Middle Bronze Age
The earliest phase of the occupation of Roca dates back to the Middle Bronze Age (17th century BC). Already during the first stage of its life, the site was protected on its inland side by a massive fortification, currently preserved for a length of about 200 m and a thickness of up to over 20 m at the base. However, it is conceivable that the defense system existed to greater extent since the slumping of the cliff broke both ends of the wall and the excavation of the Late Medieval moat heavily disturbed the external face.
The fortifications, expanded and renovated several times, were divided by a main door, with an inner walkway around 3 meters wide, and at least five posterns or minor passages, of a width not exceeding 1.5 m. The side walls of these posterns are constituted by rough stone slabs or roughly hewn blocks of local calcarenite, put in place horizontally and sometimes mortared with a clay and crushed limestone mix. A dense series of wooden poles had the double function of shoring the walls from behind and supporting the roof. During the second phase of the Middle Bronze Age, the settlement was further protected on the outside by a ditch dug into the rock, which was about 2,5 m equally broad and deep.
General plan of the Middle Bronze Age fortifications
The monumentality of the defensive plan of Roca does not find parallels in contemporary protohistoric Italy, relating rather to architectural models derived from the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. It is also important to note that that the complexity of the structures of fortification and the extensive use of skilled labor necessary for their construction are unimaginable outside of a community with a high level of socio-economic organization with an appropriate sized population.
With respect of the third phase of the Middle Bronze Age (second half of the 15th to the beginning of the 14th century BC), the architectural uniqueness of the walls is accompanied by a evidence related to a sudden and total fire destruction, almost certainly following a more or less prolonged siege. The evidence related to these events is multiple. The posterns, for example, in different cases were used as refuges or temporary shelters by the besieged population. Confirmation derives from the discovery within the posterns of facilities for the cooking of food, and a large amount of handmade impasto pottery, designed to function as canteen, pantry and kitchen.
Postern C, in particular, was buffered towards the outside with a barricade of stones and turned into a death trap for whoever was inside. On the floor, in fact, were found the anatomically articulated skeletons of seven unburied individuals, two adults and five between childhood and adolescence. It should be noted that the analyses allowed us to suggest that their death resulted from asphyxiation prior to the collapse of the structures above.
Among the debris that littered one of the rooms of monumental gate were instead found the semi-charred skeletal remains of an individual estimated to have been between 18 and 20 years of age. The violent death of man, documented by the unusual positioning of the body and the trace of a deep stab wound on one of his ribs, seems to indicate a direct involvement in convulsive stages of the siege. Nearby the skeleton lay also two objects clearly of Aegean-Eastern Mediterranean origin, which might suggest the foreign origin of the individual: a dagger-style Aegean bronze blade and bird-shaped sculpture made of hippopotamus ivory, possible of Levantine production.
For the Middle Bronze Age, contacts with the Aegean are further highlighted by a series of wheel-thrown ceramics datable between the Late Helladic II and IIIA and found both in defensive structures as well as in some depth survey trenches conducted in the settlement. Archaeological research developed over the past decades have also allowed us to identify traces of burned huts and several cavities intended for cult activities related to the deposition of pottery, animal sacrifices and ritual meals.