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Milwaukee Lecture by Dr. William M. Balco

  • UWM Sabin Hall, Rm G90 3413 N Downer Ave Milwaukee, WI, 53211 United States (map)

Streets and Cisterns: Traveling the Roman Occupation of Ancient Salemi, Sicily

Dr. William M. Balco

Northern Illinois University


Urban excavation poses a unique set of challenges to archaeologists as our excavations are often limited by utilities and structures. Such limited excavations in Salemi, Sicily have discovered a large, bell-shaped cistern dating from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD. This feature appears to be contemporaneous with a large mosaic floor identified nearby in 1893. The Roman cistern contained a wide variety of domestic debris attesting both the economic interconnectivity and independence of this site. This presentation will discusses strategies to overcome the challenges of deep urban excavation on a limited schedule. Furthermore, the use and abandonment of the cistern will be explored, contextualizing the site within the broader, western Sicilian region. Initial results of the materials analysis suggests that Roman Salemi participated in several overlapping networks of pottery exchange while also maintaining material independence through the possible manufacture of glass artifacts. Furthermore, the high frequency of tablewares at this site contrasts with the high frequency of processing wares from other sites located in the nearby valleys, suggesting different occupation strategies employed at contemporary sites in interior western Sicily.