Thursday, April 13, 2017

Have We Got a Temple, Theater, and Gate? Check! New Details Emerge on Roman Urban Planning in Central Italy

Ancient Origins

Archaeologists have discovered a magnificent ancient Roman temple the size of St Paul's Cathedral in central Italy. The discovery took place with the help of a radar device that was attached to the back of a quad bike in order to explore the hidden details of the excavation site.

Getting to Know Falerii Novi
An archaeological team of Cambridge University discovered the remains of the immense Roman temple in central Italy. The ancient temple had lines of columns on three sides covering an area of about 400 ft. (120 meters) long and 200 ft. (60 meters) wide and was unearthed many feet below Falerii Novi, an abandoned walled town in the Tiber River valley, about 50 km (31 miles) north of Rome. The small town was created by the Romans, who resettled the inhabitants of Falerii Veteres in this much less defensible position after a revolt in 241 BC. It is placed on a modest volcanic plateau and housed around 2,500 people during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. The town also gives insight into the Roman Empire’s expanding interchange from other cultures, as Greek-style buildings were also discovered there.

Archaeological area of Falerii Novi, Italy. ( Camminare nella storia blog )

 Radar Device Helped to Explore the Excavation Site
Archaeologists used a radar device attached to the back of a quad bike to explore the excavation site. Martin Millett, professor of classical archaeology at Cambridge University said as International Business Times reports , that the radar helped the team to discover in depth the layout of the town as well as its development and growth. The fascinating antiquities excavated so far are the remains of a theater, a basilica that was probably used for meetings and legal proceedings, as well as a large defensive gate. Experts suggest that some of these finds (such as the gate) will provide historians with valuable information in order to understand a little more about the urban planning in the early days of the Roman period.

Remnants of the theater. Falerii Novi, Italy. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

 The Role of the British School at Rome’s Tiber Valley Project The Roman colony of Falerii Novi was excavated during the 1990s but it was just recently that it was thoroughly examined as part of the Tiber Valley Project , which shows the urbanization of this area by the Romans. The plan produced by the British School at Rome using magnetometry reveals in great detail the subsurface archaeological features of the Republican city, as this technique can detect metals at a much greater depth than basic metal detectors, which have a standard range of about two meters (6.56 ft.).

Photo of the necropolis of "Tre ponti": the "Cavo degli Zucchi" with the Roman Amerina via (road) near Falerii, Italy. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

 According to its official website , the British School at Rome’s Tiber Valley project, studied the changing landscapes of the middle Tiber valley as the hinterland of Rome through two millennia. It drew on the vast amount of archaeological work carried out in this area to examine the impact of the growth, success and transformation of the Imperial city on the history of settlement, economy, and society in the river valley from 1000 BC to AD 1000. The project involved twelve British universities and institutions as well as many Italian scholars.

A plan of of Falerii Novi - taken from ‘Falerii: A New Survey of the Walled Area, 2002.’
Investigations conducted by the Department of Archaeology of the 'University of Southampton. (Comune di Fabrica di Roma/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

Top Image: Entrance gate to Falerii Novi. Source: Comune di Fabrica di Roma/ CC BY SA 3.0

By Theodoros Karasavvas

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