Sicily (in particular, territory of Agrigento - Piano Vento, Monte Grande, S. Angelo Muxaro, Casteltermini, Milocca/Milena  - CL, Eolian Islands, provinces of Catania, Enna and Palermo)


2014 - on going


- Soprintendenze per i Beni culturali e ambientali di Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Palermo

- Prof. G. Castellana

Sulphur is a mineral with great economic importance; it has been used since Antiquity for agricultural, medical, religious and manufacturing purposes. Between the 18th and 20th centuries, before American sulphur entered the international market, Sicily and other Mediterranean regions were the main sources of the mineral. However, the question of the pre-modern sulphur industry still lacks scholarly attention.

The goal of this project is to develop an interdisciplinary approach to this question - an approach using historical, archaeological, epigraphic, archaeometric and experimental methods - to cover a long time period.

The basic idea is that sulphur could be an important indicator of technological development, settlement planning and trade over the centuries in places such as Sicily, where the majority of the project’s studies are planned.

The main objectives are:

1) to investigate the role of sulphur over the course of time;

2) to bridge gaps in our knowledge of different sulphur-producing sites from Prehistory to the Medieval period;

3) to understand the role of Rome in the production and trade of sulphur during the Imperial Roman period;

4) to investigate the technology of production and to characterise the ore-sources and traded products, using laboratory analyses;

5) to reconstruct the health conditions of miners using paleopathological studies;

6) to determine the trade routes for sulphur;

7) to compose a history of sulphur, specifically in the Sicilian context, to show that it constitutes a part of European cultural heritage that must be studied and protected.



"I carusi", oil on canvas, author O. Tomaselli (1866-1956), 1905, conserved in the Modern Art Galery "Sant'Anna" in Palermo.


Sulfur block from the shipwreck of Procchio conserved in the Archaeological Museum of Marciana, Elba (LI).