The archaeological site of Motya consists of a small island (ca. 40 ha) in western Sicily, between the present-day cities of Trapani and Marsala. Due to its strategic setting in the middle of the Mediterranean, within the Marsala lagoon, and to the presence of freshwater sources, the site was chosen by Phoenicians as a settlement in the 8th century BC. However, it was occupied since the 17th century BC. In recent years, archaeobotanical samples have systematically been collected from excavated contexts at Motya. Here we present the data collected so far from both secular and sacred contexts dated between the 16th and the 5th centuries BC, attributable to pre-Phoenicians and Phoenician phases. In particular, the Bronze Age is poorly studied in Sicily, with only 9 sites being investigated for plant remains, none of which in western Sicily. Information about past environment was gathered from anthracology, when possible, coupled with pollen data. Mediterranean vegetation, dominated by Quercus evergreen, Pistacia lentiscus L. and Olea europaea L., characterizes the entire timespan. Carpological studies contribute to the environmental reconstruction, also providing data concerning food plants, crop cultivation and processing. Changes in vegetation can be observed, including the introduction of economic species from the East (Punica granatum L. and Juglans regia L.) and plausibly the West (Pinus cf. pinea L.) during the Phoenician occupation. Furthermore, Erica arborea L. and Juniper sp., which no longer grow within a 50 km radius from Motya, were found throughout the studied period. Their disappearance could have been caused by land-overexploitation, aridification or a combination of the two. Noticeable is also the shift from Hordeum vulgare L., the cereal of preference in prehistoric Motya, to naked wheats from the 8th century onwards. Finally, the study of sacred contexts allowed to identify ritual practices and plant offerings, such as Cupressus sempervirens L. and Vitis vinifera L.
Motya through the millenia: Analyzing Phoenician impact on the local vegetation / Moricca, Claudia; Nigro, Lorenzo; Spagnoli, Federica; Cappella, Federico; Ferrante, Nina; Sabatini, Sharon; Sadori, Laura. - (2022), pp. 84-84. (Intervento presentato al convegno 19th Conference of the International Workgroup for Palaeoethnobotany tenutosi a Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic).