The Neolithic and Copper Age of the Abruzzo-Marche region, central Italy
This is a regional synthesis, which draws together a wide range of data concerning the Neolithic and Copper Age in the Abruzzo-Marche region (c. 5750-2050 Cal. BC), and examines it in the light of contemporary archaeological methods and theories and current topics of debate within Mediterranean prehistory. In Chapter 1 a new chronological framework is established, using radiocarbon, stratigraphic and typological dating methods. Five main chronological phases are defined, namely the early, middle and late Neolithic, the final Neolithic/early Copper Age, and the middle-late Copper Age. Chapter 2 provides a generalized reconstruction of the Neothermal environment, and changes in it, based upon present-day and prehistoric data from central Italy. An increasingly unstable ecological situation may have developed on the coastal lowlands during the Copper Age. In Chapter 3 changing patterns of settlement and subsistence are examined within four major geographical zones. These patterns remain similar to those previously identified by Barker, although new details and interpretations are provided, concerning, for example, colonization, settlement infilling and cattle breeding. Chapter 4 examines changes in the nature, scale and direction of networks of communication and exchange. The emergence of certain sites as regional nodes of production, consumption and exchange is charted, and developments in long-distance ceremonial gift-exchange and alliance systems are also proposed. Chapter 5 considers mortuary practices, which were performed in residential sites, caves and special-purpose burial sites. Neolithic rites may have expressed concern over group unity, structural divisions in society and the threats of death and economic misfortune, whereas Copper Age transformations might be understood in terms of growing social advertisement. In Chapter 6 these different themes are drawn together, along with a greater emphasis upon social factors and intra-regional variation. The development of certain sites as social and economic centres is, in particular, given further consideration. Suggestions for future research are made throughout the thesis, with reference to limitations in the existing body of data.