High-resolution sediment analysis reveals Middle Bronze Age byre-houses at the site of Oppeano (Verona province, NE Italy)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPLOS ONE. 2022, 17 (8), e0272561. 10.1371/journal.pone.0272561
High-resolution sediment analysis allowed us to identify two Middle Bronze Age (MBA 1, 1650–1550 cal a BCE) byre-houses at the waterlogged site of Oppeano “4D”, south of Verona (Veneto region, NE Italy). The site lies in a low-lying valley incised by the Adige River in its LGM alluvial fan. In this fluvio-palustrine environment burial and taphonomic conditions were such that the archaeological record was extremely well preserved. The wooden elements making up basal parts of nine ‘huts’ were in fact exposed at Oppeano, and so were their internal accretion deposits. These featured finely laminated dung units deriving from the stalling of small herbivores, possibly ovicaprids, intercalated with repeated accumulations of wood ash. This was produced in large and multi-stratified hearths that were exposed within each hut. Organic petrology provided evidence of the production of wood tar inside one of the studied structures. At Oppeano 4D it was thus demonstrated that these structures were not just byres or stables, but spaces that housed humans together with animals at least during some periods of the year, hence byre-houses. The identification of byre-houses in a Middle Bronze Age settlement is key for the reconstruction of socio-economic aspects of Bronze Age economy and production systems.