Pedological investigation of an early Bronze Age site in southern Italy

Vingiani, S., Minieri, L., Albore Livadie, C., Di Vito, M., Terribile, F. (2017). Geoarchaeology – An International Journal. DOI: 10.1002/gea.21625.

                                                                                                                                                                         Archaeological excavations over the last 40 years in Campania (southern Italy) confirm intense human occupation since the early Bronze Age (EBA). A pedological analysis of a ∼9 m deep pedostratigraphic sequence at Palma Campania (Naples) provides insights into fertility, rates of soil formation, and environmental conditions over the past 10 kyr. Fourteen volcanic soils formed in parent materials from Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei volcanic eruptions were analyzed. Results show that soils differ markedly in terms of thickness, andic properties, chemical fertility, and degree of development. Chemical properties, along with specific soil micromorphological features (such as silt coatings, laminar structure, iron segregations), are interpreted in terms of pedogenetic processes and used to reconstruct past environmental conditions. The degree of soil development, evaluated on the basis of organic matter content and some andic properties, proved more indicative of climate and geomorphological stability than duration of pedogenesis. Since the excavation also revealed an extensive EBA paleosurface and soil, targeted analyses were carried out to gain a better understanding of the impact of human activities and domestic animals on soil properties.