Along the Adriatic and Ionian coasts of Apulia numerous multi-phase settlements defended by dry-stone fortifications were established in the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1700 to 1500 BC), making this region the extensively militarised area of the entire South during the Bronze Age. Until now it has been believed that such fortifications spread in Italy from the 17th century BC, with the Protoapennine enceinte at Coppa Nevigata (Foggia) being the oldest known example. However, new data deriving from aerial and terrestrial surveys in the Salento Peninsula suggest an earlier beginning of this phenomenon already in the early stages of the 2nd millennium BC. If confirmed by WALL-Fare project results, such early appearance of stonework enclosures forming a militarized landscape should be considered an earlier marker for settlements hierarchy and increased social conflict, giving crucial clues in the overall social history of the Mediterranean. The project plans a global reconstruction of the Bronze Age landscape of the South-East by applying a multi-disciplinary approach, combining different kind of sources and methodologies. Available legacy data will be integrated, and for the first time systematized in an open access GIS-related database. The combination of traditional and innovative remote/proximal sensing techniques, field surveys, non-invasive geo-archaeological prospections, small-scale excavations on 10 sites, and a large-scale absolute dating campaign (50 samples) will fuel the comprehension of the territory in terms of density, dimensions, structural features, and chronology of the walled sites, as well as regarding their mutual relationships, settlement patterns, hierarchies, and catchment areas. The consistently renewed picture of the earliest centuries of the 2nd millennium BC that will result from WALL-Fare will allow to reconsider the rise of the fortifications along the coast in the 17th century from a different angle, considering long-term regional transformation in the frame of the global Mediterranean scenario. Results from WALL-Fare will pave the way for a larger project based on computational archaeology, that will explore through Agent-based Modeling the relationship between the emergence of fortified landscapes, conflict and social complexity.
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