The title of the Project is The archaeology of Regime Change: Sicily in Transition abbreviated to the acronym SICTRANSIT. The ERC action number is 693600.


The project's purpose is to explore the changes of demography, agricultural production and trade of Sicily through five successive regimes.

These are:

Byzantine—Greek speaking Christian imperial power based at Constantinople (Byzantium, now Istanbul), active in Sicily 6-8th century with a headquarters at Syracuse Aghlabid—Arabic speaking Islamic North African power of the Abbasid (Sunni) confederation based at Baghdad in Iraq, gaining control of Sicily in the 9th century and making its headquarters at Palermo

Kalbid—Arabic speaking Islamic North African Fatimid (Shi'ite) power based at Cairo in Egypt, exercising control over Sicily in the 10-11th century from a principal base at Palermo.

Norman—Latin/French speaking Christian power from Northern Europe exercising control over Sicily and southern Italy 11th to 12th century from a capital at Palermo (Roger II).

Swabian—Latin/German speaking Christian power from Germany exercising control over Sicily and much of Italy in 12th-13th century with its Sicilian base at Palermo (Frederick Barbarossa, Frederick II).

Sources and Method

The archaeological data sources are:

  1. Assemblages from previous excavations
  2. Investigations at Castronovo di Sicilia, focussing on the sites of Monte Kassar (7/8th century Byzantine stronghold), Colle San Vitale (possible 9-11th century Arab then Norman citadel), Casale San Pietro (Byzantine then Arab agricultural centre), Castronovo town (Arab, Norman, Swabian and extant town.
  3. Landscape and paleoecological survey in the vicinity of Castronovo, Palermo and Piazza Armerina/Sofiana

Figure 1: Our sources. 1. Agrigento (5th-7th) 2. Castronovo, Monte Kassar (7th-9th), San Vitale (9th-11th) 3. Castronovo, San Pietro (6th-13th) 4. Catania, Chiesa di Sant'Agata (8th) 5. Contrada Colmitella (7th-13th) 6. Contrada Sant'Agata (5th-6th) 7. Entella (11th-13th) 8. Mazara del Vallo (10th-14th) 9. Palermo, Castello San Pietro (9th-10th) 10. Monte Maranfusa (12th-13th) 11. Palermo Town (9th-13th) 12. Piazza Armerina (10th-12th) Rocchicela de Mineo (9th) Segesta/Calatabarbaro (12th-13th) 15. Segesta (13th) San Vito Lo Capo (12th-13th) 17. Sofiana (7th-9th)

The method is to investigate the experience of the people on the ground using settlement forms and patterns, pottery, animal bone, human bone and paleoecology.

The line of argument (FIG 2) is that data collected from our sources (coins, seals, pottery, plant remains, faunal remains and human remains from cemeteries and settlements) will be analysed using scientific procedures (thin section, organic residues, stable isotopes, aDNA) to reveal the character of peoples, farming, diet, industry and trade and the way these changed between the sixth and thirteenth centuries.

Figure 2: Overall structure of research

Samples to be analysed are as follows:

  1. ceramics and other artefacts at Rome (Tor Vergata)
  2. human bone, animal bone and organic residues at York (Bioarch)
  3. botanical remains at Salento (Lecce)


Our timetable is shown in Fig 3.

Two seasons of Evaluation were carried out in 2014, and 2015 and the Project was designed in 2014-2015. The implementation stage of the project begins on 1 Aug 2016 and will run for five years. The fieldwork season is (currently) the month of September in years 1-4.

Figure 3: Timetable

The team

The team is deployed as follows:

At York: Martin Carver (PI), Ol Craig (Organic residue analysis and co-ordination), Jane Thomas-Oates (organic residue analysis), Léa Drieu (PDRA; organic residue analysis, amphorae), Jasmine Lundy (PhD, organic residue analysis, cuisine), Michelle Alexander (stable isotope analysis), Alice Ughi (PhD, stable isotopes), Nathan Wales (aDNA analysis), Aurore Monnereau (PhD, aDNA), Veronica Aniceti (PhD, animal remains), Malin Holst (human remains), Helen Goodchild (geophysics), Neil Gevaux (digital media), Madeleine Hummler (field supervisor survey; publication).

At Rome: Alessandra Molinari (Co-director of Research, early medieval Sicily), Vivien Prigent (coins and seals), Paola Orecchioni (PDRA, field supervisor, ceramics), Antonino Meo (PDRA, field supervisor, ceramics), Francesca Colangeli (PhD, glass and metalwork), Gabriele Ciccone (PhD, visual systems), Alfonso Mammato (coins).

At Lecce: Girolamo Fiorentino (palaoecology), Milena Primavera (plant remains) and post-graduate team.

We have an advisory panel who help to frame programmes and interpret results: Lucia Arcifa (Professor of Archaeology at Catania), Annliese Nef, Université de Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne, Chris Wickham (former Professor of History, University of Oxford), Eduardo Manzano (Centro de Ciencas Humanas y Sociales, Madrid), Giuseppe Barbera (University of Palermo).

Administration. Each University (York, Rome Tor Vergata, Lecce) has a separate contract with ERC. The PI is Martin Carver and the co-ordinating manager is Jo Tozer (York).











Lucia Arcifa


Guiseppe Barbera


Eduardo Manzano


Annliese Nef


Stefano Vassallo


Chris Wickham



Martin Carver (York)


Alessandra Molinari (Rome)


Adminsitrative Support

Jo Tozer

Co-ordinating manager


Ol Craig (BioArCh)

Organic residue analysis

Michelle Alexander (BioArCh)

Stable isotope analysis

Camilla Speller (BioArCh)

aDNA analysis

Nathan Wales (BioArCh)

aDNA analysis

Jane Thomas-Oates

Analytical Chemistry

Malin Holst

Human remains

Veronica Aniceti

Animal Bone

Helen Goodchild


Madeleine Hummler


Jasmine Lundy


Léa Drieu


Aurore Monnereau

Alice Ughi

(Stable Isotopes)


Vivien Prigent

Coins and seals

Paola Orrechioni


Francesca Colangeli

Glass and Metal

Antonino Meo



Girolamo Fiorentino


Milena Primavera

Plant Remains