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Excavation

  • Capo Don
  • Riva Ligure
  • Costa Balenae
  • Italy
  • Liguria
  • Provincia di Imperia
  • Riva Ligure

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Credits

  • The Italian Database is the result of a collaboration between:

    MIBAC (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale per i Beni Archeologici),

    ICCD (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione) and

    AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica).

  • AIAC_logo logo

Summary (English)

  • The site of Capo Don is situated in the territory of Riva Ligure (IM), on the border with that of Taggia (IM). The via Aurelia, travelling west, curves around the site (“giro del Dom”) and delimits the archaeological area. In antiquity, the mouth of the Tabia torrent (later the Taggia, now the Argentina) was situated just beyond the “giro del Don” to the west. The watercourse now runs along the entire Argentina Valley.
    From the 2nd or 1st century B.C. onwards, the landing place at the torrent mouth was used by a Roman villa, found beyond the “giro del Don” at about 3 m below ground level. The villa was only partially excavated, but the archaeological data suggests continuity of use until the 3rd or 4th century A.D.

    The discoveries made during the excavations by the Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana have settled almost all doubts about the presence in precisely this point of the landing place known from ancient topographical and cartographical sources as the _ Costa_ Balenae.

    There is no certain knowledge of the Christianisation of the site prior to the first half of the 6th century A.D., when the “basilica di Capo Don” with its baptismal font and large funerary area was built, probably on the wishes of the bishop of Albenga, in whose dioceses the site lies.

    PIAC’s 2014 campaign concentrated on the area surrounding the Early Christian basilica, leading to the identification of a series of earlier rooms adjacent to it. One of these had a mosaic floor and at least two layers of wall plaster corresponding with two occupation phases. Very faint traces of red paint on a white background were visible on the latest plaster layer.

    Continuation of the investigation of the stratigraphies identified between 2009 and 2011 along the northern edge of the area revealed several small sections of structures on an east-west alignment, suggesting the presence of metal, pottery, and glass workshops (probably to be associated with the presence of the landing place of Costa Balenae).

    A primary analysis of the pottery finds confirmed the complete chronological sequence from the 1st century B.C. to the end of the 7th century A.D.
    The 2015 excavations continued work on the rooms to the west of the basilica leading to the find of a fragment of floor mosaic with a vegetal motif. Excavations immediately north of the basilica identified a room used for the reworking of the metals from the basilica, probably relating to the recovery of construction materials (c. the mid 9th century). Inside the basilica, multiple burials were discovered inside several sarcophagi (identified during excavations in the 1980s by the Superintendency but not excavated) and a burial in a stone coffin, all situated in the basilica’s north aisle.

  • Philippe Pergola - Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana - Città del Vaticano 
  • Alessandro Garrisi - Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana 

Director

  • Philippe Pergola - Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana - Città del Vaticano

Team

  • Alessandro Garrisi - Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana
  • A. Bona - Università “Cattolica” di Milano
  • E. Kas Hanna - PIAC
  • Elena Dellù- Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
  • F. Zoni - Università degli Studi di Bologna
  • Gabriele Castiglia - Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana
  • Giovanni Svevo

Research Body

  • Fondazione “Nino Lamboglia
  • Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana

Funding Body

  • Comune di Riva Ligure
  • Fondazione “Nino Lamboglia

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