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History of Sicily Until the End of the Bronze Age

La Longue Duree´: The Island in a Big Sea

Formation of the Island

In order to learn the history of a geographical area, one must look beyond punctular events. While studying the development of bronze tools, Neolithic exchange networks, or any other point in human history may be important, in a very real sense what happens during a point in human history had its foundations in geological time. Thus, the saga of Sicily begins long before the first human stepped upon the island.

While geological changes occurred long before, it was in the Late Triassic period that the first glimpse of the island of Sicily developed (Henriquet et al. 2019: 5). The continual shifting of tectonic plates during the Tertiary period forced the African plate under the European, resulting in an uplift of the Earth’s crust creating land masses, on the sea floor at first but ultimately creating islands above sea level. These complex transformations molded not only Sicily but the entirety of the region, including the Alps, Apennines, Sardinia, Corsica, and Calabria (Schmitt et al. 2021: 2).

It was not until the Neogene and Quaternary Periods that Sicilian land masses developed exponentially. During the Upper Miocene epoch, these land masses would begin to take their familiar shapes (Henriquet et al. 2019: 2-5). By the Lower Pliocene, three points in the island began to form: the Hyblaean Plateau in the southeast, terragenous sediments in the central-western part of the early island, and the northern region represented by the limestone mountains of Palermo and the metamorphic mountains of Nebrodi and Peloritani (Leighton 1999: 12); the first formed an island of its own south of the other conjoined two mountainous regions. During the Middle Pleistocene, the earliest volcanic activity at Etna occurred (Leighton 1999: 13) which began the stages of connecting the two large masses of the Hyblaean plateau to the northern regions of the island.

Of particular interest to human involvement on Sicily is the theorized Messina Formation, a land bridge between mainland Italy and Sicily likely formed by tectonic uplift during the Middle Pleistocene. As these changes occurred, marine terraces in coastal plains formed (Vattano et al. 2017: 91), along with very many caves along the limestone cliffs (Leighton 1999: 13). By the Upper Pleistocene, during the glacial ice age, the sea level had dropped by up to 120m, changing the landscape of the Mediterranean (Leighton 1999: 14).

Throughout the Upper Pleistocene, groups of small glaciers remained over the highest slopes of the Apennine mountains down to Calabria (Leighton 1999: 15). This ice age resulted in a much broader landscape than is seen today. Sardinia and Corsica became one island, the north Adriatic Sea became steppe-like, and Sicily was connected more widely to Italy but also to the Maltese islands (Leighton 1999: 14) and intermittently to Tunisia (Scmidtt et al 2021: 9). These connections in conjunction with ice age environmental factors play key roles in the spreading of fauna and later ancient humans.

At the end of the Pleistocene/Paleolithic, the climate rapidly changed, and as glaciers disappeared, sea levels rose finally creating the geographical boundaries that we see today (Leighton 1999: 16). At this point, both flora and fauna had been flourishing on the island for some time, and early man had been living in the limestone caves along the shore since at least the Upper Paleolithic (Leighton 1999: 11). How did they survive? A look into the resources available on the island will explain.

Resources Available

The natural resources within Sicily changed as time progressed, but the island after its formation did offer largely self-sufficient resources for survival (Bonanno 2008: 27). These range from resources for security, including housing, clothing, and defense, to resources for sustenance, including fertile soils, fresh water, mammals, birds, and fish, and several wild flora, to resources for occupational needs, including clay, stone, wood, and volcanic materials. While Sicily is lacking in a good supply of certain natural resources, such as metals, those resources that it did have were enough to allow for the development of society and the preservation of the human species. Below is a cursory look at just some of these natural resources.

Concerning resources for security, housing in the early stages of human occupation was limited to caves (Holloway 2000: 2). Scattered across the northern landscape along the sea, and still more spread around the island, these caves made ready habitats for early man, but as the ages progressed, caves became limited to intermittent occupational needs and burials. By the Neolithic, housing had moved away from caves and into farmsteads, thus requiring different resources (Leighton 1999: 71-2).

Village life, though difficult, could be made easier with certain materials. These included stone for wall foundations or entire walls, mortar, and tools, wood for posts, walls, or frames, and terrigenous materials for creating mud and clay. Ground stones allowed for the building of habitats as well as for the creation of defensive structures and weapons.

The sedimentary overlap during the formation of the island allowed for differing types of stones to be used, created from Tethyan and African surface units. The Tethyan units included basinal carbonates, such as limestone, formed from the Upper Jurassic-Oligocene, and terrigenous materials, such as clay, from the Upper Oligocene-Lower Miocene. The African units contained both deep-water carbonates, of the Mesozoic-Lower Miocene, and shelf carbonates, of the Meso-Cenozoic, as well as chert (Catalano 2002: 8-9). In addition, because of volcanistic activity, volcanic materials, such as sulfur, and igneous rocks, such as basalt, were available in a limited region.

Concerning wood, the entire Mediterranean was reshaped during the Quaternary geo-climatic fluctuations, destroying, remodeling, or reshaping almost all Tertiary vegetation (Cambria 2021: 69). By the time humans reached the shores of Sicily, wood materials on the island were plentiful. It is known from the pollen diagrams from Calabria in Italy that there were rich forests of the cypress family, woodlands with abietacea, open parklands, conifer trees with cedars at higher elevations, and deciduous woodlands (Leighton 1999: 15), and it can be assumed that the same was true just south on the island. In Sicily, during the Middle Pleistocene there were holm-oak, flowering ash, pine, hornbeam, cypress family, and coastal shrubs and grasses (Leighton 1999: 15), and the San Teodoro Cave during the Upper Pleistocene contains carbonized remains of oaks, maples, and wild plums and pears, all of which suggest colder conditions during the final glacial periods (Leighton 1999: 16). The extensive woodlands (Leighton 1999: 52) of ancient Sicily provided and would continue to provide wood resources such as lumber, charcoal, tool and weapon handles, fortifications, and all items needed for later societies to survive or thrive.

Perhaps the most important resource for developing societies are those related to the second category of sustenance. The primary natural resource on Sicily was agricultural (Whittaker 1974: 62), including fertile soils. The aboriginal plant foodstuffs in the Paleolithic-Mesolithic are difficult to ascertain, partly due to the inherent bias toward faunal research, but evidence from the broader Mediterranean revealed the consumption of starches, such as grasses, tubers or roots, as well as nuts and fruits (Cristiani 2018: 8-9). At the Uzzo cave in Sicily, evidence of wild legumes, acorns, and wild grapes was found (Mannino et al. 2015: 2). The main cereal crops in later history are not found before the neolithic period in Italy (Leighton 1999: 51-2), and therefore those will not be mentioned here.

Although evidence from the San Teodoro cave suggests a well balanced diet of both flora and fauna (Mannino et al. 2011: 3096), other sites show a heavy interest in animals, which could supply both food and clothing. The spread of fauna into Sicily most likely came through the presumed land bridge known as the Messina Formation (Leighton 1999: 13), and the stages of faunal introduction into Sicily are relegated into four main hypothesized associations, but the exact dates and evolutionary processes are unknown. These, in order, are the Monte Pellegrino stage, including weasels, hares, fieldmice, and dormice, the Spinagallo stage, with dwarf elephants, toads, tree frogs, turtles and tortoises, along with other reptiles and mammals, the Maccagnone stage, featuring the hippopotamus, elephant, deer, bison, cattle, wolves, bear, and more, and finally the Castello stage, including hedgehogs, equids, red deer, and other various species, including different species of the same genus that previously came to the island (Leighton 1999: 17-18). By the Middle Pleistocene to early Late Pleistocene, most of the large mammals, such as the elephant, had become extinct, just in time for a renewal of differing species, including the horse and smaller mammals (Mara 2009: 116). Of course, the most obvious source of protein on an island would come from fish, but fish will be discussed later.

Of extreme importance to survival, a sufficient supply of fresh water could be found in Sicily (Bonanno 2008: 27). High precipitation in the northeast mountain ranges of Sicily, along with prolonged snowcaps during the glacial period, supplied many streams and rivers, and while precipitation in the northwest mountains was lower, creating fewer watercourses, watercourses did still exist (Mannino 2011: 3099). Later in history, settlements could be found all along these water sources, sometimes in multiple phases (Leighton 1999: 66-7).

The final category, resources related to occupational needs, includes resources listed above, stone and wood, but also clay, metals, and possible exchange items such as amber. While the island is lacking in metal resources (di Bella 2018: 135), amber and other prestige materials could be found (Leighton 1999: 144). Of particular interest here is the presence of clay, a commodity not readily available on some of the smaller islands (Leighton 1999: 77). Clays of various kinds formed in Sicily from Tertiary layers (Catalano 2002: 9), and their plasticity and availableness made them useful for the construction of huts, pottery, and artistic or veneration objects.

In all, Sicily houses the natural resources that mankind needed to perpetuate itself into cultural groups, societies, and eventually into a province of a modern state. While some natural resources are not readily available on the island, those materials were readily available nearby. From obsidian at the island of Lipari to iron in the Italian Alps and Sardinia, as was discovered by mankind, the exchange of goods and materials would allow whatever was missing to find a use in the island.

The Island in Light of Its Geographical Neighbors

The geological formation of Sicily left the island in a phylogeographic isolation prior to the Pleistocene; Calabria existed as three separate islands, with major sections of central and northern Italy being submerged (Schmidtt 2021: 9-10). This biogeographical distinctiveness allowed the island to become what it is today. Of course, during the Pleistocene, when sea levels were quite low, connections to both Calabria (Leighton 1999: 13) and intermittent connections to Tunisia (Schmidtt 2021: 9) allowed for animal crossings along paths that would eventually become maritime trade routes to these familiar lands.

Closest geographically to Sicily is Calabria, mainland Italy, at only 3km distance. As noted above, Calabria was not always as close, and interestingly, Sicily has more biological similarities to Tunisia than to Calabria (Schmidtt 2021: 10). That said, since the Pleistocene Epoch, contact between Sicily and Calabria has continued, as evidenced by Upper Paleolithic assemblages (Holloway 2000: 12).

A little farther away from Sicily is Lipari, an island that could be seen from the Sicilian coast (Leighton 1999: 72). Lipari was visited as early as the Mesolithic, as evidenced by Lipari obsidian found in Sicily (Leighton 1999: 33). As an obsidian source, the small island of Lipari became crucial to exchange. In fact, obsidian sources in the western Mediterranean are found on only four islands: Pantelleria, Lipari, Palmarola, and Sardinia (Leighton 1999: 74), and the rather short distance between Lipari and the coast of Sicily, only 30km, made the small island an obvious choice to later inhabit. Unfortunately, Lipari was lacking in materials such as flint, non-volcanic stone, and usable clay (Leighton 1999: 77), meaning that an interdependence with Sicily was vital.

To the west, the metal-rich island of Sardinia became important, though this importance came indirectly through Aegean contact with Sicily. As the Mycenaeans ventured to Sardinia in search for metals, they necessarily passed the northeastern coast of Sicily, using the island as a port of call (Holloway 2000: 31). Earlier than that, there is a possible Beaker connection between southern Sardinia and certain tombs in the Belice valley in western Sicily (Leighton 1999: 110-11).

Perhaps the most influential neighbor to Sicily was the Aegean. From very early times, there had been contact between the two regions (Holloway 2000: 23). A major focus of this chapter will be to highlight the effect of Aegean contact (see below).

Early Inhabitants: The Development of Sicilian Civilization

Paleolithic/Mesolithic Age

The appearance of modern man in Sicily occurred sometime after 30,000 B.C., as evidenced by flint tools from Fontana Nuova (Holloway 2000: 2). Most Mediterranean islands were not inhabited during the Paleolithic periods. Besides Sicily, only Sardinia had human presence during the Upper Paleolithic, and although both islands possibly contain human residence during the Lower Paleolithic, those evidences are scarce (Leighton 1999: 11). It was not until the end of the Upper Paleolithic Age that sites begin to multiply (Holloway 2000: 2), and many sites contain characteristic assemblages of tools that have been discovered in caves and increasingly from surface surveys inland (Leighton 1999: 22-23).

A part of the Upper Paleolithic, the term Epigravettian refers to the flint industry (Holloway 2000: 2) and is a cultural facies within the Upper Paleolithic Age. At times, the terms Epigravettian and Upper Paleolithic are used interchangeably, but just as with the Pleistocene and Paleolithic, the dates do not correspond perfectly.

Mentioned above, the term Mesolithic refers to the Paleolithic post-glacial age (Holloway 2000: 5), but due to ambiguities in past excavations, there is some question concerning the distinction between Paleolithic and Mesolithic assemblages in Sicily showing a possible cultural continuity (Leighton 1999: 12). In fact, the term Mesolithic is problematic in the broader region as many of the Mesolithic characteristics begin in the Final Epigravettian at the end of the Upper Paleolithic, thus blurring the distinction. Because of this, the term Epipaleolithic is sometimes used instead (Leighton 1999: 30). Although difficult, it is only beginning in the Final Epigravettian at the end of the Upper Paleolithic that there can be any surety of approximate dates (Leighton 1999: 26).

Sites: Seaside caves and exploration

As already noted, Upper Paleolithic inhabitants sheltered under rock outcroppings and caves, and these are common on the northern coast around Palermo (Holloway 2000: 2). Several key sites have been identified and provide great detail about the Paleolithic-Mesolithic lifestyle, and even the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition (Leighton 1999: 31-2). These sites will be described below when discussing the cultural relevance, but by way of introduction, a few will be named here.

The more prominent early site in Western Sicily is that of Grotta dell’Uzzo. Although sporadically occupied in the Upper Paleolithic, Uzzo was regularly occupied by hunter-gatherers in the Mesolithic and by agro-pastoralists during the Neolithic, thus revealing the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition (Mannino 2015: 2).

In addition, the northeastern cave of Grotta di San Teodoro reveals much about early Sicilians. Opening in Jurassic limestone, the Grotta di San Teodoro cave is rather large, being 20 m wide and 60 m long, and contains evidence of Upper Paleolithic feeding practices, stone tools, and burials (Bonfiglio et al. 2001: 149-50).

Many more caves in Sicily reveal ancient life, such as the Addaura, Genovesi, and Niscemi caves which contain art work dated by style and content to the late Upper Paleolithic (Leighton 1999: 38). Additionally, Fontana Nuova, mentioned above, may contain the earliest lithics in Sicily (Holloway 2000: 2).

While caves were obviously used for both habitation and ritual purposes, outdoor camps also existed, as evidenced by scattered surface finds. The site of Rocca San Marco in the Nebrodi mountains likely acted as just a hunting camp (Leighton 1999: 28), and this act of following the food supply, particularly deer, away from the coast and into higher terrain (Leighton 1999: 31) must had led to later in-land camps and possible permanent settlements. It may be that Mesolithic behavioral patterns led to a later adoption of farming (Leighton 1999: 34).

Technology: Early technology

As noted before, there is difficulty in differentiating between Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic assemblages. In fact, certain Mesolithic assemblages, such as those in trench A: 6-21 at Uzzo, may be termed an ‘Epigravettian-tradition microlithic facies’ because they contain both Upper Paleolithic/Epigravettian and Mesolithic features (Lo Vetro et al. 2016: 289). Because of these difficulties, there are risks when presuming a straightforward evolution of stone tools (Leighton 1999: 24), but they can still be separated into their differing facies based on techno-typological features (Colonese et al. 2017: 132).

The Upper Paleolithic Age, or Late Epigravettian, in Sicily is characterized by having very many medium to large tools in its assemblage. Several blades up to 50mm long are attested, and while smaller blades did exist, they were larger than the microliths seen on mainland Italy at the same time (Colonese et al. 2017: 130).

The hallmark of Mesolithic stone tools is microlitization (Leighton 1999: 30), and these smaller sizes, including arrows, are seen across the island. The Mesolithic assemblages of Sicily are divided into three different facies: an Epigravettian-tradition microlithic facies, hinted at before, a Sauveterrian-like facies, and the Undifferentiated Epipalaeolithic (Lo Vetro et al. 2016: 279). The former is the earliest of the three, and as the name describes, some features reveal the continuation of Epigravettian tradition. The second is partially coeval with the first, but the reduction methods used were unknown to the Epigravettian culture (Colonese et al. 2017: 132). The third facies, termed Undifferentiated, seems poorly made with a rather low technical involvement. This facies overlaps with the Sauveterrian-like facies at several sites (Lo Vetro et al. 2016: 290-93).

Concerning typology and lithogany, a significant amount of stone materials come from two provinces: Catania, including many scrapers, points, denticulates, and choppers made primarily of quartzite but also of flint and other stones, and Agrigento, including denticulates, scrapers, and quartzite bifacials. Although there is some evidence from morphology that these date to the Lower Paleolithic, there are striking similarities to later stone tools (Leighton 1999: 21-22).

Culture: Food, Art, and Burials

The final phase of the Epigravettian contains the most numerous sites up to that point and, it begins an increase of variation in hunting and gathering strategies (Leighton 1999: 22). By the Mesolithic, a flexible but slow change is made as the climate and environment changed. For some, following wild game led groups deeper inland and into higher elevations, but others stayed on the coast and introduced fish and shellfish to their diet (Leighton 1999: 31). These coastal sustenance changes are well documented at the Uzzo Cave.

Here, bones of wild mammals, small mammals, and birds are evenly distributed and predominate in the earlier Mesolithic level. Later Mesolithic levels show a rather high percentage of red deer, with a much lower percentage of wild pig, and infrequent consumption of wild cattle and birds (Leighton 1999: 31-32). By the latest Mesolithic levels, as the sea waters rose (Holloway 2000: 5-6), fishing grew in importance and many different types of marine life were consumed, including several species of both dolphin and whale. Of course, red deer and wild pig continue, along with fox, wildcat, and dog (Leighton 1999: 32).

Of particular interest concerning culture during this period is evidence of cave art (Leighton 1999: 22). In Sicily, more than twenty sites containing cave art have been recorded (Leighton 1999: 38), some of which is extremely elegant (Holloway 2000: 3). While most have simple linear incisions, three caves contain very many exceptional figures, the Grotta dell'Addaura, Cala dei Genovesi, and Grotta Niscemi caves. Almost all of the images are engraved, and they have been dated by style and content to the late Upper Paleolithic (Leighton 1999: 38). The cave of Genovesi, on the island of Levanzo just off the Sicilian west coast, included the depiction of a bovine creature (Holloway 2000: 2). Similarly, in the cave of Addaura, on Monte Pellegrino, a ritual scene containing bovine, deer, equines, and humans is found, the humans appearing to be animated in different poses (Holloway 2000: 4-5), possibly even a form of dance (Budano 2019: 596).

As noted above, both the style and the content, bovine, deer, horse, etc., are similar to artwork elsewhere. There are some subject matter and styles found in these caves that also occur in southern Italy (Leighton 1999: 38), and there are also similarities with art in southern France and Spain (Holloway 2000: 2-3). Thus, shared traditions and contacts are possible (Leighton 1999: 39), if not likely. Another tradition that became widespread during the Paleolithic-Mesolithic is that of burial.

Although in existence earlier, the practice of burial becomes widespread in Upper Paleolithic Europe, and Italy appears to have a higher amount than usual, the majority of which date to the Final Epigravettian (Leighton 1999: 34). In all, more than fifty Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic human skeletons have been discovered in broader Italy (Mussi 1986: 545).

As an example of a cave burial in Sicily, seven human skeletons were discovered at the San Teodoro Cave. Only one was well preserved, while the others were damaged by human disturbance. Each was placed about a meter apart, likely in shallow pits, in an extended position. Grave goods included antler and deer bone, smooth pebbles, a necklace made of deer teeth, and a possible hyena skull. Over top of the burial a thin layer of red ocher was placed (Leighton 1999: 36).

Although damaged by human disturbance, as above, three human skeletons were found at Grotta d’Oriente, one dating to the Upper Paleolithic, and the other two to the Mesolithic. While Oriente C, the oldest burial, contained no grave goods, except a pierced shell and several lumps of red ochre, the stratigraphic and taphonomic attributes suggest a sequential funerary ritual, furthering an in-depth understanding of Paleolithic life (Catalano et al. 2020: 27-28).

The cave at Uzzo is likely the most important site concerning the transition away from the Mesolithic. Although twelve human burials date to the Mesolithic, one of the largest Mesolithic burials in the Mediterranean, and the site contains a long sequence of Mesolithic archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological remains along with many Mesolithic artifacts (Mannino and Thomas 2007: 24), the Neolithic remains contain evidence of domestication of animals and plants revealing a transitory period.

Neolithic Age

In other parts of the world, population pressure or a post-glacial food crisis pushed Mesolithic hunter-gatherers to agriculture in order to solve the problem. Having none of these issues, the change from Mesolithic to Neolithic in Sicily occurred slowly, one of the bases of the Neolithic Age being the domestication of both plants and animals (Holloway 2000: 7). Being a part of a broad cultural province with southern Italy, and even in some ways the Balkans and further west (Leighton 1999: 65), the Italian region remained Mesolithic hunters and gatherers while the Near East flourished in Neolithic agricultural life (Holloway 2000: 7). When farmers from the Near East searched for better and less inhabited lands, they found the region uncultivated and ripe, ultimately bringing Neolithic immigrants and therefore farming to Sicily.

Although chronologically uncertain, the Early Neolithic seems to be characteristic of the sixth millennium, the Middle of the fifth, and the Late Neolithic being characteristic of the early and middle fourth millennium (Holloway 2000: 10). Of course, absolute dates have not been determined as the question of overlap is yet to be answered (Leighton 1999: 60).

By the latter half of the six millennium B.C., Neolithic villages were widespread in the coastal regions across both southern Italy and Sicily, and Malta and some of the smaller islands became inhabited (Leighton 1999: 54). While regional patterns in Early Neolithic sites on the Apulian Tavoliere in southern Italy began with many ditched sites, Sicilian Early Neolithic and Middle Neolithic sites have yet to show a regional pattern. Sites are found occupying hillocks on the coast, hilltops further inland, and surface surveys reveal possible settlements along major rivers, smaller torrents, and even around the foothills of Etna, and sites near water sources often show several phases of occupation (Leighton 1999: 66-67).

Sites: Settlement Structure and Immigration

Rather than as an autonomous development, the move to farming societies in Italy and ultimately Sicily appear to have come through cultural contact. The process of selectively adopting ideas of neighboring settlements is not likely as there is no evidence of autonomous domestication before the introduction of external domesticates, pottery, or other aspects of Neolithic life. The sheep and goat found in Neolithic Italy are not represented in the wild fauna of the region before this time, and neither are the main cereal crops. Ultimately, a western Asiatic origin is assumed. In the case of cattle and pigs, a cross breeding of local varieties and imported species is most likely (Leighton 1999: 51-52).

The rather rapid establishment of early Neolithic sites and their agricultural regime in the region was most likely brought about due to the introduction of immigrants carrying both knowledge and equipment with them (Leighton 1999: 53). With the cultivation of crops and increasing population, culturally Mesolithic hunters-gatherers intent on adopting the agricultural practice abandoned their stone shelters in order to be closer to their crops, thus creating farmsteads (Holloway 2000: 7).

These Neolithic settlement structures were quite varied, including masonry foundations, timber-formed rectangular buildings like those in central Europe, circular residential structures with walls packed with clay similar to those of the eastern Mediterranean and southeast Europe, and ditched settlements as in Apulia (Leighton 1999: 71-72).

A number of ditched sites existed in eastern Sicily. Although several hypotheses concerning the purpose of these ditches have been put forward, the presence of a wall or palisade along the ditch at Stentanello and Megara lend to the idea of defense (Leighton 1999: 69). At Stentinello the ditch was dug into the limestone and reinforced with a palisade. Villages around the Syracuse area were delimited only by ditches. By comparison, settlements in the Agrigento region in southern Sicily contained remains of an enclosure wall without a ditch. Defense appeared to be important, but there does not seem to be a typical ‘Stentinello’ village pattern of defensive measures (Holloway 2000: 8-9).

Technology: Domestication and Pottery

From the very beginning of this era, both domestic cereals and domestic animals played a vital role in the economy, but the act of hunting continued in a diminished nature, and fishing, as a practical aspect of sustenance gathering, actually increased at this time. Thus, the Early Neolithic Age became a mixed economy (Yu et al. 2022: 22).

Evidence from the Uzzo cave, in the west, shows continued occupation for the Mesolithic into the Early Neolithic, and although there is some speculation as to whether or not experimental domestication of the wild pig occurred during the Mesolithic (Tagliacozzo 2005: 435-36), domestication as a whole was not introduced until the Neolithic. In the earliest Neolithic phases at Uzzo, besides fish, deer continued to be the primary food source, but by the last Neolithic phase, caprines, an import, are by far the dominant mammalian meat source (Leighton 1999: 56-58). Of interest, Uzzo contained a rather low percentage of cattle remains (Rowley-Conwy et al. 2013: 163), likely due to the rugged terrain which is not suitable for domesticated cattle (Leighton 1999: 58).

In the east, the move to Neolithic domestication was rapid, likely due to the favorable environment that allowed for agriculture and the raising of cattle. These eastern coastal plains sites showed evidence of two different varieties of cattle, as well as sheep, goats, and pig (Leighton 1999: 59). In fact, Stentinello, on the eastern coast, shows a complete lack of wild game in exchange for domesticated mammals (Holloway 2000: 9).

By the sixth millennium B.C., drastic change in material culture brought about by Neolithic agriculturism included the addition of pottery (Holloway 2000: 7). There has been much debate over the last century as to the sequencing of Neolithic pottery in Calabria-Sicily. One theory posited over half a century ago based on northern Calabrian excavations placed the sequence as follows: Impressed Ware, Painted Wares, and finally Diana Ware, adding the southern Calabria-Sicilian style of Stentinello Ware somewhere in between depending upon the scholar (Robb and Marino 2021: xviii). Today, the sequence is slightly altered. Stentinello Ware is understood as a type of Impressed Ware geographically centered in southern Calabria and Sicily (Quero, Martinelli, and Giordano 2019: 69). Stentinello Ware, named after the site in Sicily of the same name (Leighton 1999: 61), covers both the Early and the Middle Neolithic, and Diana Ware in the Late Neolithic follows Stentinello Impressed Ware (Robb and Marino 2021: xviii-xx).

Beyond a simple pottery assemblage, the Stentinello culture developed as a separate cultural facies that spread from the eastern Mediterranean along with Neolithic lifestyles, and this culture was present in most Early and Middle Neolithic settlements in southern Calabria and Sicily (Scarcella, Bouquillon, and Leclaire 2011: 153). Having such a wide distribution, it has been separated into six regional sub-styles: western Calabria, southern Ionian Calabria, Etna, the southeastern coast of Sicily, Malta, and Monte Kronio (Leighton 1999: 61-62).

Possibly having lasted as long as 2000 years (Leighton 1999: 62), Stentinello Impressed Ware ranges from simple to complex, consisting of rather course wares and finer wares with geometric decorations (Mckendry 2015: 7), which are assumed to have started as textile decorations (Holloway 2000: 27), all of which were hand made. The earliest of this assemblage is sometimes termed Pre-Stentinello Ware (Holloway 2000: 8), but its existence as a separate assemblage is not certain (Robb and Marino 2021: xx).

The date for the beginning of Painted Wares in Sicily is difficult to ascertain. Bichrome and trichrome pottery in Sicily is associated with Stentinello Ware, though the earlier contacts at Stretto, Piano Vento, and Castellero Vecchio on Lipari only contain small amounts (Leighton 1999: 63). Scarce in the region (Robb and Marino 2021: xx), this pottery is usually more carefully made, containing little temper, a polished surface, and the beige or brown fabric is decorated with zigzags, curvilinear designs, or red bands and rays with a black border, with some typical forms similar to those on the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy called Capri ware (Leighton 1999: 63).

Culture: Complimentary Exchange

Exotic materials were exchanged throughout the Mediterranean and prehistoric Europe since the Upper Paleolithic period (Holloway 2000: 12), and the first evidence of the visitation of small islands around Sicily comes from the Mesolithic (Leighton 1999: 33), but although obsidian from Lipari was used in Sicily as early as the Mesolithic, the obsidian-rich island was not inhabited until the Early Neolithic (Leighton 1999: 72) at the beginning stages of the obsidian trade (Holloway 2000: 12).

It was the contrasting resources available to Sicily and its neighbors in conjunction with maritime potential that led to multiple exchange networks (Leighton 1999: 74). Even though obsidian sources in the western Mediterranean are found on four islands, Pantelleria, Lipari, Palmarola, and Sardinia (Freund, Tykot, and Vianello 2015: 208), Lipari, only 30km from the Sicilian coast, became the dominant source of obsidian throughout Sicily and most of southern Italy (Leighton 1999: 74). With time, obsidian replaced flint as the material of choice for most tools throughout the region (Holloway 2000: 10), and this need for obsidian throughout Sicily and nearby territories naturally led to the creation of an exchange network. Because of this, both the Neolithic and Bronze Age saw normalized maritime contacts (Leighton 1999: 72-73).

Although obsidian sources were limited to a few islands, Sicily had very numerous deposits of usable flint in the Hyblaean region of the island. Flint was still used in the production of sickle blades even during the height of obsidian use, and therefore Hyblaean flint became a material of need that was distributed during the Stentinello phase to Malta, eastern Sicily, and maybe even to Lipari (Leighton 1999: 76-77). Other materials found in isolated geographical regions also became desired. Basalts from Etna and the Hyblaean were used for work-axes and millstones. Smaller, often ornamental greenstone from Northern Calabria was also used for axes, and occasionally jade or eclogite from alpine sources are found in southern Italy and Malta towards the end of the Neolithic period. With Lipari obsidian being found in the north, perhaps these ornamental jade or eclogite axes were items of exchange (Leighton 1999: 77).

Lipari, lacking in raw materials such as flint, non-volcanic stone, and usable clay, became a central point in the exchange network. Just as Lipari obsidian is found throughout the region, so goods from elsewhere came into the island of Lipari, including high-quality clay from northern Sicily, flint from Sicily, and greenstones, small stone axes, and fibrillate from Calabria or Sicily, some of which tended to be finished products rather than raw materials (Leighton 1999: 77). The exchanging of goods and raw materials throughout the Neolithic no doubt bolstered the spread of ideas and innovations (Leighton 1999: 66).

Being further away, the Maltese islands were less frequented during the Neolithic, but the culture remained similar to Neolithic Sicily, including building techniques paralleled to Piano Vento. Domesticated flora and fauna, including barley and sheep, were no doubt introduced from Sicily, and the presence of Lipari obsidian shows continued exchange (Leighton 1999: 73).

One can assume that goods such as shell ornaments, colorful pebbles, various skins and hides, and pottery were exchanged throughout the island of Sicily. In fact, the range of outside items, and the presence of high-quality pottery, at the eastern Sicilian ditched sites shows evidence of this regional exchange network (Leighton 1999: 77).

Overall, the great dispersion of raw materials throughout Sicily and its geographic neighbors created a complementary stability where elaborate material items, including fine pottery and prestige tools, could be created without concentrated power or inequality. This also led to sophisticated technology like high temperature firing of pottery and the early experimentation of copper (Leighton 1999: 77-78). This wide social interaction may explain why early farming communities held shared characteristics over large geographical areas. Unfortunately, these exchange networks also led to the collection of prestige items such as for display and weaponry that ultimately brought the status enhancements during later post-Neolithic ages (Leighton 1999: 78).

A Hierarchy: Growing Conflict and Trade

Copper Age

In Peninsular Italy, there is some debate as to the existence of the Copper Age (Dolfini 2020: 507). In many ways, the Early Copper Age continued Late Neolithic social and economic norms, and the Late Copper Age began features of the Early Bronze Age (Leighton 1999: 88-89), yet radical changes occurred that began a social revolution around the Mediterranean (Brea 1957: 61).

In Sicily, population growth, and thus competition over land and resources, the increasingly uneven lifestyles in different territories, social tensions, and possibly even armed conflict led to a transition away from the complementary stability of the Neolithic to the unsettled regionalism of the Copper Age (Leighton 1999: 87-88).

Gradually (Brea 1957: 67), the Neolithic exchange networks fell (Freund, Tykot, and Vianello 2017: 35). For those cultures that survived the collapse of the Neolithic complimentary stability, their hallmarks were originality, diversity, and innovation (Leighton 1999: 88). The Sicilian Copper Age lasted at least a thousand years giving way to the Castelluccian or the Early Bronze (Leighton 1999: 93).

Sites: Caves and Settlements

Not much changes concerning size or location from Neolithic to Copper Age settlements, but during the Copper Age, sites become much more numerous (Kolb 2007: 174). Until recently, much of what was known about Copper Age settlements was conjecture (Leighton 1999: 88) and primarily came from caves (Leighton 1999: 93). One such site, Serraferlicchio, contained a rather large amount of both plain, burnished pottery and fine painted ware (see below) now referred to by the site name (Gullì 2014: 69-71). Additionally, the most important metal finds from the Late Copper Age come from caves, including Grotta Chiusazza and Grotta Palombara (Leighton 1999: 104).

While caves account for a great number of Copper Age sites, ranging across the island and seemingly used as temporary shelters, burials, dwellings, or even cultic locations (Leighton 1999: 101), over the past twenty years, numerous Copper Age settlements have been discovered (Parkinson et al. 2021: 326). Settlement sites are found in many landscape locales, generally expanding into the uplands (Parkinson et al. 2021: 328). It is important to note that numerous Neolithic sites in the east once associated with the Neolithic exchange network were scarcely populated during the Copper Age (Leighton 1999: 100), and some Neolithic sites in the east appear to have been largely unused during this time (Parkinson et al. 2021: 328). The region of the earlier ditched Neolithic sites now suffered from a low population. Interestingly, the Early Bronze Age sites in this eastern region often showed signs of defensive measures (Leighton 1999: 100).

Based on subsistence patterns at these sites, there was likely a growing reliance on sheep and goat, and secondarily spinning and weaving, though cattle were present, and hunting of deer and wild pig continued. If continental parallels hold, the use of oxen for traction and plowing would also be present (Leighton 1999: 88).

Technology: Pottery, Metallurgy, and Weapons

Items associated with subsistence and household economics which began at the end of the Neolithic become quite common in the Copper Age, most notably spindle whirls, bobbins, and loom weights (Leighton 1999: 108). The pottery of the Copper Age, as well, continued many earlier traditions, but there was a new range of forms, including the flask, closed jars, shallow bowls, and askoi (Robb 2007: 298). There seem to be some parallels between Sicilian Copper Age and Aegean, Anatolian, Cypriot, and Near Eastern pottery, mainly reflecting basic shapes and traits that may simply be coincidental. By the Late Copper Age and Early Bronze Age, these parallels become more specific, especially long-necked jugs with rounded bodies that may reflect Cypriot affinities. This could have been due to migrations, exchange, or diffusing of contacts between neighboring regions. Trading between Sicily, Calabria, and Apulia is postulated based on obsidian, greenstones, and other stones and metal, but there is a lack of evidence of trade with the Aegean, and there is no sign of flourishing trading posts on the Sicilian coast (Leighton 1999: 108-10).

Sequencing at Grota Chiusazza illustrates Late Neolithic through Copper Age ceramics. Following the Diana phase in the Late Neolithic is the Conzo style painted pottery, the Piano Notaro incised pottery, and dark burnished wares which represent the Early Copper Age. Serraferlicchio painted ware appears commonly in the middle of the Copper Age. Finally, Malpaso and Castelluccio wares of the Late Copper Age were discovered (Leighton 1999: 91), thus this site helps to build a chronology for Copper Age pottery assemblages. It is interesting to note that the Late Copper Age Serraferlicchio pottery, black-on-red and sometimes white geometric decorations, continued the pointed stylistic traditions in southern Sicily, but some other Late Copper Age styles, such as the Malpaso, show a departure from previous traditions that led into the Early Bronze Age (Leighton 1999: 108).

Although termed the Copper Age, only a few metal items have been discovered in Sicily (Leighton 1999: 87), some even remarking that Sicily has a Copper Age without the existence of copper (Robb 2007: 299). In fact, it should be noted that metallurgical knowledge appears to have come to Sicily intact from outside along with raw materials (Tanasi et al. 2019: 128). Only recently was a potential for the production of metals in Sicily known, and scattered deposits of lead, copper, zinc, silver, iron, arsenic, and antimony could be found at surface outcrops on Monti Peloritani. While there is no evidence of Copper Age extraction, metal slag has been discovered at Late Neolithic to Early Copper Age Lipari, showing at least knowledge of the existence of metal early on (Leighton 1999: 103).

The introduction of metals in this region during the Copper Age occurred first on the periphery of the obsidian trade network and slowly moved toward Lipari and therefore Sicily and Calabria, which, having close proximity to Lipari, were last to accept metal usage. The earliest of the metal artifacts in either Sicily or Calabria are pins, beads, and other decorative implements. Obsidian continued to be used for blades and was likely gradually replaced with copper-based metals (Vianello and Tykot 2016: 732), but stone technology for toolmaking continued to be important (Leighton 1999: 104).

As a part of this new social regionalism typified by complicated trade networks and even social conflict, newly manufactured items included not only fine pottery and copper tools, but also weaponry (Kolb 2007: 174). Stone-working production created pressure flaked arrowheads, ground axes, and mace-heads (Leighton 1999: 87-88), with the stone mace-head being well represented during this period and including three different varieties (Brea 1957: 66).

It is important that the use of obsidian was significantly reduced during this period (Vianello and Tykot 2016: 732), likely due to the rising nature of metallurgy in the region (Robb 2007: 299) at a time when maritime exchange increased bringing the addition of new prestige items. This is contrary to the eastern Mediterranean where the use of obsidian continues through the Bronze Age (Freund, Tykot, and Vianello 2017: 43). Contrary to many others, it should be noted that some argue that copper was far too common regionally in this period to be considered a prestige material (Dolfini 2020: 541).

Culture: Unsettled Regionalism

During the Copper Age, complex social structures were formed in Sicily, and eventually chiefdoms would emerge from these social institutions (Kolb 2007: 174). Much of the later second millennium power structures, ideologies, subsistence regimes, and cultural traditions are rooted in this period (Leighton 1999: 90). These regional variations are suggested by visible Copper Age patterns of human landscape (Leighton 1999: 99-100).

Due in part to social tensions and possible conflict, there existed three cultural facies without identifiable boundaries, namely: northeastern Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, southern Sicily, and western Sicily. The first held close ties with southern Italy and did not consistently use painted wares. The second contained unique burial and ritual practices and continued local exchange networks. The last, consisting of the western provinces and specifically the Conca D’Oro settlements around Palermo, contained common features of the first two (Leighton 1999: 87).

One interesting and yet unanswered question concerning the Copper Age is the existence of the Beaker Complex. The southeastern boundary of beaker distribution, which is found throughout northern and central Europe, Iberia, and north-central Italy, is the island of Sicily. Here, beakers first appear just before 2500 B.C. in Late Copper Age Malpaso-San Ippolito contexts, and they are distributed primarily in the northwest (Leighton 1999: 110). This complex is found in a British Isles, the Rhineland, central Europe, and in Italy. Interestingly, Beaker Complex tombs seem to be isolated from the cultures in which they appear (Holloway 2000: 30).

In northern Italy, beaker pottery sometimes stands in contrast to local assemblages, thus, a population influx seems likely. In metal rich areas such as southern Sardinia and Tuscany, perhaps trade brought the beaker assemblages. Western Sicily had no obvious resources for trade, and beakers appear to be only an addition to the local pottery, even being copied into the local tradition. Thus, long-distance trade could have introduced these beakers as prestige items causing locally made counterparts. The desire for exotic materials, metallurgy, and even hierarchical social structures may have encouraged maritime voyages of exploration. Of course, these beakers are also associated with the Belice tombs similar to those found in Sardinia, so migration cannot be ruled out (Leighton 1999: 110-11).

Early Bronze Age

The most widespread and well-known cultural facies of the Early Bronze Age is termed Castelluccian (Cultraro 2004: 201) after the site of Castelluccio in the Tellaro River Valley near Syracuse (Crispino and Cultraro 2016: 211) whose richly decorated pottery (see below) became a characterization of the Early Bronze Age in Sicily (Copat, Costa, and Piccione 2017: 110). Early Bronze Age cultural patterns tended to follow those of the Late Copper Age (Leighton 1999: 113), and overall, there appears to have been a gradual change from those prior traditions towards a consolidation of trends (Brea 1957: 99), including differing burial practices and plain and incised pottery, the first being represented by the earliest Castelluccian Culture and the latter ultimately leading to the Milazzese and Thapsos complexes of the Middle Bronze Age (Leighton 1999: 114).

There is some contrast in early cultural patterns among the Castelluccian cultural complex, primarily in the south and west, Rodì, Tindari, and Vallelunga (RTV), primarily in the north, and Capo Graziano, in the Aeolian islands (Doonan 2001: 164), the latter two showing more similarities with the Proto-Appennine and Palma Campania of southern Italy. Additionally the earliest phase at Capo Graziano compares to Early Helladic III pottery, showing signs of contacts with the Aegean by at least 2200 B.C. (Leighton 1999: 113).

In the cave at Chiusazza, Castelluccian pottery was found between the Late Copper Age Malpaso and Middle Bronze Age Thapsos material culture (Leighton 1999: 113), thus safely wedging the Castelluccian into the Early Bronze Age. Based on 14C dates from Muculufa and Monte Grande, the Early Bronze Age dates to 2500–1700 cal. B.C. (Leighton 1999: 113), though the traditional chronology is listed as 1800–1400 B.C. (Brea 1957: 115). Although the distinction between chronology and simple regional patterns is difficult to ascertain, the extended chronology is supported by widespread and a large quantity of pottery assemblages and sites leading to a subdivision of Early Bronze 1 (EB1), 2500–2000, and Early Bronze 2 (EB2), 2000–1500 (Leighton 1999: 113), and it is possible to view the Castelluccian culture in three phases: Proto-Castelluccio, with affinities with and contemporary too Late Copper Age San Ippolito and Nora styles, Castelluccio proper, represented greatly in the Hyblaean region, and the Late Castelluccio, being more simply decorated (Leighton 1999: 138-39). Compared to an Aegean chronology, the Castelluccian culture was contemporaneous with Middle Helladic (Brea 1957: 115).

Sites: Settlements and Tombs

Representing the Castelluccian culture, Early Bronze Age sites are found throughout southeastern Sicily, especially in the central-southern regions (Doonan 2001: 164) and primarily on promontories or hilltops with a view of the coastal plains and even river valleys inland. Surveys around Morgantina revealed more numerous Late Copper Age/Early Bronze Age surface finds than potsherds of any other previous periods, widely distributed over areas from hilltops to valleys (Leighton 1999: 114). Small sites close to fertile lands at differing elevations on the Etnean slopes increased at this time, most likely reflecting seasonal shepherding activities or the search for raw materials (Branca et al. 2021: 11-12). In central and western Sicily, Early Bronze Age sites tended to be placed at higher elevations on rocky promontories, these being defensible, overlooking travel routes through valleys, and are found both inland and along the coasts (Leighton 1999: 114).

As a whole, Castelluccian settlements showed great diversity of size, organization, and even duration of habitation. A typical farming village may house between fifty to a hundred individuals in close proximity and subsist on either small-scale agronomy or large-scale pastoralism (Cultraro 2004: 201).

Two settlements on the Serra Orlando ridge at Morgantina give more details about Early Bronze Age life. The oval shaped huts consisted of stone wall foundations and included pits, fictile horns, bone points, spindle whirls and bobbins, and both ground and flaked stone implements. A large settlement of circular huts, including a single hut measuring to 8 m in diameter, was discovered at La Salinelle. The site contained a stone lined pit and is associated with chamber tombs within the vicinity. Nearby, another settlement was found at Poggio Biddini and included huts with walls laced with timber. Additionally, there were found pits, an oven, silos or wells dug into the rock, pottery, lithics, and both domestic and wild animal bones (Leighton 1999: 118).

It is during the Castelluccian that the chamber tomb came above ground. The chamber tomb, itself, was being used for a thousand years before this on Malta, in Sicily, and in Southern Italy, where the oldest chamber tomb dates to about the Late Neolithic and is contemporary with Diana pottery (Holloway 2000: 22). The chamber tomb likely originated in the east, as it is also found in Cyprus, the Peloponnesus, etc. (Brea 1957: 66). Before the existence of chamber tombs, the dead were placed within the community, but it is suggested that with it, they are given their own ‘houses’ (Holloway 2000: 23).

These rock-cut chamber tombs are located all across the Sicilian landscape, typically carved into calcareous rock outcroppings, and they often consist of one stone sealed chamber containing multiple inhumations (Cantisani 2020: 116). The chamber tomb was the dominant practice throughout the Castelluccian culture, but natural caves were also used, and rarely dolmenic structures are found (Copat, Costa, and Piccione 2017: 110). Although widespread in southeastern Italy (Catacchio 2018: 425), chamber tombs containing a dromos are rare in Sicily (Cantisani 2020: 117). Even with the differing styles of funerary practice, generally, grave goods consisted of pottery, flint, stone or bone artifacts, and amber beads (Copat, Costa, and Piccione 2017: 110).

Technology: Architecture, Pottery, and Life Tools

Castelluccian domestic architecture varies broadly, and while few Early Bronze Age sites have been excavated thoroughly, those that have reveal the basic shapes of dwellings as circular, elliptical (Leighton 1999: 116-18), or rarely rectangular, and some sites contained all three in different phases (Crispino 2019: 1074). Most settlements were small and consisted of only a few huts clustered together around open spaces, and they were, generally speaking, not cut off from one another by an enclosure wall (Doonan 2001: 165).

Along the coast of Manfria, west of Gela, a site consisting of a cluster of three and another cluster of six huts forming two possible farmsteads (Holloway 2000: 23) were extensively excavated. The predominantly elliptical huts contained a central and four to five perimeter post holes, and the floor was sunken and plastered. Interestingly, two rather large huts, one larger than 10 m in length (Holloway 2000: 23), may have acted as communal buildings or possibly in a ritual function (Copat, Costa, and Piccione 2017: 110). Cooking appears to have occurred outside, and there was little hunting. Instead, the inhabitants relied on sheep and goat, pig, and some cattle (Holloway 2000: 23).

Near Camarina, the Castelluccian site at Branco Grande contains circular huts measuring approximately 6 m in diameter. Lack of interior posts support the concept of wattle and daub walls and a thatched roof made of light materials. These walls rested on a low stone base (Holloway 2000: 23), and the settlement was surrounded by 100 m wall that protected the eastern side of the village (Cantisani 2020: 136). Very many individual settlements in the Castelluccian complex similarly were composed of circular huts clustered around open spaces comprised of wattle and daub on stone foundations. These sites are at times quite large, based on sherd scatters, and some of the largest sites include Castelluccio, Branco Grande, and La Muculufa (Doonan 2001: 165).

At the site of Santa Febronia, a hut was discovered with familiar Castelluccian architecture as seen above, including the low stone foundation. Destroyed by fire, the architecture and objects were left relatively in their original positions. Of interest, two classes of pottery were discovered: painted ware, which were mainly fine, decorated vessels with geometric designs of black on a red background, and monochrome ware, which was smoothed and slipped, and decorated with bosses and cordons. The first included pottery such as the pedestal bowl, pitcher, olla, amphora, beaker, and cup. The monochrome pottery consisted of cooking pots, pedestal bowls, and cups (Mentesana 2015: 259).

Interestingly, the Early Bronze Age turned to elaborate decoration of its pottery and eventually away from the monochrome styles from before. This Castelluccian technique has its roots in the Serraferlicchio Ware of the Neolithic, but the move to geometric designs may be explained by finds at La Muculufa and in the complex Castelluccian pottery in the west of Sicily (Holloway 2000: 27-28), specifically in the rather fine and even exotic pottery found at sanctuaries (Cultraro 2004: 202). It may be theorized that competition to votively offer increasingly finer and more beautiful pottery fueled a rebirth of painted pottery. Thus, the popularity and painted wares may have gone hand-in-hand with the creation of multi–community sanctuaries (Holloway 2000: 27-28).

Overall, Castelluccian pottery is more of a union of regional groups (cf., Russell 2017: 10), as regions were clearly in contact with each other but kept their own identity and style (Holloway 2000: 21). Decorated in black (sometimes outlined in white) on a red slip, it was patterned after the colors of Serraferlicchio pottery, though with different designs (Holloway 2000: 20).

The basic Castelluccian domestic ceramic service was composed of a pedestaled vase with a deep basin, for serving either solids or liquids, and a pitcher, for dipping and drinking. Other vessels are found along with these, depending on the site (Maniscalco 1999: 185-88). This basic assemblage formed a ceramic arrangement that became the traditional assemblage throughout the entirety of the Bronze Age, and this is seen in both domestic and funerary contexts (Maniscalco 1999: 187).

Castelluccian ware has more subdivisions/regional styles than Stentinello Ware, and within these different styles there is a difference between grave and domestic pottery, the domestic pieces being more elaborately decorated and larger in size (Holloway 2000: 21). Unfortunately, while the black on red decoration serves as a diagnostic for the Castelluccian culture, there is a shortage of stratigraphic or chronometric evidences to support precise sub-periods (Copat, Costa, and Piccione 2017: 111). Although the claim has been made linking Castelluccian ware to Early Helladic and Middle Helladic matt-painted wares, there are few chronologically relevant affinities. Instead, Castelluccian pottery appears to be firmly rooted in the traditions of the local Late Copper Age (Leighton 1999: 141).

Concerning tools, there was no sudden change in either the quality or quantity of metal working during the Early Bronze Age, but the range of products increased (Leighton 1999: 142), thus it can be said that technologically, the Early Bronze Age is characterized by metalworking as the stone industry waned until its disappearance by the Middle Bronze Age (Brea 1957: 102). Short copper daggers from Monta Racello and Santa Febronia could have been formed locally, but axes likely served as long-distance trade items (Leighton 1999: 142). Interestingly, at the Lipari acropolis, a sandstone mold for casting bronze items was discovered (Brea 1957: 106), and still others were found at Ustica, Cannatello, Panarea, Filicudi, and Salina. It is possible that trade involving Sicilian resources such as pumice and amber resulted in the import of raw metals to be used at these sites (Alberti 2013a: 2502).

After its economic decadence in the Copper Age, the Aeolian islands saw a rise in the Capo Graziano culture (Brea 1957: 99), as seen at several villages in the islands, the key of which is La Montagnola Del Capo Graziano on Filicudi. The cultures represented by oval huts in concentrations of five or six (Wijngaarden 2002: 207), floors generally sunk below surface level, and superstructures of perishable material. A rather large Capo Graziano building, measuring 18 m on its long axis, was discovered at Lipari, and this building had its own enclosure wall (Holloway 2000: 28). The Capo Graziano material culture distinguished itself from either mainland Italy or Sicily (Wijngaarden 2002: 206) and appears to be quite limited to its own region (Cantisani 2020: 18).

The Capo Graziano culture, throughout the Aeolian islands, at a minimum created Aegean inroads into Sicily which grew stronger in later periods. Late Helladic I and II pottery is seen at Capo Graziano until the sixteenth century, when the villagers relocated to more defensible positions. Interestingly, around this time at the coastal sites of Messina and Naxos in northeastern Sicily, inhumation burials inside large pithoi began (Holloway 2000: 29). This type of inhumation is similar to those found at Olympia in Greece (Brea 1957: 107).