The studies on a
period that is still full of questions and gray areas
anyhow led the scholars, also thanks to some
recent findings, to delineate the history of human presence in the Locrian
territory before the arrival of the Greek settlers.
It was, therefore, possible to establish that the earliest human presence, traces of
which it's still possible to observe at the present day, dates back to a period
between 6000 b.C. and 5000 b.C., in the middle of the Neolithic age.
Following the evolution of the handworks brought little by little to light,
it was possible to establish also that the first hypothesis, that wanted in this area
the existence of sparse inhabited nuclei concentrated in a few areas, had to be
revised as the diffusion on territory of the
archaeological finds that were recovered is considered more compatible with the presence of a much higher number of
settlements, although not all of a significant size.
The populations of these settlements were permanent, devoted to agriculture and
organized in small and peaceful communities. Almost certainly an early form of trade
was already in use between these small communities in the form of goods exchange; but
proper commerce, made with populations of faraway lands, will
begin only in late Eneolithic and during Bronze Age.
CHRONOLOGICAL SUMMARY TABLE OF REMOTE AGES IN CALABRIA
Most likely these communities didn't undergo major changes in their way of living
(except, of course, for the introduction of metal tools in their everyday life) and
of interacting with other populations until the Bronze Age.
From the Bronze Age and then again at the beginning of the Iron Age there are,
instead, a series of changes affecting both the economic and social aspects of the
individual communities. Agriculture is combined with breeding and the necessity
to obtain the metals for the production of the tools, required by the new needs of
the populations of this period, leads to a strong development of commerce. These new
demands led to southern Italy's shores many sailors, especially Mycenaean, who until the collapse
of their civilization were frequent visitors of
Calabria's landing places and
maintained continuous exchanges with the native populations.
But who were these native populations? Where did they come from? What were the
relationships between them? These are questions that most likely will never have a
certain answer; and this is not due to the lack of ancient historical sources (although,
of course, of several centuries later), on the contrary. Just think of what has been
handed down by Antiochus, Ephorus, Thucydides, by Strabo himself and by many others;
but unfortunately these stories often contradict with one another, are not easily
interpretable and, for the most part, are shrouded in legend.
Without getting into the details of these traditions, we know with some certainty
that the territory in which Locri Epizephyrii will develop was part of the so-called
Italža region which, in its more restrictive delimitation, covered the land from the
(nowadays) Strait of Messina to the isthmus delimited by Squillace
(Skylletion/Scylletium) on the Ionian coast and Vibo Valentia (Hipponion) on the
Tyrrhenian coast. The people who lived in this region, a population of Indo-European
origin, took the name of Itali. Over the time, the tradition will tend to
the Itali with the Oenotrians and to expand the borders of Italža by incorporating the
adjacent Oenotria, thus coinciding almost entirely with the territories that
later would be known as Magna Graecia.
These Itali-Oenotrians will be joined, between the late Bronze Age and the early Iron
Age, by the Sicels; a population originating, according to some traditions, from the
areas of the current Latium and northern Campania. Sicels who, however, in most cases
will be driven from native populations and will be forced to seek refuge in the
territories of eastern Sicily with just few exceptions such as in the case of the
Here in fact the Sicels, by integrating or by crushing the local populations,
established themselves and imported their traditions. And It is precisely regarding
this population that the archaeological excavations carried out have produced the major
archaeological data; data that have helped to identify the site of what was probably
their largest settlement, located near the modern Janchina (just behind the area
where the Greek city was built) dating back to the IX century b.C. Many other finds
were also recovered from the excavations, carried out by
archaeologist Paolo Orsi, in the burial
areas (necropoleis of Canale and Patariti) adjoining the Janchina site and
characterized by burial chamber dug along the hillside, typical of Sicels
The Sicels will continue to thrive on the Locrian territory until the arrival of the Greek
settlers; such arrival, as Polybius tells us in detail (see
Geographical Position), marks their end and
also marks the transition of the Locrian area from the last protohistoric phase to
the proper History.
THE THREE-AGE SYSTEM
The definition "three-age system" (Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age) refers to a
type of nomenclature traditionally used to divide chronologically the various
stages of human evolution in the prehistoric period. This system, generally
considered too restrictive to allow the precise description of the characteristics
of regions and cultures between them distant, however is still used, especially
in an archaeological context, for the immediacy with which it allows to
contextualize chronologically facts and discoveries of prehistoric times.
Below are quickly highlighted the characteristics and composition of the individual
periods (with dating, it should be noted, concerning the area of the
1. THE STONE AGE
(age of the old stone, approximately from 2.5 million years ago until about
12.000 years ago) divided in its turn into three periods, Lower (up to 120.000
years ago), Middle (from 120.000 to 36.000 years ago) and Upper (from 36.000 to
12.000 years ago). It's marked by the presence of nomadic hunter-gatherers
population that, gathered in small groups, settled for short periods in caves, huts
and temporary shelters mostly along the banks of rivers and lakes. The period is
characterized by the presence of stone tools and other handworks (especially flint
and obsidian) made through the chipping technique.
(age of the middle stone, approximately from 10.000 b.C. to 7000 b.C.) it's
still characterized by the presence of nomadic hunter-gatherers population,
however now gathered in larger groups. The techniques of stone processing tend to
be more elaborate (microlithic technique) and, in hunting, there is an extensive
use of bow and arrow.
NEOLITHIC:(age of the new stone, approximately
from 7000 b.C. to 3000 b.C.) populations become sedentary, agriculture and the
first domestication of animals are developed. Tools are built with increasingly
complex work (sanding technique) and appear various types of pottery ware (such as
the impressed ones called cardial by the name of the cardium edelis, an edible
saltwater clam, used to decorate them).
ENEOLITHIC:(age of stone and copper, approximately
from 3000 b.C. to 2000 b.C.) is the phase of transition from the stone age to the
metals ones, it is characterized by the appearance of copper tools and handworks
that complemented those in stone. It is often also referred as the initial period
of the protohistory of the civilizations that develop from the communities affected
by the changes of this phase.
2. THE BRONZE AGE
Approximately the bronze age spans the period
between the 2000 b.C. and the X-XI century b.C., it is the period in which it
develops the bronze metallurgy resulting in the production of all kinds of
handworks in the new metal. During this same period there was the diffusion of the
pottery-wheel for the production of pottery wares and other manufactured articles
and the development of farming and trading.
3. THE IRON AGE
Approximately between the eleventh-tenth century.
b.C. and the eighth century b.C., it is marked by the appearance of products made
through the metallurgy of iron. During this period develop such social changes that
this is considered the last protohistoric phase, the end of which marks the
watershed between prehistory and history.