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  • Interamna Lirenas
  • Contrada Termine
  • Interamna Lirenas
  • Italy
  • Latium
  • Provincia di Frosinone
  • Alvito

Credits

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Monuments

Periods

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Chronology

  • 350 BC - 600 AD

Season

    • The total-coverage geophysical prospection (magnetometry) carried out over the whole urban area of Interamna Lirenas had made it possible to identify not only the main settlement layout, but also relevant monumental features within it. Most prominent of all, next to the forum, was a theatre. This discovery prompt a serious reconsideration of the nature and importance of the settlement, especially since the absence of any archaeological feature hinting to the presence of this kind of building had been taken by our predecessors as a sign of the secondary nature of the town. The 2013 (6x20m) test trench had already verified (a) the close correspondence between the excavated structures and the plan produced through geophysical prospection and (b) the remarkably good state of the buried archaeology (although little was preserved above floor level). The excavation of foundations also made it possible to date the building to the second half of the I century BC, a date which is fully compatible with the building technique employed. In 2014 the trench was further extended by way of another perpendicular section (23x13m) encompassing portions of the cavea, the orchestra and the scaena. The excavation yielded important details that also help appreciate the post-abandonment phases of the building and its state of preservation. First and foremost, the floor of the orchestra is yet to be uncovered, despite the fact that our trench has reached a depth of about 1.70m below the surface. Furthermore, although we have identified the wall of the scaena and one of the hospitalia, the floor of the pulpitum itself is yet to be found. All of this suggests that the structure is in fact better preserved in its lowest levels than originally assumed. As for the scaena wall, whereas the southern face was badly preserved, the northern one yielded extensive in situ remains of frescoes (two sections about 4m in length on each side of the hospitalium). These have not been excavated as it was deemed advisable to carry out this work in the presence of a conservator, something which we have already planned for the 2015 season. Especially interesting is the evidence we have uncovered for an extensive and systematic spoliation process. Large blocks of limestone, in all likelihood part of the cavea originally, are found displaced and broken up – some even stacked vertically against each other for later processing! The thick layer of debris which fills the cavea appears to have been dug trhough at some point in order to allow access to the structures, in accordance to a practice which is well-attested at the site for the whole modern period (used like an open-air quarry). A preliminary analysis of some of the finds from contexts associated with these activities suggest a medieval origin for at least some of them. The presence of a large magnetic anomaly to the NW (as revealed by earlier magnetometry) taken together with the fact that several of the limestone blocks were smashed seems to suggest the presence of a lime kiln nearby.
    • In 2015 the subtrench has been further extended to the North-East and it has been possible to verify how the large stone-blocks (already identified in the course of the preceding fieldwork season) are in fact part of a rather large pile. These blocks obviously result from the spoliation process and, in their secondary deposition, block a passage, bordered by debris on both sides, that had been cut through the foundation of the theatre’s scaena. This passage features several phases as suggested by the presence of various horizontal contexts. Some other structures have emerged and belong to the lower levels of the foundation: as such, they could be related to a sewer, possibly linked with the linear anomaly we already identified in the course of the 2011 magnetometry and which appears to cut across the theatre itself. From the point of view of the general architecture of the building, we have identified the remains of the pulpitum along the scaena. Furthermore, we have recovered rests of a floor which gives an idea of the level of the proscaenium. Remains of the painted plaster on the wall of the postscaenium have also been brought to light: it is preserved up to a height of about 30 cm and it appears to have been decorated with bands of different colours (red, yellow and white). It is clear that after the abandonment of the theatre (a phase whose absolute chronology cannot be defined yet), the area underwent significant transformations (some especially destructive in character) which affected even the foundations. It is not yet possible to provide a sound explanation for these changes and we wait for the study of recovered materials at least to shed light on the chronology. We still have not identified the floor of the orchestra and the limit of the pulpitum towards the cavea, both apparently obliterated by later interventions.
    • The 2017 campaign has brought to light the entire plan of the theatre, also bringing to completion the excavation of the _orchestra_ , the _pulpitum_ , the lateral _basilicae_ and the _aditus_ _maximi_ . Inside the main hall, very few (scattered) fragments of dark grey marble are what remains of the flooring of the orchestra. The _proscaenium_ wall (in opus testaceum) is in very bad conditions, for the most part surviving at foundation level. As for the _scaena_ , it is now confirmed that a rich _columnatio_ , featuring imported marbles from all over the Mediterranean, belongs to a second phase. Along the SW side of the building, the central room beneath the _cavea_ has been excavated: directly connected with the outside, it was originally paved with tiles, on top of which a wall in stones bound with mortar was later erected (closing its NE side). One of the secondary entrances has been excavated too: it featured a staircase to the _media/summa_ _cavea_ , of which only the lower step is in fact preserved. In front of it, within a spoliation level, a stone sundial was recovered: it is exceptionally well-preserved and it is inscribed with the name of the person who covered its cost (a certain Marcus Novius Tubula). The geophysical prospection (GPR) within the urban area has been completed, producing an impressively detailed plan of the town, featuring a dense settlement pattern and a hitherto under-estimated monumental character.

Bibliography

    • R. Ballantyne, G.R. Bellini, J. Hales, A. Launaro, N. Leone, M.J. Millett, L. Verdonck,F. Vermeulen, 2016. Interamna Lirenas (Research Report 2015). In Papers of the British School at Rome 84: 322-325.
    • R. Ballantyne, G.R. Bellini, N. Leone, M.J. Millett, 2015, Interamna Lirenas (Research Report 2014). In Papers of the British School at Rome 83: 299-302.
    • G. R. Bellini, A. Launaro, N. Leone, M.J. Millett and S.L. Trigona,2015, Ceramiche comuni da Interamna Lirenas e dal suo territorio. Primi risultati dello studio crono-tipologio (campagne 2010-11). In E. Cirelli, F. Diosono and H. Patterson (eds.), Le forme della crisi. Produzioni ceramiche e commerci nell’Italia centrale tra Romani e Longobardi. Bologna.
    • G.R. Bellini, S. Hay, A. Launaro, N.Leone and M.J. Millett , 2014, Interamna Lirenas (Research Report 2013). In Papers of the British School at Rome 82: 327-31.
    • G. R.Bellini, S. Hay, A. Launaro, N. Leone and M.J. Millett, 2014, Interamna Lirenas e il suo territorio. Indagini archeologiche non invasive 2012. In G. Ghini and Z. Mari, Lazio e Sabina 10. Rome. 195-204.
    • G.R. Bellini, S. Hay, A. Launaro, N. Leone and M.J. Millett, 2013, Interamna Lirenas (Research Report 2012). In Papers of the British School at Rome 81: 358-60.
    • S. Hay, A. Launaro, N.Leone and M.J. Millett, 2013, Interamna Lirenas e il suo territorio. Indagini archeologiche non invasive 2011. In G. Ghini and Z. Mari, Lazio e Sabina 9. Rome. 507-17.
    • G.R. Bellini, S. Hay, A. Launaro, N. Leone and M.J. Millett, 2012, Interamna Lirenas (Research Report 2011). In Papers of the British School at Rome 80: 358-60.
    • S. Hay, A. Launaro, N. Leone and M.J. Millett, 2012, Interamna Lirenas e il suo territorio. Indagini archeologiche non invasive 2010. In G. Ghini and Z. Mari, Lazio e Sabina 8. Rome. 295-301.
    • G.R. Bellini, M.J. Millet, 2015, Roman colonial landscapes: Interamna Lirenas and its territory through Antiquity. In J. Pelgrom and T. Stek (eds.), Roman Republican Colonisation: New Perspectives from Archaeology and Ancient History. Rome. 255-75.