The University of Arizona

Radiocarbon Evidence from the Middle Bronze Age Settlement at Portella (Aeolian Islands, Italy): Chronological and Archaeological Implications

Gianmarco Alberti


This paper deals with radiocarbon determinations from the Middle Bronze Age site of Portella on the island of Salina (Aeolian Archipelago, Italy). The available 14C evidence is taken into account, in a simple Bayesian model, in order to explore the issue of the absolute chronology of both the settlement and the stage of the local cultural sequence to which Portella belongs. A high date is proposed for the start of the Aeolian (and Sicilian) Middle Bronze Age: 1556-1422 cal BC (95.4% confidence), with a a most likely (modal) date of about 1450 cal BC. Further, the analysis suggests that the Portella phase is likely to have been a very short one, with a span of 0-65 yr (68.2%) or 0-131 yr (95.4%). The archaeological implications are explored. The relation of these results to the evidence of ceramic phasing is also considered. Since Aegean datable ceramic imports are documented in Aeolian/Sicilian Middle Bronze Age contexts, the connection between Portella's chronology and the absolute dating of one of the Aegean phases (namely, Late Helladic IIIA1) is also investigated.

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