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



  • 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 north around the site (“giro del Don”) 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 built on the wishes of the bishop of Albenga, in whose dioceses the site lies.

    PIAC’s 2014 and 2015 campaigns concentrated on the area surrounding the Early Christian basilica, leading to the identification of a series of earlier rooms adjacent to it, one of which had a mosaic floor, continued the investigation of the stratigraphies identified between 2009 and 2011 along the north-west edge of the area, and began to investigate the stratigraphy immediately north of the basilica. Here, a room was identified that was probably used in the early medieval period for reworking building materials and metals from the basilica. The first partial exploration inside the basilica also began, with the identification of multiple burials inside a number of sarcophagi found during earlier excavations and in a stone coffin, all in the basilica’s north aisle.

    The 2016 campaign began excavation in the north aisle of the Early Christian basilica, which identified a new series of sarcophagi made of Finale stone; almost all in a row and aligned east-west (only one was perpendicular to the others and aligned north-south).
    Investigation continued of the stratigraphy in the area abutting the north side of the basilica. In the 9th century, this area was certainly used for the reworking of materials from the basilica. The discovery of three hearths led to the identification of small limekilns used to rework pieces of sarcophagus (a few were found in the immediate vicinity showing signs of the effect of fierce heat).

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


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


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

Research Body

  • Fondazione “Nino Lamboglia
  • Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, Città del Vaticano

Funding Body

  • Comune di Riva Ligure
  • Fondazione “Nino Lamboglia


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