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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 occupied by a Roman villa. The villa has only been partially excavated, but the archaeological data suggests continuity of use until 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 evidence for 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.

    The 2014 and 2015 excavations carried out by PIAC investigated the area surrounding the Early Christian basilica, while from 2016 onwards excavation began inside the church.
    The 2018 excavations worked in three different areas.
    Outside the basilica (Area 3000-Sector F), in the northernmost strip of the excavation area, the investigation began with the surviving modern stratigraphy and identified, which revealed the same contexts identified in 2009-2014 further to the west. This stratigraphy was formed by agricultural trenches present across the entire area probably from the late 19th century onwards. The first layers of road surface, also identified in other sectors during previous campaigns, appeared below the agricultural stratigraphy.

    Also outside the church (Area 3000 –Sector Z), two early medieval tombs were excavated, whose suggested dating is between the mid 7th and the early 9th centuries A.D. The burials in stone coffins each contained one individual: “Tomb 14” contained the remains of a man over 40 years old and there were signs of disturbance to the primary covering; “Tomb 15” contained the remains of a woman aged between 60 and 69 years old, whose cranium presented the non-metric trait of metopism.

    Inside the basilica (Narthex – North part) the north part of the exonarthex was excavated. This zone was excavated in the 1980s by G. Martino and then by P. Pergola, the latter finding the only intact inscription from the entire site here (so-called “Epigrafe di Maria”. The 2018 excavations uncovered an “a cappucina” infant burial, which has been given a preliminary date of the 7th century A.D. or later. The stratigraphy around the burial was of particular interest and seemed to indicate a collapse in this sector prior to the creation of the tomb.

  • Ph. Pergola, Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana 
  • A. Garrisi, Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana 


  • Ph. Pergola, Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana


  • I. Gentile, Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana
  • E. Kas Hanna, PIAC
  • G. Castiglia, PIAC
  • A. Paonessa, Università di Colonia
  • F. Zoni, Università degli Studi di Bologna
  • A. Garrisi, Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana
  • A. Bona, Università “Cattolica” di Milano

Research Body

  • Fondazione “Nino Lamboglia” - ONLUS
  • Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana

Funding Body

  • Comune di Riva Ligure
  • Diocesi di Ventimiglia – Sanremo
  • Fondazione “Nino Lamboglia” - ONLUS


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