A multidisciplinary project for the study of historical landscapes: new archaeological and physicochemical data from the “Colline Metallifere” district

Luisa Dallai, Vanessa Volpi, Alessandro Donati


In the last years the Colline Metallifere district (southern Tuscany) has become a multidisciplinary study area. The territory is very well known for the presence of a large copper, silver, lead and iron sulfide deposit that was exploited over the centuries.
A protocol for multiscale analysis of landscape and archaeological contexts has been developed and tested on different sites. The core of this protocol is a combination of archaeological, physicochemical and geological analysis, useful to describe and interpret the history of this peculiar region.
The poster will illustrate the major results of pXRF analyses undertaken both on excavation sites and territorial samples; these data can be interpreted as possible traces of ancient human activities.
In particular, it will be shown how this high throughput technique can be used in multi-scale investigations (intra-situ and medium-large territorial scale) with both predictive and descriptive goals, providing detailed chemical map helpful for excavation planning and historical evaluation of landscape changes.
To validate pXRF data, a number of laboratory techniques (EDX, ICP-MS, GF-AA etc) have been applied on environmental matrices (soil, stream sediments), structures and findings.
Moreover, preliminary results of pXRF analyses performed on new “key-sites” selected within a 5 years ERC project based in the University of Siena will be presented. The main object of this ERC project (NeuMed. Origins of a new economic union, 7th-12th centuries: resources, landscapes and political strategies in a Mediterranean region) is the study of the Colline Metallifere landscape features (coast, valley, hillsides and mountains), in order to reconstruct and understand the deep changes occurred in settlement patterns, trade routes and in the economical background of the area between Late Antiquity and the XIIth century.