Journal of Ancient Topography

n. XVII 2007




1 – Michele Dall’Aglio, Town Planning and the Celebration of Power at Susa (near Turin)

The author begins by introducing the geomorphological environment of the Susa valley in the Western Alps, going on to an outline of human settlement and historical events, devoting particular attention to reflections on ancient Segusium (modern Susa) in the last century of the Roman Republic and Early Empire. The importance of the kingdom of Cottius was closely linked with control of the narrow valley crossed by the vital road to Gaul connecting Turin to Lyons by way of the Montgenèvre Pass. This road is briefly described here. It also heavily influenced the town plan of Susa and the location of its main monuments. The town subsequently underwent drastic changes with the building of its wall circuit in the 3rd century A.D. The road to Gaul saw the building of the arch in honour of Augustus in 9/8 B.C. followed by the heroum dedicated to King Cottius, both noteworthy evidence of the peace brought to these Alpine regions and the cultural integration of the Kingdom of Cottius. The needs of political propaganda were also met by two marble statues of armed soldiers, in line with the official style of the reign of Tiberius and which – as suggested by the symbolic representation of the cuirasses – could be of members of the Cottius family, by this time an integral part of the Roman aristocracy.

2 - Giovanna Bonora Mazzoli, Memories of an Ancient Town: the case of Brescia

In the framework of analysis of urban topography of ancient Northern Italian towns the author deals with the plan of ancient Brescia. Changes are illustrated by highlighting continuity, discontinuity, preservation and re-use elements. The area under examination covers the town within the boundary walls during the age of Augustus and subsequent expansions in Late Antiquity. The sources consist of: location planimetries and sites, cartography documents (maps and documentation from the 15th century up to the present), historical studies providing information on local antiquarians and their perception of the evolution of the “forma urbis”. Analysis of available sources has led to verification, in a concluding historical-topographical synthesis, the history, architecture and urbanisation process of the town from the 1st century B.C. to the 7th century A.D.

3 - Sandro Colussa, The Town Plan of Forum Iulii (Cividale del Friuli): updating and problems.

Knowledge of the ancient town plan of Forum Iulii (Cividale del Friuli, Udine) has now greatly increased, as compared with that of the first attempt at reconstruction by Sandro Stucchi in 1951, to the extent of requiring a revision of his conclusions. Errors include the location of the forum area and the hypothesis concerning an early wall circuit cutting across the centre of the Roman town from east to west, thus dividing urban expansion into two phases, one, previous to the Augustan period, to the south, characterised by a regular network, and another more disorderly one, dating from the Empire, to the north within a subsequent wall circuit. The town actually appears to have gone through a single phase of development. New information has now come to light on the inner street system, town gates and private buildings, while the location of the forum is still uncertain. 

4 - Manuela Catarsi, A Roman Town and Christian Places of Worship: the case of Parma

The Roman colony of Parma, as is well known, was founded in 183 B.C., in the territory of the Boii Gauls, along the Via Aemilia, to the right of the river of the same name, its purpose being mostly strategic, controlling the outlets onto the plain of the Apennine valleys of Taro-Ceno, Parma-Baganza and Enza, at the time populated by Ligurian tribes that had still to be conquered by Rome. We know practically nothing of the Republican town destroyed by Mark Antony in 43 B.C., while the town plan of the Augustan era can easily be recognised from air photography in the right-angled area around present day Piazza Garibaldi. Archaeological finds especially came to light during the reign of Duchess Marie-Louise (Napoleon’s second wife) who reigned over the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza after the Congress of Vienna, during rebuilding after bombing in the Second World War and more recent urban development and facilitated the reconstruction of at least an outline of the Roman town. Nevertheless, we still know little about the precise location and appearance of pagan places of worship, though a large scale temple (capitolium?) appears to have been situated along the south west side of the forum.  A church dedicated to St Peter was to be built over it, the first mention dating back to 955. Tombs would also be built beside the church and end up by occupying part of the forum area.  This was not to be, however, the main place of Christian worship in the town. Between the late 5th and early 6th centuries a more important building was erected on the edge of the Roman town, evidence being provided by mosaics unearthed in the present Cathedral Square in 1955. Recent excavations inside the Bishop’s Palace overlooking the square have provided a more precise picture of the relationship with the town walls, Bishop’s Palace and Baptistery and also contradicted the opinion that there was a co-cathedral in Piazzale S. Lorenzo.

5 – Paolo  Garofalo, Housing in Lanuvium and its Surroundings in the Late Empire: archaeological and archive evidence 

Late Antiquity archaeological research has been on the increase in recent years, in part owing to ever more effective use of modern methods and, above all, to a fresh historical approach, at last free of the obsession with decline. Lanuvium, like many towns in Latium Vetus, has a long history of historical and archaeological research. Nevertheless, few descriptions of buildings or materials from the Late Empire or Late Antiquity produced in periods before the mid 20th century are available and little has been done, even recently, to fill in this gap. This article aims to highlight the widespread alterations to the topographical network of Lanuvium in Late Antiquity both in and around the town, on the basis of recent archaeological data and detailed examination of sources and archive material. Most of the buildings examined are private houses bearing clear traces of rebuilding and a number of phases of occupation. Special attention is devoted to the development of housing in the town, in use over a surprisingly long period and, during the 4th century A.D., influenced by the large Late Antique domus in Rome, copying or evoking the relevant architectural styles. 

6 – Luisa Migliorati, Peltuinum: an update

Recent research in the area of the Roman town has concentrated on the area occupied by the theatre so as to unearth the remains of the entire building. This research has foregrounded the complex structure and architectural articulations of a building closely connected with the urban setup of the town centre including a temple with a porticus triplex. Study of the specific topographical situation accompanied by geological stratification exposing the buildings on the edge of the plateau to constant risk and the observation of a number of indications of seismic stress allowed clarification of the reasons behind frequent changes of approach during building and contributed to discussion of the problematic theatre-temple relationship.

7  - Francesco Tomasello, The Appearance of Catania in the Roman Empire

Catania, despite the devastating events of the second half of the 17th century, first the torrent of lava which, in 1663, surrounded the western and southern edges of the city, then the earthquake which, in 1693, brought about a new urban plan after the ruins had been swept away, is gradually unearthing traces of its ancient past. The impressive remains of the Roman Imperial period, unfortunately already misunderstood in the 18th century, and new stratigraphical data now allow clearer analysis of the urban setup and a more acceptable picture of the ancient town, occasionally referred to by the ancient sources. The urban network can be seen to lie on two natural terraces with the edges picked out by a series of public infrastructures, converging on the harbour area by the River Amenano. The Roman houses flanking the long insulae follow, in a somewhat disorderly fashion, the line up of two previous pre-Roman networks and, especially as of the 2nd century A.D., show signs of ever greater prosperity. Unfortunately there is no evidence of places of worship and burial grounds only display partial relationships of the centre with its hinterland. Ausonius tells us that Catania, in the 4th century, still continued to be one of the most splendid Roman towns, as far as urban living standards achieved and perpetuated were concerned.  

8 - Eduard Shehi, A Contribution to the Topography of Dyrrachium (3rd century B.C. – 4th century A.D.)

Up to now understanding of the town plan of Dyrrachium has only been based on a small number of important monuments and a few hypotheses concerning them. This article deals with the description of the monuments which came to light in the period 1950-1990 (only the most important data are mentioned here), as well as new evidence from the excavations carried out in the period 2001-2005 (described in greater detail), in an attempt to clarify the urban development of Dyrrachium. Excavations have been split up into three groups: I, II e III in the Roman period (from 229 B.C. to 345 A.D.). For each period we have provided information on characteristic building techniques and materials. The conclusions section is an attempt at re-creation of the ancient town plan and at understanding the street network (here only along the north-south axis). 

9 - Dario Rose, The Polygonal Wall of the Ara della Turchetta at S. Anatolia (RI): a stratigraphical reading. 

This study is an initial attempt at stratigraphical reading of a polygonal terrace wall. The monument is the Ara della Turchetta at S. Anatolia (Rieti) in the Cicolano area, identified by some scholars with the oracular shrine to Mars of Tiora Matiene described by Dionysius  (Dion. Hal. Antiq. rom. I, 14). After a necessary explanation of classification and terminology, the study attempts to clarify the building technique, organization of the building site and workmen involved in the realization of this  “opus polygonum” monument.