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Pithekoussai

The display devoted to Pithekoussai illustrates the development of the first Greek settlement in the western Mediterranean from prehistoric times to the Roman period. One room is devoted to the more recent finds from Punta Chiarito, where, towards the mid-sixth century BC, a landslide buried a small village which had been founded in about the mid-eighth century BC.

History and formationOpened in December 1997 as part of a project aimed at illustrating the historical development of several important sites in Campania, the museum display devoted to Pithekoussai is arranged in two rooms on the first floor of the museum, following on from the section devoted to the prehistory and protohistory of Campania; the settlement, which was the first Greek one on the Italian peninsula and in the whole of the western Mediterranean, represents a turning point in the cultural development of the region. ItineraryThe itinerary begins from room CXXV, where the oldest archaeological evidence from the Island, dating from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Iron Age, is displayed. The pottery and stone finds from the Palaeolithic were found in a quarry in the Cilento district, near to the cemetery of Ischia, while the finds from the middle Bronze Age settlement come from the Castiglione district. Fragments of pottery were found on this hill, together with material from the Appenine culture, representing the first evidence of Mycenean presence (Mycenean IIIA, 1425 - 1300 BC) along the Tyrrhenian coast. The site was inhabited until the Iron Age. The existence of the colonial settlement in the valley of San Montano, used as a burial ground from the mid-eighth century BC to the third century AD, is shown by the rich grave assemblages from the cemetery excavated by Giorgio Buchner and Costanza Gialanella; one of the most important finds is the locally made Late Geometric crater of Euboean type by the Cesnola Painter (750 - 725 BC). This material is followed by the evidence from a suburban area of the Mezzania - Mazzola district of Lacco Ameno, including buildings which have been interpreted as the workshops of an ironsmith and a bronzesmith. There are also fine examples of "Campana A" black slip tableware of the Hellenistic period from the waste material on the acropolis in the proprietà Gosetti, while one entire side of room CXXV is occupied by various marble votive reliefs which mainly depict Apollo and Nymphs with the traditional shells. They were discovered in 1757 at the Nitrodi spring in Barano in association with a temple, situated near a spring which is still in use and dedicated to water deities worshipped in the Roman period, when the island took on the name of Aenaria. The whole of room CXXIV is reserved for more recent finds (1994 - 1997) from Punta Chiarito, located on the southern side of the Island, slightly to the west of the small peninsula of Sant’Angelo (Forio d’Ischia). In this area, towards the mid-sixth century BC, a landslide buried a small village of huts founded in the mid-eighth century BC, which were partly restored following a volcanic eruption at the beginning of the seventh century BC. Some of the most interesting material comes from the most ancient palaeosoil (dating to around 750 - 730 BC), two A2and B3 type Ionic cups, a Laconian black slip krater with vertical handles and a rim decorated with hook-like meanders, a large number of impasto containers, various amphorae and a significant number of weapons, agricultural tools and fishing implements (small billhooks, bronze fishing hooks and lead weights for fishing nets). The most important evidence remains an oval hut measuring 7 x 4 m., admirably reconstructed in a special section of the room, dating to the mid-eighth century BC. Made of dry stone walls with a sloping roof of tiles and supported by wooden poles, the hut was divided by a partition wall between an area used for storage with large amphorae and pithoi and an area with a hearth devoted to female activities such as sewing and cooking.

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Bibliography:

Museo Archeologico 1999.

Location: First floor; rooms CXXIV - CXXV