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Excavation

  • Capestrano
  • Collelungo
  • Aufinum
  • Italy
  • Abruzzo
  • Province of L'Aquila
  • Capestrano

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Summary (English)

  • The town

    The town was surrounded by various defensive and walls and substructures, which presented at least two phases of use, one datable to the Hellenistic-Roman phase, while the second dated to the late medieval period. On the hill summit, which functioned as the acropolis, two temples were excavated, “Temple A” and “Temple B”, attributable to a period between the 3rd and 1st centuries B.C. Very little of the first temple (A) was preserved, mainly the podium cut directly into the hill’s rocky substratum. The second temple (B), whose excavation continues, is very interesting both for the typology of the materials and for the later phases of the area’s reuse, with early medieval burials reusing the stone from the temple. Numerous fragments of coloured painted wall plaster, with a wave decoration, also attested in Campania and the territory of Taranto, were present.

    The area of the so-called huts, situated immediately west of temple B (42°16’53.23’’N – 13°46’18.34’’ and 395/400 m a.s.l) was investigated. The main hut, which was explored in previous years, presented an ‘official’ entrance on the north-west front, with larger timber posts, perhaps part of a rudimental portico divided into three parts protecting the hut entrance from bad weather. The construction technique seemed to date to the transition between the 5th and 4th century B.C., with the use of a supporting framework of oak posts, a footing of cobblestones and earth and pisé walls. It is difficult to be certain about the type of roof, which must have had a timber frame probably with a covering of plant material as no tiles were found. A small side entrance, in the eastern long side, led directly to a functional area dedicated to storage and food production, given the presence of a large pit for storing dry foodstuffs or water, and a millstone and a mortaria cut directly in the bedrock, together with small pits containing seeds and grains, directly outside the hut. The seeds and materials recovered by floatation of the pit fills are now being analysed.

    The other structures found have not been completely excavated, therefore it is difficult to reconstruct their plan, but the new trenches opened in 2016 have already exposed areas of great interest, with installations for milling and pressing cut directly into the rock, situated to the south and west of the hut. Therefore, it is plausible that the large structure was at the centre of work and storage areas, which must have belonged to the structure and were pertinent to local agricultural productions and linked to stock-raising in the zone.
    Another interesting monument is the so-called theatre or building for meetings, which abuts the hill slope. The tiers were constituted by alternating steps of two different heights, for the seat and footrest.

    During the 2015/2016 excavations on the hill summit, apsidal structures were uncovered to the north and north-east of Temple B, which seem to relate to buildings datable to between the 5th/7th and 9th/11th centuries. The first finds seem to suggest that they were two distinct structures, perhaps Christian cult buildings, attesting continuity of use of the pagan cult area of Temple B. The construction of the two buildings involved the robbing of Temple B and the reuse of a large amount of its architectural materials.

    More specifically, the 2015 and 2016 excavations investigated the NE-1, 2 and 3 NO-2, and SE-2 sectors. The activities in sector NE-1 were limited to the identification and excavation of a well/pit US 2035 and the excavation of tombs α and β (UUSS -2046, -2048), both containing infant burials and in some way connected to church n. 1. The only burial containing grave goods of a certain importance was tomb β in which the remains were accompanied by a small flat-based amphoriskos and an bronze earring, currently being studied but seemingly datable to the 5th-6th century A.D.

    The well/pit was about 110 cm in diameter and 140 cm deep. It appeared to be lined with semi-worked stone blocks in a dry-stone construction. No material was found in the fill that provided evidence for the date or function of this structure.
    In sector NE-2 the excavation of the rock-cut silo/cistern US -2015 was completed. Unfortunately, no materials emerged that were of any use regarding its date or function.
    The excavation of sector NE-3 was also completed. A posthole reinforced with stones and strong mortar was uncovered. An iron tool, identified as a large pointed chisel, the type for working stone or marble, was found in the same area. The layers removed in this zone relate to the construction and use of church n. 1.

    The beginning of excavations in sector NW-2 revealed a second apse USM 2050 facing east. Work continued on this structure, denominated church n. 2, in 2016 with the opening of the apse area, which was only preserved at foundation level. A floor surface emerged resting directly on a make up of smoothed lime. There was also a large hole, perhaps another silo or pit.
    For the moment, it is difficult to understand the chronology of this second apsidal structure. Only the coming excavation campaigns will provide further evidence for understanding its plan and function. The floor surface inside the apse seemed to relate to this structure’s use. The silo or pit was perhaps opportunistic, but the absence of materials inside it provided no dating evidence that could confirm its belonging to church n. 2 or earlier phases.

    Prior to further excavations, the occupation phases have been divided as follows.
    Phase one: First permanent occupation of the area; probably structures in perishable material of which rock-cut post holes remain. These structures appear comparable to those uncovered in the area of the so-called huts, a short distance from Temple B.
    Date: 7th-6th century B.C.?

    Phase two: Quarry. Excavation of the stone construction materials. Deep regular cuts in the bedrock and a few traces of tools (chisel).
    Date: c. late 3rd-early 2nd century B.C.

    Phase three: Construction of the temple. Probably a first structure built in perishable materials of which only the postholes remain, later replaced by a stone structure. This structure probably abutted and made use of the quarry front, which was faced with masonry. A stretch of dry stone pseudo- polygonal walling USM 2, and numerous fragments of wall plaster decorated in the first style with a wave motif, from the deepest layers, were all that remained of this phase.
    Date: 2nd century B.C.

    Phase four: The temple probably went out of use (abandonment/collapse), this phase was completely obliterated by the reoccupation of the site.
    Phase five: Building of the first apsidal structure. Robbing of the temple walls; reuse of some of the stone in the apse structure of church USM 2045, creation of a limekiln for calcinating part of the temple stonework.

    Phase six: Burials are placed within the area; one of the earliest burials could be the anthropomorphic rock-cut tomb orientated east-west. This is the only burial found so far on this alignment, which is a perfect match with that of the church itself.
    Date: 5th-6th century A.D.?

    Phase seven: Building of the second apsidal structure, which remains to be investigated.

    Phase eight: Burials placed outside the building on a north-west/south-east alignment, close to the apse of the first apsidal structure. These tombs were dug in the ground; the graves were lined with stones including reused elements datable to the 9th century.
    Date: post 9th century.

  • Sonia Antonelli- Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” Chieti 
  • Oliva Menozzi - DiSPUTer Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” di Chieti 

Director

  • Maria Carla Somma- Vasco La Salvia Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” Chieti
  • Maria Cristina Mancini- Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” Chieti
  • Oliva Menozzi - DiSPUTer Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” di Chieti
  • Sonia Antonelli- Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” Chieti

Team

  • Jacopo Cilli - Università G. d’Annunzio di Chieti-Pescara
  • Joan Badal Viciano - Università G. d’Annunzio di Chieti-Pescara
  • Ruggero D’Anastasio, Museo Universitario, Università G. D’Annunzio di Chieti
  • Marinella Urso
  • Carmen Tanga - Università G. d’Annunzio di Chieti-Pescara
  • Cristina Di Giansante - Università G. d’Annunzio di Chieti-Pescara
  • Donato Palumbo - Missione Archeologica dell’Università di Chieti in Libia, Egitto e a Cipro
  • Enzo Santeusanio
  • Clara Tamburrino - CAAM Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” di Chieti
  • Eugenio Di Valerio - CAAM Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” di Chieti
  • Maria Giorgia di Antonio

Research Body

  • CAAM (Centro di Ateneo di Archeometria e Microanalisi-Chieti)
  • LABDAM (Laboratorio di Diagnostica e Archeometria del Mosaico)
  • ORTO BOTANICO DI NAPOLI, Università degli Studi Federico II, Napoli
  • Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell’Abruzzo
  • Università degli Studi “G. D’Annunzio” di Chieti

Funding Body

  • Università degli Studi “G. D’Annunzio” di Chieti

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