Italy, in light of its central position in the Mediterranean and complex histories throughout the period, represents the ideal context for analysing how patterns of continuity and discontinuity determined medieval Europe’s birth. The proposed project aims at comparing 1st millennium AD economic and settlement patterns between two territories of Italy, using an innovative cross-disciplinary approach. A comparison between a territory in southern Tuscany, a part of central Italy that became economically marginal during the late Roman period, and a sample area in south-eastern Sicily, a region that maintained a central role in the economic and political Mediterranean framework, can show how local economies developed in different ways during and after the decline of Roman world and thus witnessed the development of new proto-European economies. This project proposes to develop and use innovative technologies, among these an intensive use of DGPS during field work, to improve the quality of recording and enter that detailed data into a GIS base for further processing. Field survey will be integrated by novel techniques of remote sensing, such as LiDAR, to allow us to investigate woodlands of low archaeological visibility, which are quite widespread especially in southern Tuscany. The research strategy has also planned to integrate field walking survey with geo-archaeological survey for reconstructing Roman and medieval links between the agricultural communities and the surrounding environment. Finally the analysis of the Roman and medieval pottery will be carried out through an analytical and statistical approach to reconstruct past trade and industrial practices. The work programme that we propose consists of an advanced laboratory-based activity and new field methodologies to strengthen the base of data on which we will construct long term interpretative models. The research results will be published in international journals and web pages.
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