Caulonia 2000


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From the Prehistoric and Protohistoriceras to the Greek and Roman ages
by Maria Teresa Iannelli

Reconstructing the various stages of man’s life in this territory is nearly impossible because of the total lack of data connected with the prehistoric and protohistoric eras. The same applies for the ages closer to ours, the information we have is not enough for a complete historical comprehension of the happenings. For this reason it will be necessary to consider the territory of the nowadays Caulonia in the light of the happenings in the vaster territory of today’s Locride (between Cape Bruzzano and Punta Stilo) for which we are notably more informed. At this point in the researches, man has not been proved to have lived in this territory in the paleolithic era; however it is certain that the dwellers of this part of the Ionian coast did not have fixed homes, they lived in natural caves and were hunters. Consistent clues indicating the presence of a neolithic village are found in the Prestarona locality in the municipality of Canolo; there have not been proper digs, but the objects found on the surface of the land show the presence of pottery decorated by fingernails or shells (by imprinting the shell’s pattern), utensils and shards ofobsidian (black, shiny rock imported from the Eolie islands).

Regarding the Iron age (X-IX century B.C.), we have a few more elements to work with thanks to the necropolis found in the localities of Canale, Ianchina and Patarriti in the municipality of Locri, in the districts of Stefanelli di Gerace and S. Stefano and even in an area near Caulonia, in the district of S. Onofrio in the municipality of Roccella. By this age, man was working with metals, mostly bronze and iron; he was also fashioning crude clay pots; he was also now dedicated to agriculture and cattle breeding. He was building villages of huts and burying the dead, along with many riches (vases, weapons, pins, bracelets, necklaces, etc depending on the deceased person’s sex ), in tombs dug in the rock. Sometimes these men cremated their dead, gathering the ashes in big crude pots called Acromi.
At the dawn of the VIII century B.C., a new event occurred in the west Mediterranean: the Greeks, from different parts of Greece, touched on the coasts of Campania, Calabria and Sicily and settled building colonies.
The Locride territory had settlements in Locri Epizefiri (today’s Locri and Portigliola), in ancient Caulonia (today’s Monasterace Marina), later inhabited by Crotone. The indigenous elements, who in the protohistoric ages had inhabited the high planes, gradually integrated with the Greek colonies who brought a more evolved and refined civilisation. The cities (poleis) of Locri and Caulonia which rose on the coast, conditioned the historical events of the surrounding territories under their influence. Today we are still uncertain about the territorial limits between the two colonies, it has also not been established whether the territory now called Caulonia was under the influence of the Locresi or the Cauloniati. It is, however, certain that Caulonia strongly felt the effects of the contrasts between the Locresi, allied with the Siracusians, and the poleis of Reggio and Crotone, to which they were probably bound. The hostilities between Locri and Crotone culminated in a battle fought on the river Sagra (the whereabouts of which are still unknown) half way through the VI century B.C. The outcome favoured the Locresi, who, from then on, established their supremacy over that of Crotone. It appears that Caulonia found advantage from this victory because the inhabitants began to make coins in the second half of the VI century B.C. The beautiful silver coins (Stateri incusi) belong to this era.
The Incusa technique characterises all the coin making of all the Magno Greek colonies, with the exception of Locri, which seems to have begun making coins later. The coins have a scene in relief on one side and the same scene hollowed out on the other side. The scene on the Caulonian coins of this period depict a naked man, standing tall, whose left arm is held outstretched and bears another smaller figure; next to him is a deer whose head is turned backwards.
The emission of these coins represents great economic power and autonomy for Caulonia. The V and IV centuries are dominated by threats on behalf of the Lucani against the western Greek influence and by the tyrant of  Siracusa, Dioniso I’s, expansion objectives of extending his territory over all Magna Grecia.
Dionisio and the Lucani became allies against the Lega italiota, who were all the italo-greek cities of southern Italy with the exception of Locri who remained faithful to its alliance with Siracusa.
The Lega italiota however, was defeated by the Lucani and in 399 B.C. Dionisio destroyed the city of Caulonia, deporting the population to Siracusa and handing over the land to the Locresi. Caulonia was rebuilt entirely shortly afterwards.

Between the end of the IV century and the beginning of the III century B.C., precisely after the death of the siracusian tyrant Agatocle who had restricted Caulonia’s power, the Lucani and the Bretti reinitiated their invasions of the italo-greek cities gaining most of the Magna Grecia territories, including the cities of Locri and Caulonia. We are in the year 282 B.C. when Rome decides to intervene in Magna Grecia against the Bretti and the Lucani. First occasionaly, securing strongholds in Locri, Crotone and Thurii, then triumphing definitively over those people in 276 B.C. During this time the Roman force challenged Pirro, king of Epiro, who had intervened in Magna Grecia as allies of Taranto which had repeatedly instated strongholds at Locri, forcing him to leave Italy.
From here onwards, Rome will carry on confirming its predominance over Magna Grecia which it will fully conquer after its victory over Hannibal.
During the Roman ages, the Greek city of Caulonia seems to have been abandoned, while the more important Locri became a fully functioning “municipium”.
In the territory in question, as in the rest of Calabria, the typical Roman settlements are characterised by the construction of big structures known as “villae”. These were essentially farms conceived for the agricultural exploitation of the land. The “villae”, which based their economy on large estates and on the work of slaves, combined buildings and production equipment with residential sections, often particularly monumental, designed as the master’s living quarters.

The most important structures in this territory, and have also been subject to archaeological research, are “Il Naniglio” at Gioiosa Jonica, and the villa in the district of Fontanelle di Monasterace; further north, near Locri, recent digs have brought to light another monumental structure near the nowadays casino Macri in the municipality of Locri as well as the already famous Villa di contrada Palazzi in the municipality of Casignana. This last villa is thought to have functioned as “statio”, that is, a resting spot along the great road that linked Capua to Reggio, built in the II century B.C., and which roughly coincides with today’s SS106 Jonica.
Also in the territory of today’s Caulonia, along the road which leads from Marina to the medieval “borgo”, small sections of a farm have been found with paving in “cocciopesto” (a crunbled mixture of bricks and mud), and recycled use of construction materials documented by the presence of a capital with decoration in cincture.



From the Prehistoric and Protohistoriceras to the Greek and Roman ages
by Maria Teresa Iannelli


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