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EMMA VITALE

Importation and Trade of African Pottery in the Ancient Ecclesia Carinensis During the Late Roman Age

Abstract

The territory of Carini, on the northwest coast of Sicily, 30 km from Palermo, is often mentioned by ancient sources. According Thucydides in this area was located the ancient Hykkara. Itinerarium Antonini recalls the statio of Hykkara along the via Valeria. This route in Late Antiquity became very important for the deportatio ad aquam of the agricoltural products. Gregorius Magnus in the epistles (VI century A.D.) mentions a diocese of Karines, as witnessed alike by the acts of synods to 782. The archaeological excavations, still ongoing, in the Early Christian cemetery nearby the little modern town of Villagrazia di Carini have revealed the presence of a strong Christian community. The settlement related to, in the St. Nicholas district, spread and developed during Late Roman and Byzantine periods. The numerous archaeological evidences show that all this territory, especially during the Late Antiquity, was involved in intense settlement dynamics due to the agricultural production of large estates and to profitable economic activities, related to maritime trade and to exchange of goods with the hinterland. The presence of African pottery (terra sigillata lamps and tableware, amphorae) both in the settlements along the coast, in the Late Roman and Byzantine site of St. Nicholas and in the early Christian cemetery of Villagrazia testifies to the large volume of trade with Africa Proconsularis and to the economic vitality of this part of western Sicily up to the Byzantine age.