The indigenous settlement of Monte Iato (western Sicily): an ethnoarchaeometric approach for outlining local Archaic ceramic productions

Giuseppe Montana, Mohr, Kistler, Francesca Spatafora

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2 Citations (Scopus)


An ethnoarchaeometric approach has been followed to identify the textural and compositional characteristics of the ceramic pastes produced in ancient Iaitas/Ietas, an indigenous site located in western Sicily on Monte Iato, a few tens of kilometres from Palermo. This approach was primarily motivated by the lack of discovered Archaic kilns or production sites/workshops and the inability to identify reference groups. Raw clays were sampled in the territory of San Cipirello and San Giuseppe Iato (today’s municipalities both sited on the northern slopes of Monte Iato), together with representative historic tiles and bricks locally produced until fairly recently. Grain-size analysis and experimental firings were performed on the clay samples. A significant number of archaeological ceramic samples (incised and painted indigenous pottery dating back to the seventh–fifth centuries BCE) from stratigraphic excavations on Monte Iato, and hypothesized as local productions on a stylistic-morphological basis, was carefully selected for archaeometric analysis. This set of samples (90 in total, comprising raw clays, historic tiles/bricks and archaeological ceramics) underwent a combined chemical and mineralogical-petrographic analysis to identify any possible compositional matching. This approach enabled the identification of minero-petrographic and chemical markers pertinent to the indigenous Archaic pottery produced at Monte Iato, although no evidence of coeval ceramic kilns has been found so far. Local raw clay sources have been documented and some significant points of the chaîne opératoire adopted in antiquity have been noted (clay mixing and tempering practices). Attesting Monte Iato as a centre of ceramic production and defining both the microscopic fabric and the average composition of local pastes open up new perspectives in the complex issue concerning the production and regional circulation of incised and painted indigenous ceramics in Archaic Sicily.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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