The paper presents results of a detailed study of the behaviour of natural normally consolidated clays from the archaeological site of Sibari, Southern Italy. These are examined within a new general framework for the behaviour of clays, features of which are confirmed by the Sibari data. The framework includes both natural and reconstituted clays, based on the premise that basic mechanisms of deformation are common to clays of different structure. Differences in behaviour between different claps are shown to result from differences in nature and structure, while sensitivity is demonstrated to be the parameter which quantifies the effects of structure. The Sibari clays are shown to have a layered structure which causes their differences in behaviour with respect to the same soils when reconstituted. Normalisation for sensitivity is shown to eliminate these differences. Based on the understanding of the compression behaviour of the soils, the history of the surface settlement has been reconstructed.
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