Occupation surfaces sealed by the Avellino eruption of Vesuvius at the Early Bronze Age village of Afragola in southern Italy: a micromorphological analysis
This paper reconstructs the use of space and defines activity areas within a single hut (Hut 8) at the Early Bronze Age village of Afragola (southern Italy). The village, consisting of a number of huts and other structures, was covered by approximately 1m of volcanic ash during the eruption of Vesuvius in 3550 ± 20BP. Thirteen samples were collected from inside the hut to analyze the spatial variability in sedimentary characteristics among three areas of Hut 8-the apsidal, central, and entrance areas. The micromorphological analysis revealed details about the occupation surface and its relationship to features and material remains in the hut not apparent in the field. The apsidal area was probably used for storage but not of solids, as no significant quantities of organic material were found. The central area contains a small oven, calcareous ash from fires, and organic material composed of charred remains and bone fragments and was likely used for small-scale household tasks. A possible connection exists between the lithics and the microstratigraphic sequencing in the area west of the oven, suggesting that people congregated there to perform specific tasks. The entrance area contains highly compacted and heterogeneous sediments that were brought in from outside. Notable is the paucity of anthropogenic materials found inside the hut, especially given the remarkable preservation offered by the thick cover of volcanic ash. We hypothesize that Hut 8 was not occupied long enough to produce a large amount of debris or that it had limited indoor activities and was thoroughly cleaned.