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  • Monte Pallano
  • Val di Sangro
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  • Italy
  • Abruzzo
  • Provincia di Chieti
  • Bomba

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Periods

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Chronology

  • 1100 BC - 500 BC
  • 400 BC - 200 AD
  • 400 AD - 500 AD

Season

    • The aim of the 1999 season was threefold: to complete work, begun in 1997, in an existing area (MP 6000); to open up a new area further to the east (MP 7000), attempting to establish the limits of the inhabited nucleus; and to continue post-excavation analysis. In MP 6000 we sought to conclude work begun on a wall by John Lloyd in 1997. Excavation at MP 6000 had revealed a wall of large limestone slabs running roughly south-north up the slope. The precise limits of the wall were established, in the course of which an interesting sequence of construction, abandonment, demolition and reterracing for agricultural purposes was revealed. The wall itself seems to be of the late first century bc or early first century ad. At some point, perhaps in the late empire, it was destroyed. A new trench, MP 7000/7000A was also opened in an area known to be rich in archaeological materials. A series of ephemeral trample horizons were exposed in MP 7000, producing a lot of late republican and early imperial debris, but importantly a silver coin of the second century B.C. and two nice pieces of (unique?) architectural terracotta with dolphin, possibly from a Hellenistic temple which must have stood nearby. The area seems to have been associated with sheep-rearing and sheep product processing. Trench 7000A, just down the slope, produced walls and a corridor, which seem to be part of a larger Roman public/villa complex being dug by the Soprintendenza Archeologica just a hundred metres or so to the north. Adverse weather meant this trench could not be finished, but importantly third century A.D. pottery may, for the first time, have been found in the upper rubble layers, extending the occupation of the site.
    • This year work was continued on the trench MP 7000A, now renumbered MP 8000 and enlarged to the SE and SW. It soon became clear that MP 8000 was not a single building with rooms within, as had been supposed in 1999, but rather a number of phases involving an open area between walls, which appeared respectively in the NE and SW margins of the trench. The most interesting find was a substantial, well-built, polygonal terrace wall, still standing to over 1.5 m in places. Both the fill of the terrace itself and the debris from the collapse of the wall and terrace contained identical assemblages of architectural terracottas and black-gloss pottery, including votive items: these appear to be the debris from the demolition of a nearby sanctuary, perhaps part of a rebuilding of that sanctuary. The \'sanctuary\' seems to have gone out of use before the appearance of Italian terra sigillata, and the function of the adjacent area was transformed: a garden soil was laid over the rubble of the terrace wall collapse and continued in use until the High Empire; a building to the south, partially uncovered, may prove to be contemporary with the garden and to have been served by it. The abandonment of the last phase of the sanctuary may, but need not, be contemporary with the Social War. The date of the laying of the garden (very end of the Republic/early Empire) seems to match that for renewed building activity elsewhere at the settlement nucleus on Monte Pallano. Fields at four locations around Monte Pallano were re-walked with a view to excavation (from 2001 onward) of some sites identified by survey between 1995 and 1998.
    • This year work was continued on the trench MP 7000A, now renumbered MP 8000 and enlarged to the SE and SW. It soon became clear that MP 8000 was not a single building with rooms within, as had been supposed in 1999, but rather a number of phases involving an open area between walls, which appeared respectively in the NE and SW margins of the trench. The most interesting find was a substantial, well-built, polygonal terrace wall, still standing to over 1.5 m in places. Both the fill of the terrace itself and the debris from the collapse of the wall and terrace contained identical assemblages of architectural terracottas and black-gloss pottery, including votive items: these appear to be the debris from the demolition of a nearby sanctuary, perhaps part of a rebuilding of that sanctuary. The 'sanctuary' seems to have gone out of use before the appearance of Italian terra sigillata, and the function of the adjacent area was transformed: a garden soil was laid over the rubble of the terrace wall collapse and continued in use until the High Empire; a building to the south, partially uncovered, may prove to be contemporary with the garden and to have been served by it. The abandonment of the last phase of the sanctuary may, but need not, be contemporary with the Social War. The date of the laying of the garden (very end of the Republic/early Empire) seems to match that for renewed building activity elsewhere at the settlement nucleus on Monte Pallano. Fields at four locations around Monte Pallano were re-walked with a view to excavation of some sites identified by survey between 1995 and 1998 and on the basis of previous survey and GPR work, three test pits were dug at Acquachiara.
    • Previous seasons work at this site had uncovered a large late second century B.C. terrace wall of substantial polygonal masonry, delimiting a broad terrace partly built up of architectonic debris consistent with a sanctuary of the late Hellenistic period. We presumed that the terrace itself had supported some now lost sanctuary structure. The terrace seems to go out of use in the late Republic, with rebuilding in the Augustan period and some sort of occupation down to the second century A.D. The construction phases of the terrace are now better understood, excavations having revealed a substantial controterra within the terrace, which served twin purposes of structural stability and drainage. The terrace was cut into in the Augustan period to create a series of small rooms; this resulted in considerable interference in the structure, and probably the extent, of the polygonal terrace wall. The relationship of Augustan structures and subsequent occupation and destruction horizons to the Hellenistic terrace still pose interpretative problems. Four trenches were dug in two fields at Acquachiara, on the slopes of Monte Pallano, continuing the previous year’s stratigraphic investigations of rural habitation suggested for this area by John Lloyd’s field survey. As in previous year, archaeological horizons were found intact below the depth currently affected by ploughing. In this case the make-up for a cocciopesto floor of an internal area was found, probably to be interpreted as a storage area in a rural farming complex, given the large number of dolia and amphorae discovered. Remains of bronze tableware and semi-luxury floor paving suggest a residential building nearby. The dolia were marked with their carrying capacity in amphorae (17•••, half the Ostian norm), suggesting a farming enterpise plugged into the world of commercial redistribution.
    • This year saw the completion of work on the terrace with the obtainment of a complete section right across the site, from natural to topsoil. The trench (MP 8700) linking up the existing trenches to provide the section was finished. We now understand the evolution of the terrace much better: the substantial controterra within the terrace now seems to have been originally a first terrace wall (picked up again further to the East) only later, with the expansion of the terraced area to the south being made to serve the double purpose of structural stability and drainage for the new terrace. The taphonomy of the terrace was better understood, with various tipping events of terracottas being revealed. It is now certain that no building stood on the terrace, which is only the lowest in a series running up the hillside. It has also revealed the presence of sacrifical refuse being dumped, with other cultural debris, outside the temenos wall: it is possible, that unusually for a medium sized sanctuary, cattle in the prime of life may have been sacrificed here. Two trenches were dug in Acquachiara where a Roman structure engaged in commercial redistribution had been found previously. The trenches were aimed to investigate micro-terraces which were thought to indicate the extension of the building sampled in 2002. One structure was found: a circular cut in the rock, with a shallow concave floor sealed in a good quality cocciopesto, and the vertical sides of the cut lined with carefully cut tiles of an unusual hardness and consistency. This seems to have been a storage device, although for what is unclear; the ceramics almost certainly include im¬perial coarsewares, and the structure can be brought into relation with the imperial agricultural building just down slope. More work is needed here.
    • The Sangro Valley Project was begun in 1994 by John Lloyd (Institute of Archaeology, Oxford University), Neil Christie (Leicester University), and Amalia Faustoferri (Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Abruzzo). The Project was modeled on Graeme Barker's decade-long survey project in the Biferno Valley in Molise, the province south of the Abruzzo, one of the first major studies of a Mediterranean valley to use an array of analytical methods to study a valley's settlement pattern in the "longue durée" and to seek to complement the "total history" of the Annales school with a form of "total archaeology." Since Lloyd's untimely death in 1999, an Anglo-American team (headed by Susan Kane, Oberlin College and Edward Bispham, Oxford University) has continued operations in the region, focusing its work on Monte Pallano the dominating feature of the river Sangro's middle valley and its environs. Monte Pallano was the focal point for a series of settlements dating from the early Iron Age to the High Empire, with sporadic activity continuing in the Middle Ages. The current Sangro Valley Project sustains both a research programme in the Sangro middle valley, using Lloyd's survey data as its starting point, and a didactic field school for undergraduates, with excavations on a site within the park of Monte Pallano. (Susan Kane-Ed Bispham)
    • In 2005 the Sangro Valley Project continued work at Monte Pallano and Acquachiara. On Monte Pallano, further geophysical prospection and trial trenches to the north and east of the terrace precinct begun in 2004 were continued in 2005. Excavation on the higher terraces revealed substantial amounts of tile and pottery, but no structures; there was, however, evidence of ‘quarrying’ of the kind observed elsewhere on Monte Pallano. Any temple in the area has so far proven to be elusive. At Acquachiara work was continued in Trench 8000. This reopened area was approximately 15 metres long by 7 metres wide. Five strategically placed sondages (A-E) were positioned within the interfaces of the most interesting archaeological deposits. The area is one of high residuality, with large quantities of Iron Age pottery from a number of dates, and a little Classical/early Hellenistic material. The area seems to be an ancient terrace, which between the seventh and fourth centuries B.C. was surfaced with a series of floor preparations, alternating between gravel and beaten clay. There was evidence of the systematic use of fire, probably for cooking or food preparation; and fragments of quernstone may be linked to wheat seed recovered by flotation. The absence of plausible post-holes and the paucity of daub suggest that this was an outside area, delimited from the surrounding fields by a low wall and a terrace. The site is probably to be interpreted as a marginal area of an Iron Age village or hamlet where food preparation or processing of agricultural products took place. This site adds substantially to discussion of the nature of Samnite rural settlement, which is still poorly understood in the Abruzzo.
    • In 2006 the “Sangro Valley Project” continued investigations at Acquachiara on the slopes of Monte Pallano. The circular structure which emerged in 2004 was looked at in more detail although its function remains unknown. This tumulus with conical section (the gradient not very steep) rested directly on the ancient ground level. In the lower layers, stones and pottery fragments constitute the loose foundation on which rest stones of larger dimensions and _dolia_ fragments, covered by a layer of clay which may have formed the floor. Further south terracing on an E-W alignment was uncovered. Following the creation of the circular structure and the terracing, a layer of beaten white clay was put down in which the “feet” of a series of terracotta doorjambs, tapering to a square section were found. Four of these elements were placed in such a way as to define the corners of a square space which may be interpreted, on the basis of the fragments of a grind-stone and a burnt area of grain and chaff (recovered using flotation), as a granary or area used for working agricultural products. The absence of post holes and the scarce presence of lathing and pisè, suggest that the terrace was part of an outside area. The dating for the fine ware pottery (bucchero-type and “Etrusco-Corinthian” type painted pottery) does not go beyond the end of the 6th century B.C.; some forms date to the 7th century B.C.. The finds seem to indicate the construction of the terrace and round structure dates to the late 6th-beginning of the 5th century B.C.. The earlier phases are attested by the remains of flint working. The opening of another two trenches brought to light pottery datable to the Roman period and the identification of a building that can now be interpreted as a Roman farm, where in 2002 an opus signinum floor and large fragments of _dolia_ and _amphorae_ were found. The building, dated in 2002 to circa 100 A.D. on the basis of a cup in terra sigilata orientale, today seems much earlier thanks to finds of Augustan material. The building was in use until the 2nd century A.D., as attested by numerous coins dating from the Republican period to Flavian and Antonine periods.
    • Investigations of a series of archaic terraces begun in 2004 (ACQ 8000) were this year concluded. Work concentrated principally on the central terrace, for which two principal phases were established. Phase 1 (dated by C14 to the early sixth century) sees the construction, probably in fairly quick succession, of the terrace, a contraterra and a ‘circular feature’ of uncertain function; four terracotta posts fixed into a floor surface and identified as a cooking stand on the basis of concentrations of ash in the vicinity, probably belong to this phase; this phase also produced abnormally high concentrations of bitter vetch (vicia ervilia) for this region. Analysis of the faunal remains reveals that the cattle raised in this area were, as often elsewhere in Adriatic and Apennine Italy, significantly smaller than their Tyrrhenian counterpoints. Phase 2 (mid sixth to early fifth century?) saw the laying and repairing of a thick beaten clay floor over large parts of the terrace, which may have been associated with threshing of wheat and other agricultural activities. The site then appears to be abandoned. To the west a second trench (ACQ 10000) begun in 2002 was continued. This had revealed parts of a Roman farm building, probably for the storage of agricultural produce (earlier work had produced many amphora and dolium sherds). The discovery of a new wall suggests that one of the walls already known was an internal partition wall, suggesting the building was larger and more complex than believed initially. Other discoveries include a cocciopesto basin of as yet unknown purpose; and a deposit of carbonised fruits associated with an ITS platter, which may be a foundation deposit for the building, probably dating to the early first century A.D.
    • Excavation of a farm building (ACQ 10000) discovered in 2002, and excavated in 2006 and 2007 was completed. The building is now known to be c. 5 x 10 m; it had a tiled roof, but no internal walls. Built in the first half of the first century A.D., it was occupied until the Hadrianic period, as pottery and numismatic evidence show; then it seems to have been abandoned after a single catastrophic event which brought down at least part of the roof. An earlier phase is represented by two wall stubs and residual late Hellenistic pottery; however the Roman phase involved cutting back into the hillside and levelling the ground surface (the natural marl was smoothed as a floor surface), mostly removing earlier phases. The building was probably used for processing of agricultural produce and secondary products from stock-raising. Previously dolia inscribed with what was presumably their volume (17, 5) had been found in the building. This season a shallow rectangular mortared basin, resting on a raft of cuboid cobbles, and water-proofed with a thin veneer of cocciopesto, was found in the NW corner. The function of the basin is as yet undefined; it appears to drain into one of five sub-circular pits cut into the floor. These were heterogeneous in terms of the material found within them; but three were characterised by the same concentrations of carbonised fruit (flesh and seeds) which had been noted in 2007 (Shelton 2008). Since one of these pits seems to drain the basin, it is likely that the fruit remains are derived from a food production process involving the basin (rather than representing waste, whether accreted casually or dumped as a midden). Other activities taking place at various times are weaving (20 plus loomweights were found together, with others found in previous seasons); and perhaps bone working (a long-horn cow horn found on the floor next to an iron knife). The building was not reconstructed, although a crude wall stub belonging to a later horizon was located to the west; but continued anthropogene activity in the area is suggested by the accumulation of faunal, and anthropogenic material in its post-collapse layers; evidence of late Roman frequentation has been noted nearby (Fasti Online report 2007). The post-collapse assemblage implies continued habitation nearby: it seems that our building was part of larger farm complex nearby, now in heavily-wooded ground. This would account for the earlier residual material and quantities of tile noted in the woods, and might well be the source, through colluviation, of the surface assemblages identified by field survey in the 1990s by John Lloyd and his colleagues: Scatters 7 and possibly 9. This location lies at the watershed of two hydrological systems, conforming to what is known of the preferred positions of Roman farm sites around Monte Pallano. Field survey nears Archi and San Giovanni di Tornareccio produced a small number of surface signatures compatible with occupation sites, ranging from the Neolithic to the Roman period.
    • The Sangro Valley Project undertook a study season in July 2010 aimed specifically at processing the material and data from two sites at Acquachiara, excavated over several years between 2001 and 2009, with a view to publication. Substantial progress was made in two areas essential for publication. One was in a complete review of the finds, and the creation of a database catalogue. The production of this catalogue not only moves our work with the finds definitively into the publication phase, but also allowed for some important revisions to be made to the draft catalogue text for our Monte Pallano site; close analysis of the finds has also allowed some revisions to be made in the Harris matrix for Acquachiara. The second area of progress was made in finds photography. All existing finds, from Pallano and Acquachiara, were re-shot. We now have a large database of all images which can underpin an ambitious publication programme. We were also able to undertake tidying of the Project Archive, revising and updating our reports for Fasti-Online, as well as sorting better our other resources, with a view to possible publication of the archive online. Additional work included a systematic study of tile fabrics from Pallano and Acquachiara, and individual reconnaissance of the Pallano terraces; both will contribute to the final publication. We also had visits from no less than three of our pottery specialists, who were able to report pleasing progress in the final reports for the Pallano ceramics.

Bibliography

    • E.H. Bispham, K. Swift, N. Wolff, 2008, What Lies Beneath: Ploughsoil Assemblages, the Dynamics of Taphonomy and the Interpretation of Field Survey Data, (with K. Swift and N. Wolff), in G. Lock and A. Faustoferri (eds), Archaeology and Landscape in Central Italy. Papers in Memory of John A. Lloyd. Oxford University School of Archaeology: Monograph 69, Oxford: 53-76.
    • C. Shelton, 2008, A Paleoethnobotanical Approach to Central Apennine Economy and Identity in the Sangro River Valley, Abruzzo, Italy, 650 B.C.–A.D. 150. Thesis submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate Schools of Arts and Sciences, Boston University.
    • S. Kane, 2006, Terracotta dolphin plaques from Monte Pallano (Abruzzo), in I. Edlund-Berry, G. Greco and J. Kenfield (eds), Deliciae fictiles III, Architectural Terracottas in Ancient Italy: New Discoveries and Interpretations. Proceedings of the intenational seminar held at the American Academy in Rome, November 7-8, 2002, Oxford: 176-180.
    • S. Kane, 2008, Life “on the edge”: a view from the Abruzzo, in G. Lock and A. Faustoferri (eds), Archaeology and Landscape in Central Italy. Papers in Memory of John A. Lloyd. Oxford University School of Archaeology: Monograph 69, Oxford: 93-103.
    • G. Lock, 2008, Change and Continuity in Surface Survey Data: Exploring Thresholds in the Sangro Valley, Italy, in G. Lock and A. Faustoferri (eds), Archaeology and Landscape in Central Italy. Papers in Memory of John A. Lloyd. Oxford University School of Archaeology: Monograph 69, Oxford, 2008: 33-45.
    • A. Faustoferri, 2008, The Archaeological Park of Monte Pallano, Abruzzo: a Work in Progress, in G. Lock and A. Faustoferri (eds), Archaeology and Landscape in Central Italy. Papers in Memory of John A. Lloyd. Oxford University School of Archaeology: Monograph 69, Oxford: 77-91.
    • E. Love, 2008, The Evolution of Animal Husbandry and Society in the Backcountry of Ancient Italy. Thesis submitted for the Degree of Master of Arts, in the University of Sheffield.
    • J.A. Lloyd, G. Lock, N. Christie, 1997, From the Mountain to the Plain: Landscape Evolution in the Abruzzo. An Interim Report on the Sangro Valley Project (1994-95), in Papers of the British School at Rome LXV: 1-57.
    • A. Faustoferri, J.A. Lloyd 1998, Monte Pallano: a Samnite Fortified Centre and its Hinterland, in Journal of Roman Archaeology XI: 5-22.
    • G. Lock, T. Bell, J. Lloyd, 1999, Towards a method for modelling surface survey data: the Sangro Valley Project, in M. Gillings, D. Mattingly, J. van Dalen (eds.), Geographical Information Systems and Landscape Archaeology, vol. 3 of G. Barker, D. Mattingly (eds.), The Archaeology of Mediterranean Landscapes, Populus Project, Oxford: 55-63.
    • E.H. Bispham, G.J. Bradley, J.W.J. Hawthorne, S. Kane, 2000, Towards a Phenomenology of Samnite Fortified Centres, in Antiquity 74: 23-24.
    • B. Tyler, A. Wilson, A. Wickham 2002, Tracking the Samnites: Landscape and Communications Routes in the Sangro Valley, Italy, in American Journal of Archaeology 106.2: 169-186.
    • J.A. Lloyd, G. Lock, N. Christie, 1997, From the Mountain to the Plain: Landscape Evolution in the Abruzzo. An Interim Report on the Sangro Valley Project (1994-95), Papers of the British School at Rome 65: 1-57.