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Ancient Stones

Megalithic monuments unfailingly excite attention. Not only are they impressivestructures in the modern landscape, but they also provide that thread of continuityfrom prehistoric times to the present day that allows us to explore our history andour humanity. Such monuments have long been recognized across Europe from theshores of the Mediterranean to the Baltic, from the Atlantic to the Black Sea coasts.They have intrigued scholars for centuries and with the scientific and technicaladvances of modern archaeology we are finally beginning to understand somethingof their purpose and the meanings they had to those who built them. Those sameresearches are also revealing the chronology of the sites, emphasizing the numerousdifferent traditions across time and space. Many of these monuments turn out to befairly short-lived, the focus of ceremonies and celebrations for just a few generations.The megaliths of the central Mediterranean are not well-known compared those in otherparts of Europe, nor are they known-well in terms of their date and cultural associations.In this book Salvatore Piccolo introduces a group of sites in Sicily that usefully expandsthe horizons of the megalithic world. The sites discussed illustrate the range and scaleof the monumental architecture involved and, one might hope, will lead to the discoveryof further examples to enrich and extend their distribution across the island.The discovery of early Bronze Age Castelluccian pottery at “Cava dei Servi” provides thefirst real clues as to the date and cultural context of these sites. It is a discovery that addssupport to the idea of connections between Sicily and Malta at this time.The dozen or so Maltese dolmens are certainly alike in form and scale, and are widely seenas post-temple period constructions. Both groups may also be connected with the cluster ofdolmens forming the Otranto group at the extreme southern tip of the ‘Heel’ of Italy.Ancient Stones will no doubt provide the inspiration for further research. Having identified thefirst crop of sites and described them in detail, much now needs to be done to explore them,understand them, and also to conserve them and present them to the local visitors and touristsalike. Here though we begin the task of bringing the dolmen culture of Sicily back to life.

Timothy Darvill

OBEProfessor of Archaeology,

Bournemouth University, UK

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