Estrazione e raffinazione dello zolfo e paesaggio nella Sicilia romana tra IV e VI d.C.

Luca Zambito


Sulphur was important in several fields: military, tanning, wool’s disinfection and many other activities. Nevertheless, the largest quantity of sulphur was used in agriculture, particularly in viticulture as it was used to combat fungal diseases especially in wine production areas. Sicily, and in particular the area surrounding Agrigento, was the main site of sulphur extraction. This built strong relationships with Rome and other agricultural centres in the Mediterranean Sea. Very important among the historical sources and the archaeological evidence are the so called Tabulae sulphuris, concerning the sulphur exploitation at the Agrigento’s area. Recent finds and studies gave a new chronology dating to a few of the tegulae sulphuris and the related sulphur exploitation between the end of the fourth and the sixth centuries. It is now possible to attribute to Sicily (in particular, the “area solfifera”) the trade relationships which arose in Classical times. We must connect these commercial and cultural ties to the export of wheat and other commodities. The main goal of this paper is to show new data on the exploitation structures and the transformation of the mining landscape between Late Antiquity and the Byzantine Age. During this time, Agrigentum lost its function as fiscal centre, maybe because other centres were acquiring this role.


Sulfur Exploitation and Trade, Ancient Landscape, Survey, Roman Economy, Roman Sicily

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