THE GEOARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CHUDDIA RIVER VALLEY, WESTERN SICILY
The Chuddia River Valley (230m a.s.l.) is bound by two archaeologically significant mountains Montagna Grande (750m a.s.l.) to the North and Monte Polizzo (700m a.s.l.) to the south. Montagna Grande is a highly faulted, fractured, and folded structure of Calcarenite (Scaglia Fm., 68-31 Ma). Clast-supported alluvial debris-flow fans create basal slopes ranging from 15 to 25 degrees. The Armata Fan contains a paleosol development, including a well-preserved A-horizon. The Lentini Fan (M. Grande?s southwestern slope) contains significant geological and archaeological data. A series of eight stacked younger channels have scoured and deposited angular limestone particles. These minor channels contain diagnostic ceramics (Neolithic to Copper Age, 6800 to 3100 BC.), equine skeletal fragments, and terrestrial snail shells (Theba pisana, Rumina decollata, Cepaea nemoralis).
Monte Polizzo is dominated by a thick succession of conglomerate (Terravecchia Fm., 11-6 Ma) made up of quartz arenite pebbles to boulders. Twenty-five stratigraphic sections along the banks of the Chuddia River contain variable fluvial sedimentation (clay to conglomerate), diagnostic ceramics, charcoal, paleoecological indicators, and interactions with the adjacent alluvial fans of Montange Grande. Sediment samples from the paleosol, fluvial, and alluvial fan stratigraphic sections under went particle-size, carbon content, and neutron activation analyses. Paleoecological and chronological investigations of the land snail shells, organic rich units, bone, and charcoal acquired from the project?s stratigraphic sections and excavations are undergoing stable isotopic (O,C) analyses and radiocarbon (AMS) dating.