Journal of Ancient Topography

n. VI 1996


JAT VI (1996)



An obituary of Nereo Alfieri, who was born in Loreto in 1914 and died in Ferrara in December 1995. In 1936,  he began investigating the ancient typography of the Marche region and published studies on the towns of Helvia Ricina, Ancona, Sena Gallica, Fanum Fortunae and Cluana. He also studied road systems, battlefields, centuriation and rural settlements. In 1950 he began excavating the Etruscan necropolis of Spina and reconstructed the ancient environment of the lower Po valley and the River Po area. After being appointed professor of ancient topography at the University of Bologna in 1963, he investigated the ancient roads of Cisalpine Gaul and the Apennines, and topographical problems of Picenum with a new approach to medieval archaeology and topography and considerations on the dynamics of settlement between the ancient and early medieval periods. He worked out a topographical research methodology based on the interpretation of written sources in a close relationship with contemporary landscape reconstruction so as to situate historical phenomena in context.


The Via Domitia was the first Roman road in Gaul following the trade route connecting Iron Age oppida. It was planned by Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus in c. 120 B.C.. It ran from Susa across Monginevro (Alpis Cottia) reaching the Rhône after about 200 miles. After the foundation of the colony of Narbo Martius (Narbonne) the road continued as far as the Pyrenees, along straight lines far from the coast, which can be reconstructed on the basis of air photography and which still exist in places and are marked by milestones dating from the time of the original builder up to Julian the Apostate. Domitius founded Forum Domitii a trading post between the Rhone and Narbo. There are several bridges, dating especially from the time of Augustus. The Pyrenees were crossed along the coast or in the interior over Clusurae (Cluses).

STEFANO FRANCOCCI - DARIO ROSE, The ancient Via Ciminia in Etruria

The research presented in this paper is based on data from surveys carried out between the spring of 1993 and the spring of 1996. A study of the road in question seemed opportune in view of the poor archaeological evidence still present, as compared with the material examined by the British School of Rome in the 1950s. Further discussion of the various interpretations of the route followed in those studies that have marginally treated it also seemed necessary. Intensive urbanization, starting in the mid 1960s, and even more, the cultivation of hazel nut trees, which made slope levelling necessary, have radically altered the landscape, saving few, though fundamental, traces of the road route. These traces were foregrounded by the large scale chosen for the maps prepared. The Via Ciminia probably followed an already existing road route connecting the Ager Faliscus with inland Etruria. Its existence is known from a series of inscriptions of curatores viarum dating from the Flavian age. The dating is confirmed by study of the Poggio Cavaliere section, the only surviving one today, showing a paving width of 4.10 m. In Roman times the road was linked to a secondary network for trade in locally produced cereals, oil and wine. This appears to be confirmed by the presence of country villas along the route dating from the late Republic onwards. The Via Ciminia was a side road of the Via Cassia, which leaving Sutri, passed along the east side of Lake Vico (called Lake Cimino until the 18th. century) joining the latter near Aquae Passeris just to the north of Viterbo. Traces of the road are still present in the small town, from which it led NW, so as to make use of the Fosso dci Condotti slowly turning N/NE as far as the volcanic crater. From the summit of Poggio Cavaliere, once a crossroads and residential centre, the Via Ciminia descended to the lake basin and then over the cone of Mount Venere ran up as far as Osteria della Montagna. The ascent of the north side of the crater was approximately 2 km with a 1:13 gradient. There is a rock inscription as well as some hypogean tombs along this part of the route. At this point the long NW descent began towards the plain of Viterbo, passing first Fosso della Porchetta anq then Fosso Roncone. After crossing the city of Viterbo the road passed through the Bacucco area which, like its surroundings, had important thermal characteristics and can be identified with the Aquae Passeris mansio of the Tabula Peutingeriana. It is likely that the road was little used and then abandoned after the Roman period, as is the case with the majority of Roman roads. Between the 11th. and 13th. centuries it flourished anew, with the development of the city of Viterbo and of Vico and Ronciglione, and finally with the first Jubilee of 1300 it became an alternative to the Via Cassia for traffic towards Rome.

DANIELA MONACCHI, The Roman baths at Amelia

The cellars of the 16th. century Palazzo Farrattini in the south west area of Amelia partially incorporate a series of earlier constructions, which also give onto the street of the same name. They belong to the Roman baths dating from thc second half of the 2nd. century A.D. The surviving rooms, three of which are vaulted and two of which have mosaic floors are built of brick and cement. The purpose of only two rooms has been identified: a cistern and frigidarium (the room with an apsidal ground plan). The construction of the baths, evidently supplied with water by two preexisting large cisterns and drainage ducts belongs to the final stage of the planning of Amelia replacing earlier buildings as part of area upgrading.   ANGELA SETIEMBRINI, Ancient settlement in tbe area between Sybaris and Siris (arcbaeological map F°. 222 IV)   This article is a historical-topographical study of the territory in the IV square of sheet 222 of the Istituto Geografico Militare map (Amendolara, Albidona, Trebisacce). In addition to previous studies, new information from on site investigations, photo interpretation and study of new data is presented. T'he ground work was carried out in 1993 and unearthed some interesting new sites (Piano degli Schiavi, Tammone, Pezza di Rago, Pietera del Castello), also documentino some archaeological data which have now been destroyed. For the first time an archaeological map from prehistorical to Roman Empire periods has been drawn up. Although not complete, consideration was given to the relationship between settlement choices and landscape characteristics. The hilly coastal area, between the plains of Sybaris and Siris, is characterized by sheer drops, ravines and gorges. There are few traces of the Neolithic period (a small quantity of stone weapons, rough pottery near the caves of Belladonna and Mezzocapo and other stone fragments). The protohistorical period, from the mid and late Bronze Ages presents some carefully chosen settlements, each bordered by two streams, for defence and exploitation of natural resources. The smaller sites decline in the late Bronze Age, the larger ones (Broglio and Rione Vecchio) last until the early Iron Age. These established contact with the Mycenaeans up to the 11 th. century B.C. and with the Mediterranean from the 9th. century. Life improved owing to progress in crafts and trade. The final part of the Bronze Age appears to have seen a passage from a more scattered to more concentrated settlement pattern. The situation was disturbed by Greek colonization. After the foundation of Sybaris, the above mentioned sites at Broglio and Rione Vecchio were abandoned and the new colony became the focal point. No new centres were established between the fall of Sybaris and the foundation of Thurii. The classical period saw scattered settlement with burial sites near homes. After the foundation of Thurii a settlement for the exploitation of clay was set up at Vitraro (Trebisacce). Scattered settlement continued during the Hellenistic period along rivers. With the exception of the Roseto area there appears to have been continuity of settlement up to the beginning of the 3rd. century B.C. Scattered settlement began again from the 2nd. century B.C on fertile and panoramic sites. Roseto had an aqueduct, Amendolara (probably the statio ad Vicesimttm mentioned in the Itinerarium Antonini) an aqueduct and baths. The road system from protohistoric times followed the coast, in places leading into the hinterland.

GIOVANNI UGGERI, Lucas Holstenius and Francesco Saverio Cavallari

On the occasion of the 4th. centenary of the birth of the great geographer Lucas Holste (Hamburg 1596-Rome 1661) a brief bio-bibliographical outline is provided. He was the author of the Geographi Graeci Minores corpus and a treatise called De viis publicis et antiquitatibus Agri Suburbicarii, both unpublished, while his additions and corrections to Philippus Cluverius' Italia Antiqua were published posthumously. His detailed surveys of the Consular roads around Rome and work on the maps in the Vatican are also recalled. On the occasion of the centenary of the death of Francesco Saverio Cavallari (Palermo 1809-96) a brief bio-bibliographical outline is provided, foregrounding his important contribution to the knowledge of the ancient and medieval monuments of Sicily with his accurate drawings for the works by Serradifalco, Schultz and Sartorius. Attention is also drawn to his contribution to archaeology and topography consisting of explorations and excavations, which were constantly accompanied by precise survey work, consolidation, restoration and reconstruction, This tireless worker, designer and later photographer was mainly concerned with the rediscovery of Selinunte and Syracuse.

MARIA PIA MUZZIOLI, The substructure of the Appian Way near Ariccia: Luigi Canina and Virginio Vespignani

Virginio Vespignani's survey of the Appian Way viaduct at Ariccia (Monumenti dell'Istituto, 1837, tav. XXXIX) is its only complete analytical record. The Lancini manuscripts (113/13) contain some sheets entitled 'Brief notes on the plate to be published in the Monumenti for the year 1837', which are in Vespignani's hand. These were used by L. Canina for his commentary on the plate, published in the Annali dell'Istituto 1837.

ANTONIO COLICELLI, Roman roads in Bruttii between the Rivers Angitola and Mesima (Itinerarium Antonini 105-106; 111).

The author provides a new hypothesis on the Roman road network in the area of the Bruttii between the Rivers Angitola and Mesima in the modern province of Vibo Valentia. Reconstructing the route is made difficult by the lack of archaeological and epigraphical evidence of the road surface and by two controversial passages in the Itinerarium Antonini. On the basis of the Itinerarium and especially on that of a stereoscopic analysis of air photographs analysed digitally, the author argues that there were two different routes, despite recent doubts about this duplication due to their similarity. He argues that the via ab Regio ad Capuam after the Annicia statio split into two: the first passing through the important centre of Valentia parallel to  the coast and nearer to it, and the second bypassing the centre though parallel and close to it, but further inland. The two branches joined up near Mileto, from where the road continued towards the River Mesima. The author also deals with the problem of the localization of the Nicotera statio, on the basis of known archaeological data.

GRAZIELLA PIPITÒ, The Via Valeria in northern Sicily

A survey was carried out by the author of thc bridges of the Via Valeria joining Cape Peloro with Lilybaeum along the northern coast of Sicily. From east to west he deals with: the Roman bridge at Torrenova with a brick arch on limestone piers with adjacent storehouse; the bridge over the River Rosmarino, now nothing more than a head stuck to the rock; another one 3 km. distant stili preserves the two side ramps connected to the rock. There are considerable remains of the Old Bridge at Caronia, with three arches, the two side ones surviving. The Tusa bridge near Riggieri has two unequal arches. The Pollina bridge near Finale, which originally had seven arches, still has one as well as traces of other piers. No traces remain of the Great Bridge of Buonfornello over the North Himera river, mentioned by V.M. Amico in the 18th. century. 

MARCO AGOSTINO AMUCANO, A new look at Roman roads between Siniscola and Orosei (Nuoro - Sardinia)

The purpose of this paper is to take a new look at the ancient road system of the "Baronie" region of Sardinia, which still lacks significant on site investigation and requires re-examination of most of the information still uncritically included in bibliographies. The main road of the area is that called a Portu Tibulas Caralis in the Itinerarium Antonini, several stations and even some of the route of which are still insufficiently known. This paper discusses the possible location of the two stations called Portus Luquidonis and Forum Carisi and the connecting road section. Apart from new information gained during on site surveys, some hitherto ignored milestones (without inscriptions) are presented, one of which was found at Chilìvri near Ortisei and provides a more probable hypothesis on the exact location of the route followed by the last part of the road under consideration along the valley of the River Cedrino. Consideration has also been given to the hypothesis of an initial section of a necessary diverticulum which would have crossed Mount Albo starting from a Portu Tibulas Caralis in the direction of the inaccessibile hinterland, connecting with the other Roman road called Alio itinere ab Ulbia Caralis by the Itinerarium.