This study investigates to what extent Bronze Age societies in Northern Italy were permeable accepting and integrating non-local individuals, as well as importing a wide range of raw materials, commodities, and ideas from networks spanning continental Europe and the Mediterranean.
During the second millennium BC, the communities of Northern Italy engaged in a progressive stabilization of settlements, culminating in the large polities of the end of the Middle/beginning of the Late Bronze Age pivoted around large defended centres (the Terramare). Although a wide range of exotic archaeological materials indicates that the inhabitants of the Po plain increasingly took part in the networks of Continental European and the Eastern Mediterranean, we should not overlook the fact that the dynamics of interaction were also extremely active on local and regional levels.
Mobility patterns have been explored for three key-sites, spanning the Early to Late Bronze Age (1900–1100 BC), namely Sant’Eurosia, Casinalbo and Fondo Paviani, through strontium and oxygen isotope analysis on a large sample size (more than 100 individuals). The results, integrated with osteological and archaeological data, document for the first time in this area that movements of people occurred mostly within a territorial radius of 50 km, but also that larger nodes in the settlement system (such as Fondo Paviani) included individuals from more distant areas. This suggests that, from a demographic perspective, the process towards a more complex socio-political system in Bronze Age Northern Italy was triggered by a largely, but not completely, internal process, stemming from the dynamics of intra-polity networks and local/regional power relationships.