• Castello Nuovo
  • Sciacca


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    • 1380


      • _Excavation of the late medieval midden in the Castello Nuovo at Sciacca_ As part of the P.O.R. Sicily 2000-2006, in 2008 the Archaeological Superintendency of Agrigento undertook excavations in the area in front of the Castello Nuovo at Sciacca. A trench on the eastern side of the castle brought to light a pit, cut into the limestone bedrock, containing a substantial quantity of charcoal and animal bones and numerous pottery and glass fragments and metal artefacts. This fill, interpretable as a dump of domestic rubbish, formed over a short period of time, probably through a succession of dumps sealed by layers of ash, thrown in as a disinfectant. However, all the pottery finds date to a period between the end of the 15th century, that is the time when the castle was founded by Guglielmo Peralta, and the beginning of the 16th century. This indicates that the dump was probably the result of a clearing out or cleaning operation which occurred during the 1500s. In fact, in 1529 the castle, which from the 1400s had become the residence of the counts of Luna, heirs of the Peralta, became state property on the wishes of Charles V and this probably marked the beginning of its decline. Among the finds the most prevalent material was pottery produced by the Saccensi kilns, whose origin was confirmed by archeometric analyses. Lead glazed wares were the most common, monochrome or decorated in brown or in brown and green. They were also decorated with motifs of heraldic derivation – shields, tufts, crossed crosses – or stylised vegetal and geometric motifs – waves, plaits, swags, leaves. There was a significant quantity of majolica from the area of Valencia, decorated in blue or blue and gold lustre, which document the continuity of trading relationships with the Spanish peninsula at the end of the 14th century and throughout the 15th century. Also present were imports from central-northern Italy, in particular Tuscany, with productions from Montelupo and the Paduan area, attested by fragments of polychrome graffito ware. The other objects found –thimbles, globular buttons, bronze hair pins and numerous iron nails – also document everyday life in the castle. The general impression gained from the finds analysis is that of a more or less self-sufficient management of resources through the use of goods of high quality and technique, data which should not be surprising in an urban context and in an aristocratic residence. Furthermore, waste from iron, bronze and glass working attests the presence of workshops around the castle. The excavation of an ancient midden turns rubbish into a document: waste becomes history that recounts everyday life, the household furnishings, food, habits. For this reason it was chosen to undertake a complete analysis, using modern diagnostic techniques, of the clays, vegetal and animal remains. On the basis of the results a reconstruction of the types of cultivations and vegetation of the ancient landscape has been made and the analysis also shed light on the dietary habits of the time.


      • Valentina Caminneci, Maria Serena Rizzo, Maria Antonietta Russo. 2012. “Ci sono più cose in cielo e in terra...” Due metodologie diverse per investigare il passato: il Castello Nuovo di Sciacca tra storia e archeologia . FOLD&R Italy: 270.


      • V. Caminneci, M.S. Rizzo (a cura di), 2009, Dal butto alla storia. Vita al Castello Nuovo di Sciacca tra il XIV e il XVI secolo, Agrigento.
      • V. Caminneci, M.S. Rizzo (a cura di), 2009, Il Castello Nuovo di Sciacca. La Ricerca archeologica, Sciacca.
      • V. Caminneci, M.S.Rizzo, M.C. Parello, 2009, Nuovi dati dal territorio di Sciacca: le ceramiche dei butti del Castello Nuovo e di Poggio Diana, in V Congresso Nazionale di Archeologia Medievale, a cura di Giuliano Volpe, Pasquale Flavia, Palazzo della Dogana, Salone del Tribunale (Foggia), Palazzo dei Celestini, Auditorium (Manfredonia), 30/09/09-3/10/09, Firenze: 609-614.