Around 1000 BC. Absolute dates for the Final Bronze Age – Early Iron Age transition in Italy: wiggle-match 14C dating of two tree-trunk coffins from Celano

  • J. van der Plicht
  • A.J. Nijboer
Keywords: Final Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, Italy, Celano, wiggle-match dating


At Celano (Abruzzo region, Italy), rare tumulus tombs of the Final Bronze Age were excavated, yielding waterlogged coffins of oak wood. Two tombs were dated by Wiggle-Match Dating (WMD), using the conventional 14C method. This shows that the tumuli were erected around 1030 BC, while the associated artefacts in the sarcophagi are attributable to the final stages of the Bronze Age (FBA) in Italy. Fibulae similar to those found in both tombs at Celano are recovered in modest numbers all over the Italian peninsula and even in Croatia and nearby regions (Glogović 2003; von Merhart 1969, pls. 4, 5, 7). 
Our date of ca. 1030 BC for the last stages of the Bronze Age in Italy has consequences for the beginning of the Iron Age, which should start around 1000-950 BC, an assessment that is consistent with other radiocarbon sequences obtained for Italy, such as the sequence for Latium Vetus and elsewhere in the western Mediterranean.