A Central Sicilian Landscape: Settlement and Society in the Territory of Ancient Morgantina (5000 BC - AD 50)

Thompson, Stephen M, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Damon, Fred, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Hantman, Jeffrey L., Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Wattenmaker, Patricia A., Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Plog, Stephen, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Bell, Malcolm III, Department of Art, University of Virginia

This dissertation focuses upon patterns of regional settlement and land use in the territory of ancient Morgantina in east-central Sicily from the Neolithic (c. 5000 BC) to the onset of the Roman Imperial period (c. AD 50). The primary data employed in this study come from a program of intensive, systematic archaeological survey carried out within a 150 km2 area centered upon Morgantina. Fieldwork was conducted over the course of three field seasons between 1992 and 1994.

In its initial conception, this project aimed to gather data capable of illuminating changes in local patterns of regional socio-economic organization corresponding to the period of "Hellenization" of the Sicilian interior (c. 750 - 400 BC). Because of the extensive excavations conducted at Morgantina over the past forty years, this site plays an important role in Hellenization studies on the island and beyond. Until now, however, the archaeologically intractable goal of identifying the cultural/ethnic identity of Morgantina's occupants has tended to dominate discussion. This project, on the other hand, explores the process of Hellenization in terms of its regional organizational correlates. In so doing, it is argued, a necessary foundation is laid for a more complete understanding of local identity. In addition to its strong focus upon the changes wrought upon local society following Greek colonization in Sicily, this dissertation also charts continuing changes in regional settlement and land use through the end of the first millennium BC and the final abandonment of Morgantina.

As is argued in this study, the period of Greek influence and hegemony in the Morgantine region can be profitably understood in terms of "medium range" ־
transformations to systems of social, cultural, economic, and political organization.
Rather than obviating the traditional concern with shorter term, event-based historical interpretation so characteristic of much Classical Archaeology, the approach exemplified by this project aims to provide a broader context within which can be situated the surviving documentary record of the region.

Although this dissertation devotes the bulk of its attention to the first millennium BC, patterns of prehistoric settlement in the region beginning in the Neolithic are also offered. In addition to filling out the prehistoric map of central Sicily, the regional record documented by this project provides concrete evidence that the Morgantine was characterized, over the long-term, by a series of cycles of settlement expansion into and retraction from the region. Despite such oscillation between expansion and decline/abandonment, individual episodes in this long-term process display unique regional signatures, thus suggesting that they are best understood in terms of their historical and developmental specificity rather than more generalized models. Situating first millennium BC Morgantina within this longer-term developmental and regional framework also helps to reestablish a local as opposed to a foreign perspective upon historical change.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-04-29 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:36:58.

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