992). ...

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Catalog of Ceramic, Lithic, and Other Finds

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pp. 209-272

Because of the special circumstances of this publication, this catalog was compiled in a somewhat unconventional way. Ordinarily, finds are illustrated following a systematic review of a collection, in which pieces to illustrate are selected either according to a set rule...


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pp. 273-285


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pp. 287-290

E-ISBN-13: 9780292792876
E-ISBN-10: 0292792875
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292722767
Print-ISBN-10: 0292722761

Page Count: 316
Illustrations: 689 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2010

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Subject Headings

  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Italy -- Crotone Region.
  • Crotone Region (Italy) -- Antiquities.
  • Neolithic period -- Italy -- Crotone Region.
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