The 2017 campaign continued the investigations especially on the Archaic layers of the site. Fieldwork was carried out in the area of previous explorations as well as in two extensions located in the southwestern and northeastern corner of the excavation area.
The investigations carried out in the already opened area concentrated mainly on the sector of hut 1A/B (see report of the previous campaign). The younger building (hut 1A) had already been discovered in 2013 and was completely excavated last year. It consisted of a larger number of post holes, forming a U-shaped layout open to the west. Several children’s tombs (both of fossa and enchytrismos type) could be assigned to the building. Two of them, tombs 1/13 and 2/13, were integrated in its southern axis. Due to their special spatial arrangement, they might be referred to as “foundation tombs”, dating the construction of the building (the original occupation layer was cut away in the course of agricultural activities) to the second half of the 7th century BC (Subgeometric Daunian I), well corresponding to the dating of the ceramic finds from both the fillings of the post holes and from the levelling layer SE 958 recovered in 2016.
After the removal of SE 958, the clay package SE 1183 to be addressed as a remnant of a hut wall and a corresponding horizon (SE 1190) came to light below the northern part of hut 1A in the previous year. This older occupation layer included a post hole (SE 1189), which, together with the above-mentioned findings, suggested the existence of an earlier building (hut 1B). On the layer SE 1190, besides the daub fragments of hut SE 1183, pieces of charcoal and some pottery fragments of the 8th/7th century B. C. (Geometric Protodaunian and Subgeometric Daunian I) were found. As the layer ran out southwards, it was assumed that the majority of the older hut layout was located north of the SE 1183 clay package, i. e. underneath the northern exterior of hut 1A.
Based on these observations, excavation work was continued in this area in 2017. It turned out that the SE 1190 occupation layer either slowly ran out to the north or had been washed away. The underlying layer SE 1226 suggested that the surface in the north originally terminated at a lower edge of the terrain. In the search for further architectural structures, the SE 1226 layer was removed down to the virgin soil SE 3/99. At the base of the aforementioned terrain edge a post hole (SE 1271) was uncovered, directly adjacent to a fossa grave (tomb 1/17) to the east. The latter possessed a rectangular covering of grooved tiles (SE 1269) in northeast-southwest orientation. It can be preliminary dated to the 4th century BC.
Immediately to the east, remains of a much older occupation layer (SE 1270) were uncovered, consisting of a thin pebble stratum. Among other things, two olla fragments with monochrome decoration were found on its surface: a border fragment belonging to an olla with a wide mouth, a slightly bent outer rim and horizontal handles. On the shoulder this vessel was decorated with a simple tent decoration. The wall fragment showed the part of a frieze with a concentric circle. Shape and decoration of these fragments have already been documented for the 8th century BC (Geometric Protodaunian). A bowl fragment with tapering rim and raised round handle from levelling layer SE 1226, of whose monochrome painting only one band was recognizable just below the outer edge, pointed to the same phase.
The investigations in the nearby sector G related to the area south of Hut 1A. The aim was to pursue the SE 1227 occupation layer (discovered partially in the section of post hole SE 1221/1222 in the previous year) over a wide area. For this purpose an approximately east-west oriented and 7.00 × 5.00 m sized trial trench (section 1/17) was created. The above-mentioned horizon rose slightly to the north and east and was mainly identifiable by loosely distributed pottery sherds (especially five olla fragments and a jug and a bowl fragment). All olla fragments featured a monochrome painting, which, together with the mostly flat rims, suggested dating back to the 8th century BC (Geometric Protodaunian). The fragment of the jug belonged to a handmade, pear-shaped vessel with a horizontally bent rim and raised strap handle, also typologically belonging to the earliest Daunian phase. The fragment of a handmade bowl without stepped edge also pointed to the early phase, due to its shape and decoration with hanging zig-zag lines. The architectural structures in the area of section 1/17 included two smaller post holes (SE 1274 and 1275). They were located in the eastern part of the section and had been dug into the layer SE 1226. Due to the stratigraphic relations they probably belonged to the occupation phase of hut 1A.
For the time being, the layout of the preceding hut 1B remains unclear. As there were no matching post holes underneath the northern exterior of the later building, as originally assumed, it may have been located directly underneath it and can be connected to some smaller foundations in this area (SE 1061, 1062, 1064 and others). Due to the context situation in the southern part of sector G (the upper part of the archaeological layers has fallen victim to the plough) the detailed interpretation of huts 1A and 1B will probably remain difficult.
To the south of hut 1A/B, the fossa tomb 1/14 was excavated. The almost north-south oriented grave was covered by two grooved tiles. In the pit measuring 0.75 × 0.45 m the mortal remains of a child were found. Only parts of the skull and a fragment of a leg bone were preserved. The age could be determined anthropologically to 1.5-3 years (infans I). The ceramic grave goods consisted of ten vessels. The assemblage encompassed a bell crater, a jug, an impasto jug, two jugs (one placed in the bell crater), two bowls, a ring stand of a vessel reused as a bowl, and a pyxis. For the most part these were wheel-thrown vessels decorated with horizontal bands. The non-ceramic grave goods consisted of seven finds, most of which were located in the upper chest area. Four of these were beads made of glass, bone and amber. The rest was represented by an iron brooch and two bone objects. This group of finds also includes an amber pendant that was recovered in the area of the tile cover as early as 2014. Based on the construction method and the grave goods, the tomb can securely be dated to the 2nd half of the 4th century (Subgeometric Daunian III). The use of a bell crater as an olla and the addition of a pyxis are a special feature for the Giarnera Piccola. Also worth mentioning is the use of amber objects, which was rather unusual for the late Daunian period.
As early as 2013, a larger number of older post holes (SE 1028a-b, 1037a-b, 1038a-b, 1041a-b and 1052-1053a-b) were uncovered under the eastern exterior of building 12. In the previous year, three additional posts were found directly below the structure (SE 1211a-b, 1212a-b and 1225a-b). These findings were originally thought to have belonged to a smaller oval hut, the western part of which had been severely affected by the later building activities. In this year’s campaign, investigations focused on the northern and eastern exterior of the small hut. In the northern area, two post holes (SE 1277 and 1278a-b) came to light, located at the edge of a formerly northeast-southwest oriented terrain edge. Their affiliation to the hut still has to be clarified, since these foundations could possibly also belong to an older Archaic phase in the southwestern area of sector H. At the corresponding surface level (SE 1095) there were two olla fragments (one rim and one wall) and one bowl fragment (rim). In all cases, these were handmade vessels with monochrome geometric decoration belonging at the latest to the phase Subgeometric Daunian I.
New findings also came to light east of the hut, comprising a fireplace (SE 1284) and another post hole (SE 1283). The fireplace was of oval shape, measured about 1.10 × 0.95 m in size and consisted of pebbles placed within orange-red clay. Their surface was slightly lower than the upper edges of the post holes, so it is likely that these finding predate the hut. Since the post hole SE 1283 was covered by a foundation that is probably of Archaic date (SE 1040), it should also belong to an older horizon. The position of the post hole a little to the east of the postulated building could be taken as an indication of another hut.
In addition to the work within the area already subject to earlier investigations, the excavation plot was slightly expanded to the southwest and northeast and dug out to the depth of a first archaeological level. In the southwestern extension, measuring approximately 45 sqm, the foundation wall SE 1179, already discovered in 2014, could be uncovered up to its southern end. The wall had a total length of 6.70 m and a maximum width of 0.75 m. The newly excavated and better preserved section (SE 1234) was slightly displaced to the east. Like the rest, it consisted of larger pebbles and rubbles, bound together with brown clayey earth. The interpretation of the findings is still pending due to the fact that the area was only partially examined. It has to be assumed, however, that this was originally the eastern end of an almost north-south oriented building (building 19). The dating of the building into the 4th century BC is ensured by several brick fragments integrated into the foundation.
The northeastern extension, measuring approx. 130 m², revealed a large number of archaeological remains that in 2017 could only be examined up to the first documentation interface. Therefore only a preliminary assessment of the contexts is possible. The findings were spread over two terraces. One part could be attributed to the Archaic phase (Subgeometric Daunian I and II), the other to the late classical-early Hellenistic phase (Subgeometric Daunian III).
The horizon of the Archaic phase included twenty post holes (SE 1240, 1241, 1243, 1244, 1246-1255, 1262,1263, 1264 and 1266-1268), a possible post support (SE 1256) and an alleged wall foundation (SE 1242 and 1245). Five post holes (SE 1263,1264 and 1266-1268) were located in the southern area and probably belonged to two separate structures. The remaining foundations (SE 1240, 1241, 1243, 1244, 1244, 1246-1255 and 1262) were concentrated in the area of hut 2. To this building a large number of oval placed post holes (SE 527a-b, 530a-b, 534-541 and 559-564) could be assigned when it was uncovered in 2009. A larger storage pit (SE 528/529) was located within the northwest-southeast oriented structure that was flanked on the western side by a possibly contemporary fossa grave (tomb 2/09). The newly uncovered post holes SE 1246-1248 probably mark the southeastern edge of the building. Other foundations, such as SE 1252-1255, due to their position and arrangement could have instead belonged to an independent rectangular post structure.
The establishment of a relative chronological sequence of the different constructions is not yet possible. A complete jug found at the intersection of the two floor plans, probably initially deposited in a small pit, together with the above-mentioned tomb 2/09 suggested only a rough time window: while the tomb belonged to the 8th/7th century (Geometric Protodaunian/Subgeometric Daunian I), the hand-made jug with its slightly raised handle and bichrome banded decoration can be dated into the 6th/5th century BC (Subgeometric Daunian II).
The wall foundation SE 1242/1245 was located in the southern interior of hut 2, oriented northeast-southwest, originally at least 2.55 m long and up to 0.45 m wide. In the center, the context showed a larger gap, presumably due to a not clearly defineable disturbance. It is still questionable whether the wall belongs to the adjacent contexts.
The late Classical-early Hellenistic construction phase of this area is represented by the remains of a building (Building 20), a pebble layer (SE 1261) and four pit-like features (SE 1257, 1259, 1260 and 1265). Building 20 was found in the eastern corner of the extension. So far, only a northwest-southeast oriented foundation wall (SE 1237) and an overlying brick layer (SE 1236) have been excavated, the latter probably the rest of the roof cover. The wall SE 1237 consisted of small to medium-sized cobbles and quarry stones and was embedded in a 0.20 m thick levelling layer (SE 1238). The latter covered a slightly older horizon recognizable as gravel layer of at least 8 m² (SE 1261). The context might be addressed as an aggregate or drainage layer and was associated with a larger amount of pottery (coarse ware) and tile fragments (flat and curved). An antefix in the shape of a Gorgo, dating to the 4th century BC, was found at its eastern margin and deserves special mentioning.
Pits SE 1257, 1259 and 1260 came to light south of hut 2, while a fourth (SE 1265) was found in the southern part of the excavation extension. For the time being, their function remains unclear. The fillings consisted of brown clayey earth and predominantly round stones. The material also included pottery (mainly plain ware) and tile fragments. Pit SE 1257 had an almost rectangular shape, was oriented northwest-southeast and had a maximum size of 2.10 × 1.65 m. Its surface was characterized by a particularly large number of stones. On the northern, southern and western sides it was bordered by an almost horizontal walking surface (SE 1258) consisting of a thin layer of gravel. Pit SE 1265 was of elongated and irregular shape, oriented northeast-southwest and at least 2.20 × 1.15 m in size (the eastern end is located outside the excavated area). Underneath the uppermost layer of the backfill, consisting of brown and clayey soil, more stones emerged, most of which were concentrated along the southern edge and placed remarkably regularly.
Additionally to the fieldwork as well as the cleaning and restoration of the finds, anthropological analyses were carried out on the skeletal material and samples of selected pottery were taken to be subjected to provenience analyses (Neutron Activation Analysis).
Targeted field research increasingly brings to light the earliest Daunian phase in the Giarnera Piccola, dating as far as the 8th century BC. For the time being, these earliest structures (both huts and tombs) are however difficult to evaluate since the associated horizons were mostly removed by construction measures of the 5th/4th century BC and modern agricultural activities. Occupation levels are usually unpaved (rarely thin pebble layers) and very likely spatially restricted, often only indirectly recognizable by the upper edges of the contexts (post holes) or scattered surface finds.
The findings of the Giarnera Piccola belong to the earliest evidence of Daunian settlement activity alongside the sites of Salapia, Monte Saraceno, Arpi and Ordona – to name the most important ones. The research project carried out by the University of Innsbruck offers an excellent opportunity to continue the investigations of this early centre and to shed more light on this initial phase of the (so-called) Daunian culture.
- Christian Heitz - Università di Innsbruck, Istituto di Archeologia Classica e Provinciale Romana
- K. v. Heyking
- L. Obojes
- M. Datterl
- J. Rückl
- Manuele Laimer - Università di Innsbruck, Istituto di Archeologia Classica e Provinciale Romana
- Università di Innsbruck
- ARGE ARCHÄOLOGIE
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