Final Bronze Age
Main evidence dating to the Final Bronze Age
The Final Bronze Age (from the 11th to the start or the middle of the 10th century BC) is characterized both by a certain continuity and by a further reorganization of the of the settlement. First of all, the renovation of the fortifications is observed and there was once more a change of the building techniques, characterized at this time by the extensive use of wooden structures. The walls of the internal face are rebuilt with stones, uncut and heterogeneous in size, strengthened on the outer front by vertical poles. The gate was not subjected to significant changes; only the walls are reinforced with a solid wood frame, perhaps useful also for repairing the roof.
In terms of both the walls and the huts within the peninsula, the best preserved remains date to the middle of the period under consideration (Final Bronze Age, phase 2). The evidence, dating to that timespan, are in fact related to a substantial, possibly violent, destruction by fire. The subsequent collapse of the walls, made mainly of wood, led to the formation of thick deposits of ash and coal, which sealed the floors and the evidence from the archaeological record of that period.
The appearance of the settlement seems to represent a precise plan, revealing a highly regular and monumental structure. This is documented by the impressive fortifications, the nearly orthogonal grid of roads, and the frequency of large wooden buildings likely used for several communal functions and concentrated mostly close to the walls.
Area IX, 'Temple-hut' (click to enlarge)
One of these structures, interpreted as a 'temple-hut' , has an elongated rectangular shape (about 34 x 17 m), recognizable thanks to a relatively regular grid of large post holes, placed at an average distance of about 3 m. The available data is compatible with a double-sloped roof, while other indications gathered during the excavation, demonstrate that at least some sections of the building perimeter were delimited with a low stone wall.
In the 'hut temple' there were several areas for cooking as demonstrated by the many small stoves, both stable and mobile, made of fire-hardened clay, and by common local 'impasto' cooking pottery. Other sectors, characterized by abundant mixtures of 'impasto' vessels for drinking and eating, seem instead better equipped for banquets and ritual symposia. Among the pottery finds in the building, local fineware is also reported. This is handmade and decorated with designs typical of the protogeometric stylistic repetoire. The collection of tools and ornaments made of animal derived material is also very rich and varied.
In the northern part of the building some sacrificial areas were discovered. The articulated skeletons of at least three juvenile pigs were reported in association with a bronze knife and low squared platforms made of clay, similar to the so-called 'ground altars' documented in many sanctuaries in the Aegean, Cyprus and Palestine. In one case the platform was connected to a small basin which probably had the function of collecting the blood of the victims.
Other artifacts from the 'hut temple' reveal a probable cultic value and a close formal affinity with objects circulating in the regions of Central and Eastern Mediterranean: for example, the collection of impasto tripod trays decorated with crosses or swastikas, which find no comparison in indigenous contexts, but are analogous to the 'offering tables' found in sanctuaries and graves in the Aegean and Cyprian area. Lastly, a bronze double axe, refers to the world of ritual sacrifices; in Aegean visual arts, the item is commonly associated with the ox/bull skull in an iconographic schema reproduced also in the Poesia Cave. A specific symbolic role can be attributed to some anthropomorphic and zoomorphic 'idols' made of terracotta, compared with specimens attested in Italy and in different areas of the Mediterranean.
The set of discoveries in this building is completed with two hoards, rich in metal objects, usually considered as types of treasuries for the riches or rather as votive offerings. The first ('Hoard of Gold') was found in an unused post hole and contained artifacts both intact and fragmented. There were, in particular, two 'solar disks' in gold foil, often interpreted as possible cult items or holy vessels. In addition, it is possible to identify ornaments, both simple and elaborated, working tools, ingots and bronze weapons. The list of the additional finds is completed with artifacts of shell and ivory, along with numerous necklaces beads made of glass. Other gold finds were laid on the floor level, close to the hole. The so-called 'Hoard of Bronze' was, instead, enclosed in a typical impasto container (olla), closed with a limestone slab, and included only fragmented or disordered artifacts.
Another monumental building, similar to the previous in terms of the structural profile, has been studied in the South Western section of the peninsula. In this case, however, the presence of a set of four large wheel-thrown storage vessels, called dolia, useful for the storage of large quantities of oil or other precious liquids, suggested an interpretation as a 'store' as more appropriate.
From the Final Bronze Age layers of Roca, further evidence, worthy of interest, emerge. The recovery of imported pottery of the Late Helladic IIIC and the Sub-Mycenaean suggests the continuation of relationships across the Adriatic Sea also in the later phases of the crisis of Mycenean society. Also relevant is the discovery of a nozzle from a tuyère in terracotta and of many mould fragments made of local stone (calcarenite), used to made weapons and tools of various shapes. Some knives and hammer heads were clearly inspired by Aegean prototypes.
These data suggest also for this phase the probable presence of foreign individuals in the settlement and a strong integration between local and foreign people in the field of technology, politics and religion.
A picture of a flourishing market come to light, based on a model of socio-economic organization well-structured and able to manage the huge resources circulating, the plurality of productive activities, the system of maritime trade and the considerable workforce required for the realization and maintenance of the impressive infrastructures identified by the excavations (roads, fortifications, storehouses, cult areas, etc.).