Aeoliae insulae, the volcanic Aeolian islands, 40 km. (25 mi.) north-east of Sicily, had a flourishing neolithic culture based on the obsidian industry and well represented in the Diana plain and Castello (Lipari), a natural fortress with a succession of neolithic, bronze age, Greek, and Roman settlements. The islands took full commercial advantage of their position between east and west in the early bronze age, when the local Capo Graziano culture has been equated with the Aeolians of Greek legend and imported Mycenaean pottery provides the first absolute dates in the prehistory of western Europe. Aegean contact continued in the middle bronze age (Milazzese culture): contact with the peninsular *Apennine culture recalls the Liparus legend (Diod. Sic. 5. 7) and gave rise to the late bronze age–early iron age *Ausonian culture, with its parallels at Milazzo for the proto-*Villanovan urnfields of the mainland. The Cnidian–Rhodian colony of Lipara was founded in 580–576 bce, and conquered in 252 by Rome; Lipari in particular provides much valuable information about provincial life and death in Greek and Roman times.