Neolithic occupation at Sotta in Corsica-du-Sud

As part of the construction project of eleven villas, the prescription of the diagnosis (Drac de Corse) carried out between April and May 2022 (RO C. Ranché) allowed to confirm the presence of a Neolithic site in the southern slopes on the wing of Punta Campana in Sotta. A preventive excavation carried out from mid-November 2022 to the beginning of March 2023 on an area of ​​approximately 2200 m² revealed the presence of a late Neolithic (Basian) and final Neolithic (Terrinian) establishment. Late Neolithic occupation is preserved only in one sector of the excavation. The final Neolithic occupation, with sites of up to 2 m of stratigraphy, is exceptionally well-preserved considering the insular knowledge and very steep topographical context. Some signs of Bronze Age occupation present in the upper colluvium indicate the presence of a fortified biotope probably located higher up on Punta Campana.

NEOLITHIC Occupation (IVE MILLENNIUM BC)

The diagnosis and subsequent excavation revealed the presence of fragments of Late Neolithic (Basian) structures and levels preserved in the basin. Dated at diagnosis from the beginning of IVE millennium BC, these remains seem to belong to a polylobed stone structure, inside which an obsidian grinding workshop was documented (cutting waste, cores, more or less fragmented lamellar supports, blades and other finished objects). The Basian occupation probably underwent severe erosion before the formation of the Terinian occupation.

Occupation of the FINAL NEOLITHIC (IIIE MILLENNIUM BC)

The last Neolithic (Terrine) occupation discovered in Dilligato is characterized by terraces created by digging the substrate and building reinforcing walls that adhere to the various rocky chaos present on the site. Occupancy and activity levels were excavated on these terraces.
The top of the site has a more complex organization, with a “bastion” supported by an impressive terrace wall, completely preserved and measuring approximately 0.9 to 1.2 m in height above the preserved circulation level. This wall is built of large granite blocks with a top layer of blocks arranged flat.

Under this wall, the first arched structure, very well preserved with facings 0.7 to 0.8 m high, provides a lot of information about the architectural elements that were at altitude. The internal cladding of the structure is made of small granite slabs arranged vertically and topped by several rows of blocks arranged in a transversely joined slab. The outer facing, lower because it was built at the edge of the large tank excavation, is less neat, but has two lateral “buttresses” at the ends of the structure. The eastern “buttress” is connected to a built-up landing giving access to a corridor located between the terrace wall of the “bastion” and the structure below. The inner part of the wall of the arch structure has an empty space, at the base of which blocks are arranged across the surface.

These blocks are glued under the outer cladding (counterweight technique) and form a groove with the edge of the inner cladding designed to be installed and blocked against the beginning of the roof or its support pins (two restitution hypotheses are studied). This indication of the beginning or support of the roof, as well as the pronounced inclination of the inner cladding to the interior, indicate that it was a semi-conical roof with a more or less steep slope. The interior of the structure reveals a furniture-rich soil level beneath the wall slides as well as a lens of reddish sediment.

The part designated as a corridor or axis of circulation was probably covered by the adjacent roof – or the overhang of the structure – as several vases or the bottoms of storage vases were discovered at the site, both at the top of the terrace and on the inner paving of the wall of the structure, against the beginning of the roof. This corridor may have provided access to the ‘bastion’ via a staircase built into the terrace by means of stepped blocks emerging laterally from the gable. This corridor provides access to the south to a flat area provided by two small terraced walls adjacent to the rocky chaos below the structure.

These features indicate the presence of a craft, more than a domestic, quarter incorporating a raised section – or “bastion” – composed of walls and cells associated with ground levels probably contemporaneous with the construction and use of the structure. in the arc of the circle the latest, described above.

Another unexpected discovery for this type of site is the fact that two more structures of the same type with a similar footprint were discovered under this first structure. However, building techniques appear to have evolved and improved during the various identified phases, all of which are a priori related to the latest Neolithic. The “tell” type stratigraphy with the constancy of spaces and architectures is thus highlighted in at least two different sectors of the site. All buildings of this type are oriented in the same way, with their backs to the slope, probably because of their orientation towards the valley, but also because of the protection of the interior spaces from significant torrents.

The question of the function of these buildings needs to be clarified, but they could be buildings intended for food storage, for the operation of metallurgical activities (rubified zone, cast iron waste, copper objects, treatment of analyzed sediments) and other types. craft activities.
The site was surrounded in the lower part by a system of converging ditches, palisade and in certain places probably ended with walls. This device could fulfill both a defensive role and a role of drainage and protection of inlet structures. The present study and the geomorphological and sedimentary analyzes aim mainly to confirm and better characterize the dynamics related to this system.

RICH AND VARIED FURNITURE

The site, and in particular part of the ‘bastion’ and its lower terraces, yielded a relatively unusual abundance of metallic copper features for this type of context, where it is generally assumed – standardly observed – that objects and waste are almost systematically remelted. because the deposits of raw materials are so far away (Upper Corsica, Sardinia, etc.). In addition to finished objects (double-pointed awls of various sizes, spatulas, ring, “zebulon”), numerous small elements related to the smelting (and probably non-smelting) activity (ingot molds, copper drops and drops, “slag”, ingots and/or fragments) have been discovered copper plates). Series related to these activities and objects will need to be subject to restoration and in-depth study to determine the composition and provenance of the alloys.

The faunal remains consist mainly of bovine (and goat?) teeth and rarer postcranial skeletal parts, most of which were burned, confirming the poor preservation of organic matter due to the acidic Ph sediments of granitic origin.

Other categories of furniture, numbering in the tens of thousands, with a clear numerical superiority of unturned ceramics, are also made up of the stone industry based on flint, obsidian, rhyolite and quartz, arrowheads, polishers, soft rock beads, scales (loom weights), spindle whorls, millstones stones, grinding wheels, some polished axes and pebble tools (hammers, trowels, anvils, etc.). These elements reflect the presence of intensive and/or long-term activities concerning all aspects of daily life and economy of Neolithic societies. In particular, an in-depth anthracological and carpological study of numerous sediment samples collected during the operation is planned.

BRONZE AGE OCCUPANCY INDEXES (IIE AND IER millennium BC)

According to the bibliography and research carried out during the diagnosis, a Bronze Age settlement has been found in the vicinity and in the excavation area. This occupation is evidenced by the remains, mainly ceramic, found here in the upper levels of the stratigraphic sequence, ensured by the dynamics of the colluvium and perhaps also by the existence of paleochans filled with the progress of the occupation. It is indisputable that the peak of Punta Campana, which dominates the site and all the surrounding areas, was structured and occupied during the Bronze Age and then the Iron Age. If this peak currently represents the remains of medieval and then modern/modern occupation, it would seem that the anomalies visible below these remains in the vegetation could belong to this chronology (tower level? fortification?).

MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY USE OF SPACE

The immediate vicinity of the preventive operation area also has significant modern occupation, of which the ruins of houses, a “dairy” and ovens remain. In the excavation area itself, the terraces from this period more or less repeat the Neolithic terraces, which for millennia shaped the local landscape with slightly different orientations. The establishment of these terraces for the cultivation of olive trees is documented both in collective memory and on several hundred-year-old specimens. This apparently had little effect on the remains of the Neolithic site, at least where they were deeply buried.

Layout: SAS CAPA
Scientific control: Corsican dragon
Archeological research: Inrap
scientific officer: Florian Soula, Inrap
Regional manager : Christophe Ranché, Inrap

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