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The beginning of western greek amphorae production in western Sicily: archaeometric and archaeological studies on 6th–5th centuries BCE amphorae manufactured in Himera


About 560 western Greek amphorae (6th–5th centuries BCE) re-used in enchytrismos burials were unearthed in the necropolis of the Dorian-Chalcidian colony of Himera in northwestern Sicily. Among the most striking issues is the determination of their geographical provenance. For this purpose, ceramic samples chipped from freshly broken surfaces of all the amphorae were first subdivided into macrofabrics by the use of a hand lens. Thereon, the samples were studied in accordance with standardized methods by the use of reflected light microscopy. Due to the special focus of our project on the characterization of Sicilian productions, a selection of amphorae which showed visible, macroscopic affinities with the majority of the macrofabrics previously attributed to the region of Himera was submitted for thin-section petrography at the polarizing microscope and chemical analyses (ICP-MS and ICP/OES). This new data set was compared with reference samples investigated by previous research, referring to ceramic raw clays of the colony’s territory and local tablewares of the Iato K480-type. Our study confirms the local manufacture of the entire selection of transport vessels. The identification of a production of western Greek wine (?) amphorae in Himera dating mainly from the third quarter of the 6th to the first quarter of the 5th century BCE breaks new grounds in view of a better interpretation of the colony’s economic development during the later archaic period. Furthermore, it underlines Himera’s prominent position within the wider frame of regional economic interaction.