Journal of Ancient Topography

n. XIV 2004


JAT XIV (2004)


Giulio Ciampoltrini, Rural Settlements and Structures on the Lucca Plain from the Late Republic to the Early Empire

Research planned or carried out over twenty years for environmental protection purposes has allowed re-composition of the Roman settlement system on the Lucca plain – both territory which had undergone the process of centuriation and the thin rock spur along the various branches of the River Auser (Serchio) – in considerable topographical and chronological detail.

The setting up of the Roman colony in 180 B.C., with its associated centuriation and fast developing agricultural settlement system, followed a settlement model adapting the classic mid-Republican domus plan to production needs, as can be seen in the case of the Fossa Nera settlement. What emerges is also the progressive installation in farms, from the Augustan to Julio-Claudian periods, of wine making equipment exemplified by a calcatorium and lacus.

It is especially thanks to the preliminary protective investigations – as in the case of Casa del Lupo at Capannori – that information also became available on the appearance of fields and settlement infrastructures, especially both public and private roads.

Armando Cherici, Rural Settlements and Structures in the Territory of Arretium

This paper is based on data from on site surveys and archaeological, historical, archive, place name and hagiographical sources, which, in various ways, can contribute to the reconstruction of the Roman rural landscape in the Arezzo area.

Rural settlement of the Arezzo area in the Roman period initially appears to have maintained the late Etruscan set-up of small scattered centres, becoming thicker on the ground after the setting up of colonies in the Late Republic and Early Empire, especially concentrated in the Val di Chiana: land which has been heavily exploited ever since, to the extent of giving rise to the transformation of its slow flowing streams into marshes, owing to the increase in mud from the newly cultivated fields. 

In the vicinity of Arretium, where natural clay deposits facilitated the situation, the rural structures occasionally included kilns for firing local ware, which was soon, however, to be produced on a more “industrial” scale within the town walls. 

Evidence of the dense settlement of the Arezzo plain is also provided by the close knit praedial place name network, often confirmed by epigraphical discoveries: Alviano, with inscriptions of the gens Helvia; Petrognano, with inscriptions of the gens Petronia; Pecognano (gens Paconia inscriptions); Metelliano (gens Metella inscriptions). Other area place names - Domo, Petriolo, Le Bagnaie / Bagnaia – are confirmed by traces of the rich pars urbana of villas spread over the area. Above ground surveys and landscape interpretation allow considerable summary reconstruction of many of them, on terraced slopes exposed to the sun, protected from cold winds, closet to springs.

Rural Christian churches were to be set up in the pars urbana of many villas in the area, on occasion incorporating considerable Roman remains. Local hagiography records the conversion to Christianity of some of the town’s important families, recalling that the first assembly places for the new faith were in the local villas.

Paolo Campagnoli – Enrico Giorgi, Territorial Arrangement and Agricultural Divisions in Southern Picenum: the territories of Cluana, Pausulae, Urbs Salvia and Asculum

The Chienti and Tronto valleys are still among the most important agricultural areas in the Marche region, the appearance of the landscape being partly rooted in the allotment arrangements of the Roman period. Especially along the middle and lower valley of the River Chienti and its affluent stream named Fiastra, some land divisions connected with the main Roman centres of population in the area, the towns of Urbs Salvia, Pausulae and Cluana can be recognised. In the Tronto valley, on the other hand, several centuriation grids could have been planned in connection with the main urban centre, ancient Asculum. In the latter case, Roman agricultural expansion to the southern dividing line, by way of the Vibrata and Salinello valleys is of particular interest. Generally speaking, these mostly known survivals, though enriched by new information and situated in a wider context, are concrete proof of how Roman land surveyors were able to interpret and utilise the complex contours of the Marche landscape.

Ezio Burri, The Ancient Vuccole Aqueduct in the San Venanzio Gorge (Raiano – L’Aquila. Central Italy). Initial Contribution

The ancient aqueduct known by the name of “delle Vuccole”, on the right hydrographic bank of the River Aterno, in the stretch called the “San Venanzio Gorge”, not far from Raiano (Prov. of L’Aquila), is one of the most representative works of hydraulic engineering in the area, not only due to its length, but, even more so, to its form, deriving from a special excavation technique involving a horizontal sequence of 134 access shafts. Once the required depth had been reached, they were subsequently linked by very short branch channels. The aqueduct was already known in the 18th century and was explored, on more than one occasion, in the 19th, during which time it was partially restructured. At present a total extension of 5,540 m. is known, and well documented both topographically and photographically.

Vittorio Castellani – Claudio Succhiarelli, Casal del Marmo: ancient hydraulic reclamation in  Etruscan-Roman territory

During a geo-environmental study of the Suburbium north west of Rome, a cave draining off meteorological water into tufaceous soil in the volcanic area of the Sabatini hills was noted and thought to be natural. A series of shafts discovered on the surface nearby led to exploration of the cavity, which turned out to be the entrance to an underground conduit more than 500 m long discharging into a ditch further east. The conduit is seriously damaged at the front and better preserved in the centre, but more and more blocked at the end. Two shafts are also blocked by waste. Investigation of the route followed by the conduit showed that digging had started from the bottom of the previously dug out vertical air shafts. The thirteen shafts are at a distance of 39.7 m from each other, an unusual measurement. The tunnel appears to be the continuation of an open channel dug out along about 600 m starting from Insugherata and along the Casale del Marmo to drain about 20 hectares of agricultural land. The structure is similar to others already known in the area of Veii and can thus be linked with an Etruscan reclamation plan previous to the 5th century B.C. and is still usable, despite wear and tear over the centuries.

Francesco di Gennaro, Francesca Dell’Era, Fabiola Fraioli, Jochen Griesbach, Pietro Barbina, Settlement Structures and Traces of Agricultural Use of the Territory of Fidenae in the Roman Period

The area investigated, which took on the Medieval place name of Radiciula and which was split into two the "Radicicoli" estates in the Renaissance period still identifiable in the present day, was under the control of the town of Fidenae in the Early Iron Age and early archaic period, after the Roman conquest in 426 B.C. becoming part of the ager romanus. The Municipium of Fidenae, for which evidence has come up to now from the age of Sulla, then became the administrative centre of a larger territory than that of the archaic town, having incorporated part of the territory of the no longer existing Crustumerium.

The historically and topographical delimited environment is investigated on the basis of archaeological research, most of which is to be found in the book Fidenae by Lorenzo Quilici and Stefania Gigli Quilici, with further reference to ongoing research linked with the town planning project in the hands of the "Porta di Roman" Company.

Diachronic analysis begins with the prehistorical and protohistorical periods, for which the most recent excavation data have provided ample information, proceeding through three long periods for which evidence is available in the area, i.e. Archaic and Early Republican, Mid and Late Republican and Imperial. The first steps are taken for systematic comparison between the survey and subsequent excavation data, with the intention of finding an interpretative key for research results.

Since unusually rich topographical details for the Roman world are available in this sample area, the average size of the villa funda is calculated, by comparison with the situation in other sectors of the Suburbium.

Reconstruction of the area in the Roman period includes study of the road network and agricultural set-up of the territory of the Municipium. Roads have emerged more than any other data from excavations, the network crossing the area having been reconstructed.

The position of all the villas and known rustic buildings confirmed that the settlement pattern was based on small and medium sized properties, and there do not appear to have been any particularly luxurious residential villas, for which there is better evidence in other parts of the Suburbium.

Daniela Monacchi, Forma and Town Planning of Roman Amelia

Conclusion of drawn out exploration below ground level of the historical centre of the Umbrian town of Amelia has led to the discovery of new archaeological evidence, which, added to that already existing, which is briefly referred to in this study, contributes to the reconstruction of the ancient urban forma of the town and identification of its key points.

The urban forma, which has only been reconstructed for the south eastern sector of the town, was organised in insulae measuring 35x87.50 m (= 1 actus x 2 and a half actus), their short sides running along the longitudinal streets of which the stretch within the walls.of the Via Amerina was the main axis.

The town layout dates back to the second half of the 3rd century - mid-2nd. century B.C., coinciding with the Romanisation process. At the same time a gradual urbanisation process began, the first result being the building of an impressive wall circuit, reaching its conclusion in the 1st. century B.C., coinciding with the setting up of the Municipium and, even more visibly, in the Augustan Age, when the theatre was built.

Though the contours of the uplands conditioned the correct placing of the key town sites (forum, theatre and acropolis), they also influenced the use of terracing, one of whose purposes was water conservation.

Owing to difficulties of situating them in an already built up area, the south-eastern area outside the town saw the setting up of the amphitheatre and campus. The building of the Baths in the 2nd. century A.D. over an already existing district was the last large scale urban project.