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Ancient World Seminar: Martijn van Leusen & Peter Attema (Groningen) – "The Avellino Event: cultural and demographic effects of the great Bronze Age eruption of Mount Vesuvius"

When:Mo 14-12-2015 16:15 - 17:30
Where:Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (Oude Boteringestraat 38), room 130
Click to enlarge. Poster design by Caroline van Toor.
Click to enlarge. Poster design by Caroline van Toor.

Around 1995 BC, during the Early Bronze Age, a giant eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried a flourishing landscape of villages and fields in the plains of Campania under more than a meter of ash. Inhabitants of sites such as Nola (‘the Bronze Age Pompeii’) could barely escape with their lives. Italian archaeological research since the 1980s has conclusively shown that the population of the Campanian plain did not fully recover for several centuries after this so-called ‘Avellino Event’. Oddly, no one has yet wondered what might have happened to the fleeing population of Campania. This new NWO ‘Free Competition’ research program pursues the hypothesis that they found refuge in the wetland coastal plains of south Lazio. Long-standing Dutch geoarchaeological research in this region has shown the presence of a continuous sedimentary record for the period of interest and recently identified the Avellino volcanic ash as a chronological marker. Using a combination of archeological, archeometric and paleo-ecological approaches, the Groningen/Leiden team intends to document the significant demographic, environmental and cultural impacts that would result from the presence of the postulated Early Bronze Age refugee population in South Lazio.

Peter Attema , professor of Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Groningen, is an expert in landscape and survey archaeology. He is director of various research projects in Italy, such as the long running Pontine Region Project , and the excavations at Crustumerium and Francavilla. Martijn van Leusen , associate professor and researcher at the University of Groningen, specializes in the methodology of landscape archaeological research, and the application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). His research focuses on Protohistoric Italy, notably the regions of Lazio and Calabria.

Together with Mike Field (University of Leiden), Peter Attema and Martijn van Leusen have recently been awarded a substantial grant from NWO for their research project ‘The Avellino Event: cultural and demographic effects of the great Bronze Age eruption of Mount Vesuvius.’