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Thanks to two projects at the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Vienna, however, important data has now been brought to light regarding settlement activity during this epoch, as well as the period's economic and religious history.From Farmland to Heavenly Consecration For ten years the two projects focused their attention on farmland in the northeastern Sicilian village of Torrenova (some 120 kilometres west of Messina) that demonstrably served as a monastery between the 12th and 16th centuries: San Pietro di Deca.While the ancient era saw the island dominated first by the Greeks and later the Roman Empire, in the High Middle Ages it was the centre of the Norman state in Southern Italy.
The finds were subsequently exposed over the course of several excavation campaigns.A Church Squared Thanks to numerous building remains, the church was able to be dated to the early Norman period (from the year 1061 onward).To the surprise of the entire team, subsequent work even revealed the apse of an older building probably with ritual function dating from Late Antiquity. Ewald Kislinger University of Vienna Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies Postgasse 7/1/31010 Vienna, Austria T 43 / (0)1 / 4277 - 41008Austrian Science Fund FWFMag.The project work proved that the Conventazzo constituted the essential link between the church complex and the villa rustica. Kislinger explains: "From the Romans to the Byzantines to the Normans and concluding with the Spanish period in Sicily, we have found vestiges of human settlement in S. This demonstrates continuity and change at this farmland estate over a millennium."Numerous coin finds vividly demonstrate the once bustling activity at the estate, with the finds related to the monastery's yearly fair, which written sources document until 1585.
Overall, the finds (among others, from some forty excavated graves) offer a first glimpse into the lives of the rural population of an island whose historical analysis previously applied primarily to the upper class.
Archaeological excavations have provided the first substantiation that a farmland estate in Sicily boasts a history which reaches back over a thousand years.