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


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  • No period data has been added yet


  • 1500 BC - 500 AD


    • The _Aufinium_- Capestrano Project is the result of a long collaboration between the Archaeological Superintendency of the Abruzzo, Chieti University and several other bodies. _The town and territory_ The excavations at Capestrano have revealed the existence of an ancient town, _Aufinium_, in a well-structured territory. The hill was surrounded by several curtain walls that functioned more as substructures for the terracing than as defences. The terraces present two phases of use, one datable to the Hellenistic-Roman period, while the second phase dates to the late medieval period. Two temples were uncovered on the hill summit, which functioned as the acropolis, “Temple A” and “Temple B”, datable to between the 3rd and 1st centuries B.C. Very little of Temple A, in particular the podium structures excavated directly in the hill’s rocky substratum, was preserved. Temple B, still being excavated, is very interesting both for the typology of the building materials and for the later phases of reuse with early medieval burials reusing materials from the temple. Abundant fragments of coloured wall plaster with a ‘wave’ decoration, of a type attested in Campania and the Taranto area, were found inside the temple. A rectangular hut was discovered on the hill summit. Divided internally by posts, it had pits for storing dry foodstuffs and water, together with grindstones and mortars. Another feature of the _vicus_ is the so-called theatre or assembly building, which follows the line of the hill slope. The tiers were made up of steps of two different heights forming the seat and footrest. Trenches were opened at the foot of the hill in order to investigate the imperial phase of urbanisation. The remains of private dwellings were uncovered, including an _impluvium_, which were heavily damaged by ancient digging for planting vines and by centuries of deep ploughing. _The Roman necropolis_ The excavations in the necropolis of Capestrano uncovered 54 tombs of different dates, as well as the _via_ _sepolcrale_ already identified in the 1930s. Two chamber tombs, built with the entrance facing towards the ancient road, were of particular interest. The presence of worked bone elements from funerary beds, decorated with motifs relating to love and death, indicates that these were high status burials. However, the most significant discovery was constituted by numerous cremation burials in urns, attesting this practice for the first time at Capestrano and in the Vestina area in the imperial period. Several tomb types were present: ‘a fossa’, ‘a dado’ and within an enclosure. Most were constituted by a pit containing an urn with the grave goods placed both inside and outside, or only inside the urn. The grave goods mainly comprised small jars and _pocula_, _balsamari_, glass _unguentaria_, lamps and plates.
    • _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.
    • The 2017 excavations on the summit of the S. Antonino-Collelungo hill at Capestrano (AQ), in the area of the ancient town of _Aufinum_, aimed to define the plan and function of the semicircular structure previously identified in the north-western part of the excavations and interpreted as a possible second apse. A further objective was to understand the relationship of this structure with an overlying cement floor on a stone foundation also partially identified in 2016. The continuation of the excavations showed that the floor surface was rectilinear running east-west and extended to the west beyond the trench edge. The construction technique and related stratigraphy suggest a preliminary date within the Roman period and that it was the floor of the rooms connected to temple B. The floor surface was partially created over a vaulted rock-cut cavity, delimited to the south by the above mentioned semicircular structure. The excavation inside the structure showed the plan to be sub-circular and not semicircular. There were two fills, probably corresponding with two different phases of use in the Roman and then medieval period (based on a preliminary analysis of the finds). A channel exited the sub-circular structure and followed the line of the bedrock that had been deliberately levelled. The channel seemed to link the structure and the underlying cavity to the well situated at the centre of the church apse. Therefore, the cavity and the sub-circular structure may be interpreted as a cistern. The cement floor surface was covered by a later floor made of tile, of which a few patches were preserved, probably dating to the post-Classical period, and bordered to the north by a wall and to the east by levelled bedrock. Unfortunately, the few finds did not provide a precise date. However, it is possible that the floor and wall were in phase with the church partially excavated during previous campaigns.


    • V. D’Ercole, O. Menozzi, S. Torello Di Nino, ‘Gli ultimi scavi nella necropoli di Capestrano’, Il Fucino e le aree limitrofe nell'antichità. Atti del III Convegno di Studi, Avezzano 2010: 487-504.
    • V. D’Ercole, D. Fossataro, O. Menozzi, S. Torelli di Nino, ‘Aufinum: il progetto, il territorio, l’abitato e la necropoli’, in CEFRA 2014.
    • D. Fossataro, Survey, GIS e Remote sensing nell’area di Capestrano (AQ), in O. Menozzi, D. Fossataro, M.L. Di Marzio (a cura di), SOMA 2005. Proceedings of the IX Symposium Of Mediterranean Archaeology, Chieti 24-26 febbraio, Oxford 2008: 357- 368.
    • D. Fossataro, O. Menozzi, E. Di Valerio, ‘Capestrano Project: GIS and Preliminary archaeological results’, AIAC Roma 2008.
    • O. Menozzi, D. Fossataro, ‘Progetto Capestrano: abitato e territorio’, in Il Fucino e le aree limitrofe nell'antichità. Atti del III Convegno di Studi, Avezzano 2010: 476-486.
    • S. Torello Di Nino, “Progetto Capestrano”, Tordone V. (a cura di) Notiziario del Dipartimento di Studi Classici 2009, Chieti 2010.
    • O.Menozzi, D.Fossataro, S.Torello di Nino, V.D’ERCOLE, ‘Aufinum: città e necropoli’, in S. Bourdin e V. D’Ercole (a cura di), I Vestini e il loro territorio dalla preistoria al medioevo. Collection de l’École Francaise de Rome, Roma 2014: 265-290.