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Research Groningen Institute of Archaeology Research Archaeological Research of the GIA in the Sibaritide

Completed and in progress PhD studies

Completed PhD theses

(2007) Jacobsen, Jan Kindberg , Greek Pottery on the Timpone della Motta and in the Sibaritide from c. 780 to 620 BC. Reception, distribution and an evaluation of Greek pottery as a source material for the study of Greek influence before and after the founding of ancient Sybaris. University of Groningen. Supervisors: prof. P.A.J. Attema, Prof. M. Kleibrink. Promoter prof. dr. P.A.J. Attema.


In the traditional research perspective the Greek pottery from the Timpone della Motta has been a dominant source material in the reconstruction of Greek frequentation and of contacts further along the Ionian coast prior to the foundation of ancient Sybaris (720/710 BC). This also holds for the later Greek colonization of the Sibaritide. Based on the limited range of early Greek imports, a variation of suggestions to the nature of the contacts between indigenous groups in the Sibaritide and the carriers of the Greek imports have been brought forward by various authors.

The distribution of early Greek pottery in the Sibaritide is explained by a number of different arrival theories such as circulation of imports in autonomous indigenous networks, direct contact between indigenous groups and “Euboean” sailors going in the direction of Ischia, or “Greek Corinthian prospectors”, mainly operating from the Salento area. In the study of subsequent periods Greek pottery dating to the last quarter of the 8th century BC and onwards, has been used as an empirical barometer in the reconstruction of the foundation of ancient Sybaris and its relations to the indigenous Sibaritide.

(2012) Carmelo Colelli , Ceramica d'impasto da Francavilla Marittima: ceramica grigia e altri produzioni ceramiche Circolazione di merci e modelli nella Sibaritide (e in Italia meridionale) nel'eta Ferro. Supervisors: prof. P.A.J. Attema, dr. J. Jacobsen. Promoter prof. dr. P.A.J. Attema.


This PhD presents a study on the Iron Age impasto and grey ware pottery from excavations conducted between 1991 and 2004 and from 2009 to 2010 by the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA) on the Timpone della Motta at Francavilla Marittima (northern Calabria, Italy). The majority of the ceramics included in this study stems from excavations carried out on the summit of the Timpone della Motta, but also pottery from the trench in the Area Rovitti has been included. All the investigated material is presented in a catalogue with a standardised description and a drawing of every item including all the impasto and grey ware found excavations campaigns of 2009 and 2010 in the Area Rovitti. The approach taken in this study allows to study contacts between Francavilla and the Sibaritide and other areas of Southern and Central Italy. Trade and contacts are welldocumented by the circulation of goods (imports and exports) and ideas (diffusion of certain shapes and types). Apart from imports in Francavilla and the Sibaritide from the Greek and probably the Phoenician world, objects also arrived from Apulia and Campania, while indigenous Oinotrian productions spread to Central and Southern Calabria, Campania, Etruria and maybe to Sicily. The archaeological material from the Timpone presents us with a unique selection of pottery with local, regional, interregional and Mediterranean provenances.

(2012) Stefan Elevelt , Subsistence and social stratification in Northern Ionic Calabria from the Middle Bronze Age until the Early Iron Age: the archaeozoological evidence. Supervisor: prof. P.A.J. Attema, dr. W. Prummel. Promoter prof. dr. P.A.J. Attema.


This PhD research aims to reconstruct subsistence strategies of three settlements in the Sibaritide, South Italy from the Middle Bronze Age (MBA) to the Early Iron Age (EIA) with the intermediate periods of the Recent Bronze Age (RBA) and Final Bronze Age (FBA). During this long period between ca. 1700 and ca. 700 BC, the study area was characterised by a process of settlement formation and expansion and profound social and economic changes. In past archaeological research there has been relatively little attention for the potential offered by the archaeozoological evidence, in particular the contribution of the analysis of animal remains in the reconstruction of socio-economic development (cf. Ch.1.2.2). In this thesis, questions on the relationship between strategies of animal exploitation and other economic activities are addressed while taking into account factors such as settlement expansion, population growth and the productive potential of site territories. Moreover it discusses the role of animals in community life from a social perspective, both of wild and domesticated species.

(2014) H. Feiken ,  Dealing with biases. Three geo-archaeological approaches to the hidden landscapes of Italy. Supervisor dr. P.M. van Leusen. Promotores: Prof. dr. P.A.J. Attema and Prof. J. Sevink.


Feiken’s PhD thesis covers a broad range of geoarchaeological approaches to the understanding of systematic biases in our archaeological records, using case studies from the two main Italian areas studied by the Groningen Institute of Archaeology: the Pontine Region in south Lazio, and the Raganello Basin in northern Calabria. The research focuses on a) geological biases affecting the study of protohistoric remains in the sedimentary part of the Pontine plain, b) the development of a detailed landscape classification approach with which to model and test site location preferences and survey biases in the upland/mountain zones of both study areas, and c) the development and evaluation, with colleagues from the University of Utrecht, of an innovative computerised landscape evolution model for a test area in the Raganello Basin uplands. This very innovative and interdisciplinary work was conducted at the University of Groningen within the framework of the NWO-VIDI project 'Hidden Landscapes' under the direction of Martijn van Leusen, with Prof. Peter Attema and Prof. Jan Sevink as promotores.

(2016) Francesca Ippolito , Before the Iron Age. The oldest settlements in the hinterland of the Sibaritide (Calabria,Italy), supervisor and promoter: prof. P.A.J. Attema and prof. M. Pacciarelli.


Being part of a broader research project into the Bronze Age settlement dynamics of the Sibaritide and its hinterland, carried out within the framework of the Raganello Archaeological Project (RAP) of the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA), this thesis focuses on the protohistoric pottery data collected at sites investigated in the initial stages of the RAP and that excavated during the investigations by the GIA at the protohistoric settlement of Timpone della Motta at Francavilla Marittima.

The study starts out with a summary of current knowledge on pre- and protohistoric settlements in the Sibaritide. In the literature only little evidence exists for human settlement during the period between the Neolithic and the beginning of the Bronze Age. However, from the Middle Bronze Age 2 onwards a high number of sites is recorded distributed throughout the hilly strip surrounding the Sybaris Plain. Based above all on the research of Renato Peroni and his team, it appears that the development of Middle Bronze Age settlements was followed in the Recent Bronze Age by a slight decrease in the number of sub-coastal sites oriented towards the more hilly internal area; in the Final Bronze Age the number of sites in the internal highlands increases, and at the same time there is a significant growth in size of a few larger settlements that are strategically placed overlooking the plain. In order to contextualize the pottery, a reconstruction of its territorial context was carried out, discussing possible landscape archaeology approaches.

(2016) Marianna Fasanella Masci , La produzione della ceramica geometrica enotria nella Sibaritide durante l'etá del Ferro. Studio comparativo sulle tecnologie di foggiatura. Supervisors: prof. P.A.J. Attema and dr A.J. Nijboer.


This study investigates the production of Oenotrian Geometric pottery, also known as matt-painted pottery, during the Early Iron Age at three sites of the Sibaritide region in northern Calabria, Italy (Francavilla Marittima, Torre Mordillo and Castrovillari). The main purpose of the research was to identify the chaîne opératoire of this decorated pottery category, and to identify its modes of production through the application of macroscopic, microscopic and X-ray analyses. In this way a representative sample of the full range of shapes produced in the period between the 9th and the 7th centuries BC was investigated, taken from different functional contexts (domestic, funerary and ritual). The approach chosen allowed to determine various partly contemporary modes of production that over time evolved from handmade to wheel-turning manufacture. Based on these observations, the role of the geometric pottery production within the dynamics of the changing practical and social organization could be inferred as well as the distribution of specific productions within the Sibaritide and outside of it.

(2016) Wieke de Neef, Surface (2016) , <> Subsurface. A methodological study of protohistoric settlement and land use in Calabria (Italy). Supervisors: prof. P.A.J. Attema and dr. P.M. van Leusen.


Small concentrations of archaeological material found on the present-day surface are usually not investigated beyond their detection. This is especially true for poorly preserved artefact concentrations dating to the Metal Ages (ca. 3000-800 BC) in Italy, which do not seem very promising for further research. However, the fact that they are found by many archaeological surveys in very different landscape zones indicates that they must reflect regular human activity and land use strategies.

In my PhD project, I have tested and evaluated multi-disciplinary methods to study such small artefact concentrations. The aim of my research was twofold: to refine fieldwork methods to extract more information from such sites, and to use the results to come to a better interpretation of Metal Age settlement and land use strategies. I have conducted systematic field work on a dataset of 155 Metal Age surface scatters in the mountainous Raganello basin in Calabria (southern Italy), using a range of archaeological, geophysical, and pedological approaches.

The close integration of the datasets produced by different techniques has led to some remarkable discoveries, including a cremation cemetery on top of a mountain and a densely populated area of single Late Bronze Age farmsteads. Their inhabitants owned large storage vessels which until now were thought to be rare elite goods, and some sites are associated with rectangular buildings, which so far is unique in Italian Bronze Age studies. In other places, the prehistoric landscape is very much obscured by natural slope processes. The overall conclusion is that even small, unpromising archaeological sites can yield a wealth of information about past rural life, provided that they are investigated in a high-resolution, multi-disciplinary approach using non-invasive and (minimally) invasive techniques.

(2005) Mater, Benoit , Patterns in Pottery, a Comparative Study of pottery production in Salento, Sibaritide and Agro Pontino in the context of urbanization and colonization in the first millennium BC. Free University of Amsterdam. Supervisors: prof. P.A.J. Attema, Prof. G.-J. Burgers and Prof. D.G. Yntema. Promoter: Prof. D.G. Yntema.


This study shows the development of pottery production in three regions in Italy. The basic principles of this research is the elucidation of both technical and social aspects of pottery production. The overall questions in this research result from the archaeological database of the first millennium BC and are aimed at the developments in pottery production and social organization of the societies concerned in the regions Salento, Sibaritide and Agro Pontino. This study shows that in the first millennium BC both in diachronic and in synchronic perspective there is no uniform development of pottery production in the Italian areas concerned. As far as the period involved in this region concerned, it is important to note that the moments of changes in the organization of production are not constant with the boundaries of the chronological division of Iron Age, Archaic, Classic, Hellenistic and Early Roma periods as used by archaeologists. We may therefore conclude that the development of pottery production in these areas is not bound by either time or culture.

(2003) Joolen, Ester van , Archaeological land evaluation : a reconstruction of the suitability of ancient landscapes for various land uses in Italy focused on the first millennium BC. University of Groningen. Supervisors: prof. P.A.J. Attema, Prof. G.-J. Burgers and Prof. J. Sevink. Promoter: prof. P.A.J. Attema, Prof. J. Sevink.


The aim of this thesis is to provide an overview of the potential land use suitability of three Central- and South Italian (Agro Pontino, Salento Isthmus and Sibaritide) landscapes in the past (from the Bronze Age until the Roman period). This suitability can be an explanation for settlement location (also in the past). The method used for the determination of the suitability of land for special types of agriculture is called ‘land evaluation’ in this thesis. The method ‘land evaluation’ is not new (FAO 1976), but in this research it is further adjusted and focused on archeological questions. The method is based on two pillars: the land qualities (physical, geomorphological and chemical characteristics of a part of a landscape) and the land utilisation types. By comparing the requirements of the land use types with the characteristics of the ground, a suitability classification can be made. The present soil qualities in the three research areas deviate from those in the past, because of, for example, natural and/or anthropogenic erosional and depositional processes. Due to this, landscape reconstructions were carried out first, from which more (Agro Pontino) or less (the other two areas) was shown what these areas appeared to be in the past, and how they could be used for agricultural purposes. Many geomorphological investigations in the research areas gave a lot of valuable information. In the land evaluation procedure, each research area is divided in three smaller parts, so-called land systems, representing an area or areas with common landforms (such as hills or river valleys), soils and vegetation (CSIRO 1963). Each land system (such as a dune-landscape) was examined according to a fixed set of possible qualities, for example, texture, soil type and stoniness in the upper part of the soil. These results are shown in chapter three of this thesis. Chapter four describes the land use types in Central-and South Italy, as reconstructed by Forni (1990) for the three research periods (Bronze Age, Iron Age and Archaic/Roman period). Forni used ancient ploughs or parts of ploughs (discoveries (the oldest plough found in Italy dates to 2000 BC)), fossil plough furrows and land use types portrayed on ancient pottery or walls in caves, to make these reconstructions. To carry out a thorough investigation, he did not only use literary data from the ancient sources. Comparing all data, for the one hand derived from the landscape-research (all landscape characteristics) and for the other from the archeological/historical research (all agrarian/technological data), was made easier by using the computer-program ALES. After entering the above-mentioned data the suitability of a special landform for a special land use-type can be determined.

(2002) Veenman, Froukje , Reconstructing the Pasture, a Reconstruction of Pastoral Land use in Italy in the First Millennium BC. Free University of Amsterdam. Supervisors: prof. P.A.J. Attema, Prof. G.-J. Burgers and Prof. D.G. Yntema. Promoter: Prof. D.G. Yntema.


This PhD project aimed to reconstruct the actual (as opposed to potential) land use in the first millennium BC in three Italian coastal landscapes: the Agro Pontino (south of Rome), the Brindisino (Apulia) and the Sibaritide (Calabria). Different patterns of land use were reconstructed on the basis of data from ethnographic studies, archaeo-zoological and botanical analyses and off-site find patterns, emphasizing the influence of pastoralism in the structuring of the landscape. For a long time, reconstruction of land use in these three regions was aimed at agricultural patterns rather than pastoral patterns. Therefore, to correct/ restore this one-sided view and to reach a balanced reconstruction of land use in Early Italy, further research had to be done into pastoral land use. In particular the model of transhumance which was used mainly since the sixties of the 20th century to explain pastoral aspects, needed revision and extension. The Sibaritide contains diverse vegetation, summer and winter pastures could be close located to each other in these regions. This offers good possibilities for short-distance-transhumance.

In progress

Maurizio Crudo , Greek and indigenous cultural encounters in South Italy. A pottery perspective. Supervisors: prof. P.A.J. Attema and dr A.J. Nijboer.


This project concerns the early Greek colonization of South Italy during the late 8th century BC. During this period both ancient sources and archeological facts point at a permanent establishment of Greek groups, that prior to this moment had settled in indigenous villages or in the frequented zone near maritime stopovers and places of supply. Taking indigenous sites frequented by Hellenic groups as point of departure, either those with traces of permanent settlement or with evidence of Greek presence in their vicinity, such as Timpone della Motta at Francavilla Marittima and Canale-Janchina in the hinterland of Locri, the research aims to delineate, through the study of appropriate ceramic classes, the early relations between the Greeks and indigenous groups. The archaeological pottery record of both sites is characterized by a hybrid production showing a continuation in the use of local fabric features, but with a clear Greek technological background. The pottery is actually represented differently in each area of the same village, and varies between different communities. This would indicate that the ratio of indigenous and Greek inspired pottery depends on differences in consumption behavior, which in turn may be linked to differences in the civil ‘corpus’ between indigenous and immigrant groups, who would then use dissimilar shapes and dimensions for socially distinct practices.

Neeltje Oome , Hellenistic Ceramics and Sites in the Sibaritide . Supervisor and promoter: prof. P.A.J. Attema.


The Sibaritide is a coastal plain situated in the north of Calabria. Aim of the research is to understand the regional settlement patterns of this territory during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC as the outcome of longstanding contacts between the indigenous population and the Greek world. The research is based on a systematic study of the Hellenistic ceramics found during the field surveys of the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA) in the Sibaritide. So far it has resulted in a catalogue and typo-chronology of the ceramics found. This catalogue will be used to date and phase the rural settlements in order to compile chronological and functional distribution maps. The places where the pottery has been found (‘sites’) will be read in their environmental context. Besides archaeological data, also ancient written sources will be used for the socio-economic and political interpretations of the settlements found. Finally, the results will be compared with other areas and Hellenistic sites in the south of Italy, especially Calabria and Basilicata.

Last modified:18 May 2021 1.00 p.m.