By the teeth of the wolf : identifying Elymian ethnicity through the use of neutron activation analysis
Eilert, Eloise Brackenridge
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The goal of this research was to critically analyze both the ethnographic and the archaeological records to determine whether the Elymians, an Early Iron Age (1100 BC to 750 BC) population inhabiting western Sicily, were migrants to western Sicily or whether they belonged to one of the other ethnic groups of the island in order to clarify their ethnicity. I argue that through the use of both the archaeological and ceramic data from a specific Elymian geometric incised ceramic type, stylistically named Denti di Lupo, it can be demonstrated that the Elymians are a separate group from the other ethnic groups on the island. Samples of Denti di Lupo were analyzed with neutron activation analysis (NAA) to identify the number of possible locations of production of Denti di Lupo ceramics. Previously, it was believed that production of Denti di Lupo was at one site (Sant' Angelo Muxaro). NAA identifies two distinctive producers or production locations; Elymian-A produced ware in the west; and Elymian-B produced ware in the east. This rules out the previous idea that Denti di Lupo was produced at only one site (Sant' Angelo Muxaro). These data are used to reinforce Elymian ethnicity, and show Monte Polizzo's (a newly discovered Elymian site) inclusion within the Elymian ethnic group. Examination of the Elymians through their archaeological context and the distribution of Denti di Lupo has established a common ceramic/stylistic link between the five sites that positively identifies them as a distinctive ethnic group in Sicily. Moreover, the spatial evidence provided by Denti di Lupo also demonstrates that the site of Monte Polizzo, a member of the western Elymian group, was interacting with the eastern Elymian site of Montignoli. This is shown by the samples of Elymian-A found at the site. The evidence provided by Denti di Lupo does reinforce the theory that these groups belong to one ethnic group.