Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Robert H. Tykor, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nancy White, Ph.D.

Committee Member

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Davide Tanasi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jeffrey Ryan, Ph.D.


Mediterranean Bronze Age, pottery technology, manufacturing practices, Sicily


The current study aims at testing whether potters acting across Central Sicily broadly shared the same manufacturing practices between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, or if they mediated and promoted a more diversified production. The study explores the technological features of local pottery by adopting an interdisciplinary approach to compare ancient ceramics from rock-cut burials at Sant’Angelo Muxaro, with those from the sanctuary at Polizzello through a combination of analytical techniques. The two sites were chosen as they best represent the cultural background of the Platani Valley. Sant’Angelo Muxaro seems to become the main location across inland Sicily at the end of the Bronze Age (ca. 11th – 10th BC), when it developed distinctive ceramic types and decorative systems that spread throughout the Valley. Polizzello, on the other hand, is an indigenous sanctuary where local ceramic models were still being used throughout the beginning of the Iron Age (ca. 9th – 8th BC). Given the uniqueness of these sites, where local communities used to gather periodically to attend symbolic and communal events, the purpose of this project is to understand the manufacturing technology behind the creation of the local pottery. A total of 151 pottery samples functionally related to communal feasting, and four clay specimens, were studied through a combination of ceramic petrography and neutron activation analysis following a brief pXRF preliminary investigation. By using several analytical methods, it is possible to distinguish among different paste recipes and manufacturing techniques, and ultimately to link the ceramic products to the choices made by potters. Therefore, such a site-specific scale inquiry will provide precious insights about broader social and economic dynamics related to raw material sourcing, ceramic manufacture, technology, distribution, and use during the latest phases of the Bronze Age in Central Sicily.