Journal of Ancient Topography

n. XII 2002


JAT XII (2002)


  1. F.W. WALBANK, The Via Egnatia: its role in Roman strategy

This article, originally a lecture delivered to the Howard Gilman International Conference on 'Crossing the Pindus and the Apennines', organized from Tel Aviv University in September 1998, deals with the oriinal scope of the Via Egnatia, its organization and its role in Roman warfare. After discussing earlier routes and movements across Pindus and early second century B.C. Roman fighting east of the Adriatic, it demonstrates that two Roman milestones recently discovered along the road support the view that the Via Egnatia was built by a proconsul, Cn. Egnatius, shortly after 146 B.C. and, from the outset, extended as far as the River Hebrus. A new analysis and interpretation of the evidence for the road in Book 34 of Polybius and Book 7 of Strabo is shown to confirm this attribution. After discussing the importance of the road in the late second century and early first century fighting against the barbarian peoples living to the north and east of Macedonia and in the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, the article goes on to show that, following the setting up of the province of Illyricum and the extension of Roman power to the Danube in the early empire, the military role of the Via Egnatia ceased, to be resumed only during later civil wars. The article concludes with a discussion of the imperial milestones found along the road and an account of Aelius Aristides' winter journey to Rome from his home in Asia Minor, which reveals the decay into which the Via Egnatia had fallen by the midsecond century A.D.

C. PELFER, The Via Aurelia line in the area of Tarquinia: new hypotheses from image processing

The layout of the Roman Via Aurelia over the coastal plain of Tarquinia, between the Rivers Mi

gnone and Marta, was reconstructed by archaeologists at the Institute of Ancient Topography in Rome in 1968. On an air photo taken in September 1954 they found a straight line, parallel to the coast between the Rivers Mignone and Marta, connecting the remains of two Roman bridges on the two river banks. The same photo also revealed two ancient roads, probably of Etruscan origin, that linked historical Tarquinia with the nzaritimae stationes of Rapinium and Graviscae.

The main road corresponding to the above mentioned line, evidence for which is provided by archaeological finds during field surveys, has been assigned to the more recent Via Aurelia Nova, attributed to Lucius Aurelius Cotta, consul in 125119 B.C. At the end of the XIX century; on the basis of his field survey for the archaeological map of South Etruria, A.Pasqui and A.Cozza argued that the Via Aurelia, after Poggio della Birba, diverged to the left, along Le Saline, in the direction of Graviscae, returning to the previous direction after Casal Procoio. This hypothesis was put forward again by D.Anziani (1913) and M.Lopès Pegna (in the 1950s). G.M.De Rossi (Institute of Ancient Topography Rome, 1968), suggested, following the historical maps and the Itinerari um Maritimum, the existence of an Aurelia Vetus (the older layout, corresponding to the most ancient colonization along the southern Etrunan coast), attributed to Gaius Aurelius Cotta (censor in 241 B.C.), along the coast, over the coastal dunes and the threestationes maritimae of Rapinium, Graviscae, and Maltanum.

The 1954 air photo was processed by the image processing toolbox of the MATLAB package (rei. 4.2), searching for weak, latent traces on the original image. This analysis permitted enhancement of a latent trace going from Le Saline up to Graviscae, in the coastal area between Poggio della Birba, Saline di Tarquinia, Porto Clementino and Casaletto delle Lance. The latent trace could confirm the hypothesis of a deviation of the Via Aurelia between Poggio della Birba and Graviscae, as was suggested by Pasqui. We suggest a possible identification of this pattern with a deviation of the older Aurelia Vetus. This interpretation could be confirmed by

fresent information on and knowlcdge of che ayout of the Via Aurelia Vetus and Nova in other coastal areas in Latium and the coast of northern Etruria. Digital analysis of the air photo did not show any line that could confirm the hypothesis of De Rossi about a coastal Via Aurelia Vetus in the Tarquinia area.

E. HosThrrER  J. R. BRANDT, Rome. A New Mo

numental Building on the NE Slope of the Palatine Hill

Three discreet architectural features incorporated into a second and third century AD Roman complex on the northeast slope of the Palatine Hill appear to be the fragmentary remains of a monumental, twostoried building of the late Republic or earliest empire. The surviving fragments are described, possible partial reconstructions are proposed on the basis of comparanda and on proportional models of construction, and the building is considered in the archaeological and architectural context of the northeast corner of the Palatine Hill. Running northsouth near the base of the hill, the building might explain the marked difference in elevation, still visible today, between the upper and lower slope, and allows for a reevaluation of the appearance ofthis area in antiquity.

G. UGGERI, The Circumnavigation (Periplous) of Crete in the Stadiasmus Mans Magni

The general problems posed by the text of the Scadiasmus Mans Magni and its dating are initially discussed. The Greek manuscript in Madrid preserves three parts of a Roman pilot's book, concerning the coast of Africa between Alexandria and Utica (in Tunisia); the SyrianAnatolian coast between Carne in Phoenicia and Miletus and the circumnavigations of the islands of Cyprus and Crete. On the basis of detailed internal analysis, a date between 5060 A.D. is suggested. Subsequently the circumnavigation of the island of Crete is examined and three kinds of port are fore rounded. limen, the safe closed harbour par excellence, hormos, a harbour often with a beach onto which boats could be hauled if required and the hyphormos, a true safe harbour usually backed up by a promontory.

Settlement and Rural Structures in Roman Italy

M. CATARSI, Roman Villas in Emilia

Up to about thirty years ago the only example of a Roman villa known in the EmiliaRomagna region was the one at Russi, unearthed at a depth of 11 m. in the years 193839 near Ravenna on the edge of the centuniated land in the territory of Faenza. It was extensively excavated between 1953 and 1971 and ended up by becoming the paradigmatic model for all the settlements in the refion and only recently has increased rescarch al~?wcd us to see how varied and complex the situation in the region actually was. Although the real numerical nature of the ancient population, from the archaeological point of view, is still unknown, it is clear that population increases after successive colonial foundations affected the countryside and it is very probable that the rural population was spread, for safety reasons and ease of communication in the early stages, over the centuriated areas near to towns.

It was only with advances in land reclamation and population increases that lower lyin areas and those on lower hill slopes were cultivated. Apart from centuriated areas, people began to settle along the major roads and rivers.

In the Modena area, for example, it has been argued that as many as 144 of the 200 known sites were already occupied in the Republic. Among the few entirely excavated 2nd  1st century B.C. sites the one that appears to follow most closely the settlement patterns to be found in Varro is without doubt that at Roncolungo di Sivizzano (Fornovo Taro Province of Parma) which grew up on the transApennine route connecting the colonies of Parma and Luni and was worked by slave labour belonging to the gens Cassia, with its various types of production.

Most of the known settlements, however, appear to date from the early Empire. Ground surveys have shown how they were usually arranged at the centre of the centuriation grids or in the corners opposite the centuria so as to exploit the land best and, at the same time, benefit from communication facilities offered by crossroads. 'Within this close land occupation, settlements appear to be differentiated more by structural than construction typologies, which are rather poor even in buildings which, with their mosaic floors, appear to be somewhat prestigious. Though there was great variation due to the character of the sites and needs of owners, the structure of the villas generally followed the symmetry characteristic of all Roman architecture. Though there are many settlements with residential areas, like the above mentioned villa at Russi, most have a functional structure keyed to exploitation of the surrounding land.

In long lasting groups of buildings, substantial structural modifications generally took place during the 2nd century A.D., whcn several farms were joined together under the same ownership, of which, in the case of the Veleia area, there is very important epigraphic evidence in the form of the Trajan era Tabula alimentaria (112 A.D.). Despite continuous Imperial measures to contain the crisis, reduction of population and economic decline could not be stopped and, in the 3rd century AD., this led to partial abandonment of the countryside. Despite partial improvement in Late Antiquity, brought about by production specialisation and the creation of a busy commercial circuit, in the early Middle Ages the phenomenon could not be prevented and this led to the disappearance of the Roman world and the villa, its most typical characteristic.


ments and Structures in the agri Pisanus and Volaterranus

The territories studied, which, in Roman ti

mes, belonged to the towns of Pisae and Volater

rae, are bordered by the Versilia coastal area and the River Cecina, to the east the border being Mount Pisano and the Valdera Valley. The data discussed are the result of multidisciplinary research ( geomorphological, archaeotopographical investigations, excavations, underwater archaeology, bioarchaeological investigations, literary, epigraphical, archive, placename, remotesensing research etc.)

An outline of settlement dynamics, rural structures, infra structures, manufacture and trade activities is provided diachronically from the Romanisation period to Late Antiquity. Some examples of rural site records in the electronic format of the Tuscan Region Archaeological Map (Provinces of Pisa and Livorno) are also presented.

M. P. Muzziou  A. DE ME0  G. ESPA  S. ESPA

A. PIFFERI  U. Ricci, Research Developments on Rural Settlement and Territorial Layout in Sabina Tiberina

In the context of research on the area of the mid Tiber Valley, a fresh investigation, in the light of new research, of some aspects of rural settlement in southern Sabine territory by the River Tiber is presented. In particular, a system of squares of 50 iugeTa, connected with quaestorial sales in the area of Cures Sabini, is considered in its development and partial decline, in connection with the evolution of settlement types. A Geographical Information Systems (G.LS.) method was applied. The applications were used for some spatial statistics analyses for the study of some particularly significant areas historically (Eretum, Magliano Sabina, Cures, etc.).

Here we present thematic maps of various levels, the result of G.I.S. analysis and spatial statistics studies, which, together make up a set of additional information which can make important contributions to still open historical problems.

D. Rose, Productive Potential and Settlement Patterns in the Upper Salto Valley (Cicolano)

From the protohistorical age, the Salto valley provided the connecting route between the valley around Rieti and the Fucino. The present study relates to the area that is now administratively included in Borgorose (Rieti) and Magliano dei Marsi (L'Aquila). This paper presents the first data resulting from a larger research project investigating the productive potential and settlement patterns and models of this territory in ancient times. The analysis both of the environmental data and, diachronically, of the written sources available, shows the strength of the economy based on an agricultural and pastoral system. The recent survey revealed two open settlement sites, datable to the preRoman era, located in the valleys. For the Roman age, the discovery of some structures on a terrace built of cyclopean walls, as well as the rereading of other remains already known, permits us to develop an image of this area: in addition to the continuous, although somewhat altered, valleysettlements, the new production system based on the villa spread over the valleys and plateaus.

E. F. CASTAGNINO BERLINGHIERI, Archaeological Field Surveys in the Salso and the Brajemi River Valleys (Sicily): New Data

Surveys carried out in the spring of 2001, in the Salso and Brajemi River valleys, led to identification of 33 Topographic Units (TU) and 5 Sporadic Finds Areas (SF). Direct on the spot surveys produced a structured series of new data, which contributed to identification of evidence of human presence from prehistoric to medieval times. Study of the area within the boundaries of the territory administered by the modern towns of Caltanissetta, Pietraperzia, Barrafranca and Mazz.arino, included collection and analysis of the features required for an archaeological map.

Ground surveys covered the territory around the Brajemi Valley. Nevertheless, only c.70% of the area could be covered, owing to the fact that observation was limited by thick spontaneous vegetation. The new data discussed in this paper mainly concern the protohistoric phase.

The presence of a majority of negative remains (dugout tombs, votive holes, quarries and rock cuts) can be explained by geomorphological analysis of the ground. It was possible to ascertain that the Brajemi Valley, especially on its northern side, is extremely degradable, because of the poor compactness of the soil, in general alluvial deposits, in the midupper areas the soil being shifted by rain water thus cancelling all traces of human presence or modifying the original position of loose objects, washing them down to the bottom of the valley (Table 1). The better preserved sites date from protohistoric times, while mostly positive topograiphical units (elevations, walis, collapsed roof coverings) date from Greek, Roman and even Medieval periods. Of the latter only foundations are partially visible and there are also areas of scattered pottery finds (Table 2).

As can be noted in Table 2 the protohistoric sites are mostly burial grounds and principally belong to the Castelluccio e di Thapsos facies. The most common are small artificial cave rock cut tombs with one or more pseudocircular chambers occasionally with a domed ceiling of the chobid type (Table 3). The architectural structure has a rectangular opening with perimeter groove for fitting the stone slab shutting off the tomb, as i$ the case with the example from the Rocche Ciavola necropolis (TU 17) with entrance holes; a dromos type entrance is rare. In some cases, e.g. TU I and TU38 (Figs.3.C; 3.G), tombs are dug out of the chalkylimestone ridge at different level bends. In TU I in particular, there are "oven" type tombs oval in shape with the main axis parallel to the entrance axis and oval vault profile. In TU 38 at Ratumemi we find three levels of artificial caves linked by walkways carved out of the rock. In some cases the protohistoric artificial caves were enlarged in the Middle Ages and equipped with domestic fittings such as niches for lamps and long benches along the walls. On average these artificial caves were c. 56 m. wide, c. 3 m. deep and 1.701.90 m. high at the highest point. The case of TU 12 at the na d'Ascari site appears to be differentiated f121 the practice of use of already existing artificial caves; in this case the Medieval rock dwelling appears to have been created ex novo in a rocky ridge overlooking a large group of hills. Only foundations remain of walls,

a sEecial case being the megalithic structures such as TU 36 at Gallitano, where the Brajemi meets the Salso, where a c. 50m.line (average height e. 5 m.) consists of large limestone blocks. A certain amount of evidence led to the hypothesis that it could have been a river landing stage.

The presence of sites characterised by their high up position is an interesting phenomenon in the protohistoric Brajemi Valley and more generally in the southern Himera arca. This type of choice appears to have been dictated by strategic reasons, for control over the surrounding territory. Most of the sites do not seem to have been particularly worried about defensive structures, as was the case, on the contrary, along the coast (Thapsos, for example) and their strong position dominating incoming routes, as is the case with Cozzo Sbenta and Cozzo Cialandria, demonstrates their controlling role. Nevertheless variation in topographical position and the presence or absence of defensive features could suggest human presence on these sites during different phases of the Bronze Age.

The new results presented here, considered within the context of cultural interaction of prowhistoric social groups in the Brajemi Valley and, more generally the Salso area show clear Aegean influence both in imported pottery and local production on the basis of decorative and shape imitation and in architecture with the introduction of tholos covering, following Mycenacan funerary buildings.

Contributions to the History of Topography

G. FAzzINI, The 400th Anniversary of the Birth of Athanasius Kircher

This contribution is a tribute to Father Kircher (Geisa a. d. Ulster 1602Rome 1680), who, after his early years spent studying and specializing in his native Germany, went to Rome where he taught mathematics for eight years at the Jesuit Collegio Romano, from 1638 to 1646. Subsequently, he decided to give up teaching, preferring to devote himself wholly to his studies and research.

Kircher was the most cultured polymath of his times and excelled in every branch of the knowledge of the seventeenth century. In particular, he was an eminent forerunner in the field of geographical and topographical research and, from one standpoint, his conclusions are still of remarkable importance for the history of topography. Among the conspicuous number of works he edited, his geographical and topographical interests were more to the fore in Mundus Subtetraneus... (Amsterdam 1665), Historia EustachioMarana... (Rome 1665) and, last but not least, Latium... (Rome 1669; Amsterdam 1671). It was chiefly in this last work that Kirchcr showed particular ability in investigating and describing places and towns, monuments, inscriptions, coins, using an approach that can still be considered modem: his research was so valuable, partly because he sometimes wrote about archeological ruins which no longer exist, so that his statements are of enormous importance for us.

Nowadays, he is famous for his studies in many fields, even considering the many mistakes he made and the considerable misunderstandings he could not avoid, but, paradoxically, he is not sufficiently remembered for his topographical studies, where his brilliant, investigating mind excelled admirably, to the point that he can well be taken as a model for his modern descendents.

Notes and Discussions

G. FRATIANNI, Terventum (Samnium). An Unpublished Inscription Concerning a Municipal Magistrate

Topographical research in Samnium, in the Trinius valley, in the area of the rnunicipium of Terventum (Trivento, Province of Campobasso) led to the discovery of a Latin inscription at Piano della Baronessa. The limestone slab bears an epitaph dedicated by M. Agrius Proculus of the Voitinta tribe, and Tullia Maevia Prisca to their son M. Agrius Proculus, who held various public offices and was the patron of a municipium, probably Terventum. The person involved is connected with other evidence of the gens Agria from the Terventum area and an inscription to be found at Trivento is newly examined, as is another, very fragmentary one from Schiavi d'Abruzzo (now at the Museum in Vasto).

Piano della Baronessa is well known for other finds and its interest for the local road network is clarified, since it was at a halfway stage along the road connecting Terventum with the ancient route followed by the CelanoFoggia sheep track.