The province (or regione) of Molise is roughly the size of Lincolnshire or Devon, and stretches from the Apennine mountains to the Adriatic coast (FIG. I). In the Roman period Molise was occupied by the Samnite peoples and by related tribes such as the Frentani (Salmon, 1967, 25, map I). The historical tradition describes the Samnites as a rustic and warlike people, whom the Romans subdued only after the long series of savage wars in the last three centuries BC. Despite this historical evidence, however, the lack of previous archaeological research in Molise until the recent past meant that the archaeological record for this period in the province prior to 1974 was essentially confined to two major town sites of the Roman period (Boiano and Sepino), and two Samnite and Roman religious sanctuaries. For the same reason practically nothing was known about earlier prehistoric settlement. In the rest of Italy the evidence for early man built up by survey and excavation usually goes back at least as far as the Middle Palaeolithic, up to some 100,000 years ago. For Molise, however, there were in 1974 only chance finds of prehistoric flint and stone artifacts in local and national museum collections, most with little or no exact information about provenance. Molise was therefore virtually a blank area on the archaeological map of Italy.