The history of Calabria has seen numerous populations and cultures from all over the Mediterranean Area. The area has been inhabited since Palaeolithic times; excavations in the Scalea Grottoes (Torre Talao) have proved this as have graffiti by Bos Primigenius in Papasidero. During the Neolithic period there were scattered settlements, especially in the eastern parts of Calabria. During the Metal Ages new populations settled in Calabria, one of the more important settlements (dating back to late Bronze Age) is the Torre Galli complex near Vibo Valentia. The Greeks landed in mass on the coasts and founded colonies which soon became rich and powerful, so much so that the area became known as Magna Grecia. Various phases, during which several cities alternated in supremacy, characterise this epoch. Reggio Calabria is the first Greek colony founded by the Ions from the Sicilian coasts. Next a group of Achaei founded Sibari, followed by Crotone and Locri, all between 744 B.C. and 670 B.C. The most interesting period is that of the Greek colonisation, who during the 8th century B.C. gave the tip of the peninsular the name Italy. The Italics were the inhabitants of the southern part of Calabria, before the Roman conquest. When the Romans united the various regions into a whole, the name Italic spread from the south to the north until, at the time of the Emperor Augustus in 42 B.C. , it identified the entire Italian Peninsular. There are numerous precious traces of the ancient Greek civilisations left in Calabria. The period under Roman domination is very different from the splendour of the Magna Grecia period. The social and economic growth was halted for a long time, the Calabrese obstructed Roman occupation several times, becoming allies to Hannibal, but in the end Rome conquered the area and started to cut down the forests in Sila and other mountains in Calabria. This caused orographic, hydrographic and geological instability creating landslides and rockfalls.
After the fall of the Roman Empire Calabria was sacked by the Visigoths and Goths. Then the Byzantines held dominion for centuries. During the Byzantine period, Calabria was fortified against Saracen invasions from the sea. In this period there was a strong development of monasteries, which made the area a rich centre for the transmission of ancient cultures in the reproduction of manuscripts. Unfortunately, only a few of the treasures of this period have remained in Calabria. In Rossano the magnificent Codex Purpureus Rossanensis can be admired. The Arabs and Longobards tried to conquer the region without success. Around the year 1,000 A:D: the Normans took over from the Byzantines. Two great protagonists of monasticism lived in this period, Gioacchino da Fiore at the Abbey in San Givanni in Fiore and Brunone of Cologne at the Carthusian Monastery of St. Stephen in Serrra San Bruno, who founded the Carthusian Order. The Normans created the Kingdom of the South and were followed by the Swabians. In the south, Frederick II created one of the most civilised nations in the world for those times, the famous Kingdom of the Sun, a place where different cultures and civilisations, the western cultures, Islam and Greek Orthodox, could meet. Fredrick died in 1250 and the lands fell into the hands of the Angevins who created a feudal system in order to keep an strong hold on the subjects and the territory. The Aragorns came after the Angevins, followed by the Spaniards who were opposed by the philosopher Tommaso Campanella in 1599. After them came the Austrians and the Bourbons and during this period the local population retreated to the hills and mountains to escape the malaria and the Saracen and Turkish incursions along the coasts of Calabria. This phenomenon created internal and external isolation with settlements on hills and in valleys with no means of communication and impassable access during the winter months. In 1862, when Italy was united, calbria boasted only one road that went from north to south reaching Reggio Calabria. The railway did not exist and 90% of the local Communes had no internal or external road systems. During the 18th century a terrible famine and a violent earthquake struck the Calabria of the Bourbons. These happened about the time of the Revolutions . In 1799 Murat, Napoleons brother-in-law, was executed in Pizzo Calabro. During the tumults in the middle of the 19th century the Bandiera brothers were shot. In 1860 Garibaldi brought fresh hopes of change for the good with the beginning of the Kingdom of Italy. The result was a failure, it only produced emigration and misery. In about 1870 the brigands began to cause real problems creating situations of extreme poverty which forced people to leave in massive emigrations. The population in Calabria was practically halved in these years. Nowadays millions of Calabrese people live throughout the world. The efforts of national governments and fascism contributed towards the rupture of the regions isolation. Today, changed economical and social conditions have created an inversion of this tendency. Thanks to tourism, many villages and towns have developed along the coasts, managing to overtake the hill towns in importance. However, this tendency has also created problems; in part building speculation has ruined some of the most beautiful coastlines. The dispersion of the inhabitants has led to a loss of a whole patrimony of culture and traditions which marked the life of the Calabrese people in the past. Only recently have there been any real efforts to restore knowledge of the traditions and culture which Calabria has gleaned from the numerous populations which have passed through this land from all over the Mediterranean basin and Europe.
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