Late Bronze Age Mycenaean and Italic Products in the West Mediterranean

An updated (2013) Gazetteer and a selection of tables and charts are also available online.

It is possible to sort complex tables in the gazetteer by clicking the title of a column; multiple fields can be selected for advanced sorting by ctrl-click or shift-click (i.e. clicking with either the CTRL or SHIFT keys pressed; this depends on the operative system used) the column name.

The gazetteer is being updated as I can. Since it is a database collecting information from any reliable source I have and it is now 10 years old from its first version, expect texts with layered information. This means that each paragraph has usually a different source and it has been written at different times. There may be inconsistencies due to updates and also contrasting views may be represented. In its present state it is a working tool meant to collect and summarise information from publications and preliminary reports; for the book it was checked for readability and inconsistencies and reduced. Tables and charts are based on the information available to me in 2005. It is impossible for me to update frequently tables based on individual potsherds. Despite new discoveries, they are still valid, with the exception of Roca Vecchia, which has yielded vast amounts of evidence, not fully published yet.


Aegean-type pottery has been found in the West Mediterranean for more than a century and several publications have tried to explain the phenomenon from an Aegeancentric point of view. The search for metals, the arrival of Mycenaean people after the LH III B destructions in Mainland Greece and the hypothesis that Mycenaeans had to sail westwards because of the dominance of the Minoan thalassocracy on the eastern routes are only some of the proposals. Yet, what do we know about the Italics, the people who consumed, and eventually produced, Aegean-type pottery?

This question is at the centre of this study. The state of research on this topic, in spite of almost a century and a half of studies is disappointing. The phenomenon is still seen in terms of economic exchange, where the Aegeans are the primary players. There has been no attempt to research methodically the reasons for the Italics to accept and use Aegean-type pottery.

In the last few decades, many anthropologists have concentrated their efforts on ethnographic studies of patterns of consumption and several theoretical models have been published as a result. In particular, globalisation has provided the stimulus for research focussed on cross-cultural consumption of standardised products. Using these studies, this research has tried to provide the Italic perspective, one of consumption as well as production.

The results of this research demonstrate the independence of the Italics in their choices as consumers and provide insights on the social and cultural processes of these Bronze Age populations. As a result, while the role of the Aegeans in the phenomenon appears less important, the complexity of the regional Italic processes associated with the presence of Aegean-type pottery in the West Mediterranean becomes more apparent.


Gianmarco Alberti has reviewed the book in the European Journal of Archaeology, 2006; 9; 131-134. DOI: 10.1177/14619571060090010502

Short extract from the review:

"Chapter 4 deals with this topic and is, in my view, one of the more interesting and innovative analyses carried out on the central Mediterranean documentation so far, even though it requires some critical remarks that I shall stress later. This part is divided into paragraphs, each dealing with one broad central Mediterranean sector (eastern Sicily-Aeolian Islands, western Sicily, Ionian Apulia, Ionian coast). For each area Vianello seeks to identify patterns in the functional context. The status of the archaeological documentation forces him to make some choices (pp. 43-44), the most important being the use of two broad chronological periods (LH I-IIIA1, LH IIIA2-C) as means to seek and compare patterns. This analysis sheds an innovative light on several points; I shall limit myself to a few. The discovery of ties between the Aeolian Islands and Vivara is remarkable with regards to the functional context during LH I-IIIA1 (p. 51). Whilst the connection between the two sites is well-known, the complementarity of their Aegean-type repertoire arises as new evidence and strengthens the picture of ties between these two important areas. Another point worthy of note is the similarity of functional context between the Aeolian archipelago and Thapsos (p. 52), in spite of the different types of documentation (domestic and funerary respectively). Other important points are stressed with regards to western Sicily, an area that saw activity at two relevant sites, Monte Grande (LH I-IIIA) and Cannatello (LH IIIA2-C). The connection between western Sicily and Sardinia is again stressed from a functional context standpoint. On this topic as well, Vianello succeeds in rooting in facts (distribution and pattern of use) what has been stated over the years by several scholars only on the basis of fragmentary evidence. (...) In conclusion, I welcome Vianello's work and I really appreciate his effort in providing a new perspective".

Francesco Iacono has reviewed the volume in Papers of the Institute of Archaeology (PIA). You can access the full review here. Iacono concludes his review with these words:

"The conclusions that Vianello draws from the analysis are largely in line with those suggested through the years by previous scholars, that is of the 'zonal' nature of the distribution of Aegean type wares with only a few important 'gateway' sites, most notably Lipari and Taranto (Bettelli 2002; Bietti Sestieri 1988; Smith 1987; Vagnetti 1999). The suggestion that there is a substantial difference between the usage of the fine wares in the Aegean and the Western Mediterranean represents an interesting novelty, which however needs to be further developed, also incorporating a less naïvely uniformitarian notion of the Aegean world.

The appendices are the real highlight of the book. Here Vianello summarizes a vast amount of  literature often not easily retrievable, offering an essential and comprehensive (perhaps at times too much so) bibliography. As for illustrations, graphs with few exceptions are always simple and clear and the only serious criticism relates with the quality of the maps, which are not very legible. Overall, despite a number of evident shortcomings, Vianello's book can be considered a valuable reference resource, particularly as it collects a large quantity of information and summarizes a wealth of data coming from the most disparate sources. Some additional editorial care would have done more justice to the immense amount of work behind this book."

book cover

Vianello, Andrea. 2005. Late Bronze Age Mycenaean and Italic products in the West Mediterranean: a social and economic analysis, BAR International Series 1439. Oxford: Archaeopress.


Per una pubblicazione aggiornata e completa circa i prodotti Micenei ed Italo-egei del Tardo Bronzo rinvenuti nel Mediterraneo Occidentale è ora disponibile il mio libro pubblicato da Archaeopress di Oxford nella BAR International Series (1439), ISBN 1841718750. Il libro, disponibile solo in inglese, può essere acquistato presso ogni libreria e si trova anche in alcune biblioteche italiane.