Approximately 2700 years ago, Greek settlers from the Northwestern Peloponnese region of Achaea emigrated to the central coast of Southern Italy along the Gulf of Taranto. The city they founded, Metapontum, served as an important center for Magna Graecia, the lands on the Southern Italic peninsula wholly populated by Hellenic peoples. With growing population came the need for increased agricultural production, with the Khra of Metapontum (those administrative areas separate from the city proper) expanding rapidly inland within 50 years of initial settlement. This study, located in the Venella River Valley approximately 7 kilometers Northwest of the ancient center of Metapontum (now the modern town of Metaponto), seeks to identify and characterize the agricultural soils from this early phase of expansion, in an area known as one of the first utilized for the purpose. To that end, a type sequence was identified and described in the valley bottom containing a buried soil believed to be the ancient agricultural surface. Carbon dating of in situ terrestrial snail shells from this soil was completed, and it was determined to be the appropriate age. Eleven other soil sequences throughout the valley were described, with two of them containing horizons believed to be continuations of the buried soil from the type section. Four of them were located within an archaeological site dating to the early Greek occupation of the valley. From this, each sample collected was subject to X-ray Fluorescence and Mehlich Analysis, to identify the geochemical signature and plant-available nutrients present (the latter serving as proxy record of ancient fertilizer use). This data was then subject to statistical analyses in order to determine both the potential extent of the buried agricultural soil as well as its connection to the soils present within the archaeological site. Furthermore, a first chemostratigraphic framework for the valley was completed, allowing future researchers to directly compare, via geochemical analysis, samples to the framework created by this research. Ultimately, it was determined that the buried soil identified in the type section is geochemically linked to those soils present at the archaeological site, making it highly reasonable that it was the Greek occupation surface. The results of the Mehlich Analysis revealed that some locations possess elevated levels of necessary plant nutrients that may be indicative of ancient agricultural practices, however more work would be necessary to reveal the true extent of modification.
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