This research program is designed to test a clear hypothesis – that a refugee population from Campania settled in the south Lazio coastal plains immediately after the Avellino eruption – by tracing the environmental and cultural effects that such a population influx would have caused. For the most part it is based on the application of tried-and-tested methods and approaches in archaeological and environmental research, in which the applicants have long and demonstrated experience, but a small program of more innovative (and risky) ‘flanking’ archaeometric studies of human skeletal material and of selected pottery is foreseen in the hope that we will be able to provide direct proof for the presence of Campanian immigrants and their household wares in South Lazio immediately after the Avellino Event.
The desktop and field studies build on a body of existing knowledge and data derived from three decades of Dutch archaeological and environmental research in south Lazio, and on a similar body of research built up by Italian researchers since the 1980s for the Campanian plain. Following an initial phase in which the team will conduct a desktop reassessment of the available evidence for optimal targeting of field studies, an extensive manual and mechanical coring program, using prospection approaches developed in the Netherlands (Tol et al. 2004), will be conducted to obtain detailed records of geostratigraphy and subsurface archaeological indicators. The evidence for demographic and economic/ecological impacts produced by this coring program cannot prove directly that the hypothetical migration took place. Hence, following analysis of the data thus obtained, a selection will be made of sites and zones that have a proven stratigraphy dating to just after the Avellino Event. These will be targeted for more intensive study and sampling in cores and test pits, to obtain cultural and environmental proof for the local presence of immigrants from Campania.
Should the research lead to a rejection of our main hypothesis, then the program will still result in major advances to our understanding of the archaeology of the protohistoric period in south Lazio. We will then have produced detailed reconstructions of its geostratigraphy (including the occurrence of the AV-ash), its vegetation history, and its Early to Middle Bronze Age settlement history. The feasibility of the flanking archaeometric studies will depend on the availability of suitable bone and pottery samples for study from already excavated sites or from the test pits proposed here. If these studies fail to provide direct proof they will still result in the publication of valuable ‘background’ isotopic and petrographic data as a foundation for future research into migration and exchange in Central Italy.
Crucially, the research requires the multi- and interdisciplinary use of geological, geographical, palaeoecological and archaeological approaches. The main applicant’s research group has two decades of experience with this type of research in Italy and is cognizant of the effort that is needed for such programs to run effectively.
Tol, A., P. Verhagen, A. Borsboom & M. Verbruggen (2004). Prospectief boren; een studie naar de betrouwbaarheid en toepasbaarheid van booronderzoek in de prospectiearcheologie. RAAP-rapport 1000. RAAP Archeologisch Adviesbureau, Amsterdam