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Environmental Archaeology in Italy

previous survey team walking in a field

This coming summer 2019, Miami students will join Dr. Emily Holt on her archaeological field project located on the beautiful Italian island of Sardinia. Dr. Holt directs the Pran’e Siddi Landscape Project, an archaeological survey that studies how the Bronze Age Nuragic Culture (c. 1700-900 BCE) used social and ideological organization to adapt to changes in their water supply. Want to join the team? Click for more information and application procedures.

Dr. Emily Holt, an environmental archaeologist in Miami University’s Department of Classics, founded the Pran’e Siddi Landscape Project in 2013 on the Italian island of Sardinia. Pran'e Siddi, meaning the “Siddi Plateau” in the Sardinian language, is a high basaltic plateau located in the south-central part of the island. The area around Siddi was inhabited by prehistoric villagers beginning in the Neolithic period (ca. 4,000-3,200 BCE). However, during the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1,700-1,450 BCE), these previously egalitarian people developed a hierarchical social system with an elite who expressed their power and prestige through the building of monumental stone towers called nuraghi.

The elites of the early Nuragic (1,700-1,450 BCE) community on and around the Siddi Plateau built sixteen of these nuraghi and a monumental tomb, which they used for three centuries. By 1450 BCE, however, the elite sites on the Siddi Plateau were abandoned and the population moved away. Dr. Holt established the Pran'e Siddi Landscape Project to investigate the causes of this settlement pattern change. Her work is indicating that the widespread site abandonment was a response to environmental change and the decreasing availability of water. Dr. Holt’s students learn the methods of archaeological survey and artifact analysis to help her reconstruct prehistoric land use and look for evidence of environmental change.