Pantelleria Project

Our First Visitor

Today, We had a visit from Luigi Biondo, the head of the Parco Archeologia di Pantelleria. We have lots of exciting ideas for the future to conserve the site and create public access.

Room 4, niche 1 with remains of plaster inside

We are focusing on Rooms 4, 8,  and 9 now. Two niches exist in Room 4.

The Valley Beyond

On Tuesday, Leo, Marvi, and I had an extreme hike to the nearby (basically unknown) prehistoric site. Some of the main features include a megalith positioned on the peak of a hill, with concentric stone circles ringing the slope side. It’s incredible. Can’t wait to find out more about the connection between our area and this.

Leo and Marvi stand near the megalith and look out towards the lighthouse


The megalith on a nearby hilltop, seen during the hike


A Forest of Walls

The clearing is progressing. We are assigning numbers to the rooms, and continuing to look at wall construction types and wall relationships. Some walls are made with huge blocks, others are made with much smaller stones; all are of dry-stone masonry techniques. The walls in their ruined state are going to provide a great insight into the dating of the structure. The walls were constructed with two faces and infill in the center; the infill consists of rubble with pot sherds. As we clean the broken top edge surfaces of the walls, we will find sherds. Watch this space.

The team is divided amongst the first six rooms to be identified. Our first wall of concern, USM 100, is a curvilinear wall that bisects the larg, central, rectangular area into what we are calling Rooms 1 and 2. USM 100 seems to abut, rather than join, the linear wall that it touches. We have been wondering about the relative relationship between the curvilinear and linear walls (and construction types). We will keep looking as the rooms are cleaned, but this might be sorted now. Room 5 has two niches in the walls. Room 6 contains an entranceway to the structure.

This is such a fantastic international collaboration. It is such a pleasure working with Leo and Marvi (ARES ricerche e servizi per l’archeologia).

View of USM 100 looking N    

Day One

Our first day on site… The hike to site was just as densely vegetated as during the initial visit last year. We will need to clear a path for ourselves. The site itself was as I remembered it. We climbed up the NE wall area to show the students our position between the sea and the volcanic ridge.

I decided to focus this season on the monumental structure as the most prominent and succinct feature in the landscape. The vegetation made visibility difficult, but we could see a core area of two central room with several smaller communicating rooms surrounding this. We went to work straight away clearing dead and loose vegetation. This allowed us to begin looking at junctions between the many walls. There seem to be at least two wall-construction types, maybe more.

Marvi gets a closer look at the walls

Andy discovers the joy of the machete

Arriviamo in Pantelleria

We have arrived safely in Pantelleria! Leo and Marvi met us at the airport with their truck, and I picked up our nippy blue Fiat Panda. The dig house is covered with bougainvillea in bloom.

Our dammuso (house) at Bonsulton

Let the season begin!


We had our last pre-season meeting in Providence. The students are set with everything they need, and now the team notebooks and binders as we calculate how much luggage we can each take. Also great news, the student scholarships are coming in now.

We plan our rendezvous at the Termini Station in Rome. From there, we will travel to Pantelleria.


Memories of August 2011

It was not too long ago that I travelled to Pantelleria with Lisa Mignone to see the prospective site, and meet the ARES Team in August 2011. We were blown away (almost literally on a day of scirocco) by the beauty of the island and the amazing archaeological remains scattered throughout.

Carrie at L’arco dell’ elefante

One of the Gran Sesi tumuli

View of the terraced hillsides for capers and zibibbo grapes

Our hike to the site with Leo, Marvi, and Roberta was a true adventure, blazing a trail through the dense forest. We encountered the immense dry-stone masonry peeking out from between tree limbs and ferns. After climbing to the top of the highest wall, we had a clear view of the coast in front of us and the top of the volcanic ridge behind us. We chatted over our ideas concerning the significance of the structure’s location. This seemed like a great place to start a project! The plan was hatched.

Hiking to the future site

We also met members of the team from Universität Tübingen who are excavating at the Roman acropolis. The site is absolutely fantastic. Thank you for our wonderful tour.

Touring the excavation of the Roman acropolis

Ready, set, …

The first season of the Pantelleria Project is nearing. I can’t believe how time has flown by. I have a few things left to do: teaching and grading must be finished soon, then chairing a session at TAG at the University at Buffalo, and get ready for Italy!