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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

The Upper Simeto Valley Project (Sicily): an Inside-out View of a Rediscovered Landscape

A research project of the Department of Archaeology.


Sicily is widely studied in terms of a series of successive invasions (Greek, Roman, Arab, etc), in other words from the ‘outside in’. Consequently, much archaeological fieldwork has concentrated on the coastal plains in the hinterlands of colonial settlements. This project aimed to approach the Sicilian landscape and its connectivity with the wider Mediterranean world from the ‘inside out’.

Fieldwork focused on the three comuni of Bronte, Maletto and Maniace on the north-western (inland) flank of Mount Etna. Two seasons were conducted in 2006 and 2007. Here, the archaeological evidence for the prehistoric and Medieval periods is comparatively well-studied, but much less is known about the Greek, Roman, Late Antique and Early Medieval periods. The project used field survey to establish the character of settlement and material culture of these periods. Some key themes were explored including the nature of relationships with coastal communities and colonial powers across time and the risks and opportunities of living alongside an active volcano.

The results of the fieldwork are now in the process of being analysed to be published in a monograph in 2014.

A landscape view of the research area

Published Results

Chapter in book

  • Leone,A., Witcher, R., Privitera, F. & Spigo, U. (2007). The Upper Simeto Valley Poject. An interim report of the first season. In Understanding Upland Landscapes: Interdisciplinary Investigations of Sicily. Fitzjohn, M. London: Accordia Research Institute.


From the Department of Archaeology

Scottish Soldiers Project

Cooperating with the Palace Museum in China