Prehistoric human presence on Mount Etna (Sicily), in relation to the geological evolution

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Stefano Branca
Francesco Privitera
Orazio Palio
Maria Turco



 This study analyses the relationship between the pre- and protohistoric sites on the slopes of Etna and the volcanic products, as well as the diverse settlement strategies in the different periods of prehistory. New C14 dating from significant excavations, in addition to those known from other Etnean sites, were performed with the aim of validating the chronology of the sequence of the different phases. A substantial concordance of the archaeological data with the volcanological ones has been found. It has been observed that a consistent human presence on Etna appears from the Middle Neolithic (5500 BC), after the sequence of eruptive events that marked the end of the Ellittico volcano (13550 - 13050 BC) and the formation of the Valle del Bove, and the subsequent debris and alluvial events on the eastern flanks of the volcano (7250 - 3350 BC). Human presence intensifies between the Late-Final Copper Age and the Early Bronze Age (2800 - 1450 BC), due to improvement in subsistence techniques and to the large presence of soils on lava flows suitable for sheep farming. The most recent phases of the Bronze Age are poorly represented, probably because of the concentration of the population in larger agglomerations (Montevergine and S. Paolillo at Catania, the Historical Hill at Paternò). The explosive eruptions taking place in this period seem to have had less impact on the settlement choices and have not affected the development of the sites over time. 

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How to Cite
Branca, S., Privitera, F., Palio, O. and Turco, M. . (2021) “Prehistoric human presence on Mount Etna (Sicily), in relation to the geological evolution”, Annals of Geophysics, 64(5), p. VO542. doi: 10.4401/ag-8667.