• Poggio Imperiale
  • Poggibonsi
  • Podium Boniti
  • Italy
  • Tuscany
  • Province of Siena
  • Poggibonsi


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  • No period data has been added yet


  • 300 AD - 800 AD
  • 1150 AD - 1800 AD


    • The University of Siena has been excavating on Poggibonsi, a flattened elongated hill, since 1991. Life in the territory began in the late Roman period and continued throughout the early medieval period and, after an apparent interruption, resumed between the mid 12th and the beginning of the 14th century. During this period the site was the historic centre of Poggibonsi: between 1155 and 1270 a castle stood here, followed by the urban nucleus of _Podium Bonzi_, and in 1313 it was chosen by Emperor Arrigo VII as the site for the new city of Monte Imperiale. In the 15th century, by order of Lorenzo the Magnificent, a great fortress was constructed on the hill by Giuliano di Sangallo. The 2006 campaign investigated an area inside the church, this led to the establishment of almost the entire perimeter of the building. Excavations were undertaken to look for traces of the western perimeter wall, which turned out to have been totally robbed, including the foundations. It was possible to follow the line of the fill in the robber trench, damaged by modern agricultural operations. The northern perimeter wall, partly investigated in previous campaigns, was almost completely removed in the modern era. Traces were found of the robber trench of the church façade and consequently a reconstruction of the building’s complete plan was made. Between the pilasters dividing the central nave from the south nave the remains came to light which may be attributed to a wall that delimited an enclosed space, for religious use, within the ruined building. It may be suggested that at least in part the building continued to function as a cemetery and for the celebration of religious functions, as attested by two masonry built loculi, datable to between the 17th-18th centuries, found in the south-west part of the central nave during earlier excavations. Numerous tombs were also excavated; in some cases showing several phases of use; a total of 36 individuals were identified. A first group of burials comprised tombs situated in the south nave along the perimeter wall. These were infants buried in coffins lined with small limestone slabs, some of which with covers. All the excavated skeletons, except one, were orientated with the head to the south-west. a second group was also situated in the south nave, in the zone between the pilasters and south wall. These were adults buried in earth graves, all (except one), with the head to the north. There were no elements to provide dating. The third and fourth groups are infant burials. It is probable that the three groups of infant burials can be attributed to diverse phases of the building’s use. Those of the third group, situated in the central nave, are situate on the same level as those of the first; the skeletons buried in stone lined coffins were nearly all on the same alignment (head to the south-west). The fourth group of burials, placed around a loculus that does not pre-date the construction of the church, appear also contemporary with the previous group and attributable to a period between the 12th and 13th centuries.
    • The excavation campaigns undertaken between 2007 and 2009 were concentrated in the area of the church dedicated to Sant’Agostino (Area 15) – already previously investigated – in order to complete the research on the cemetery area found in the interior and to the exterior of the religious building. To date numerous burials of infants and adults, probably datable to several phases, have come to light. The data obtained during the 2008 and 2009 excavations allowed not only the reconstruction of the sequence relating to the cemetery area of Sant’Agostino, but also the tracing of a first outline of the cemetery’s phases of use. The earliest phase probably dated to a period prior to the construction of the church and can be attributed to the early medieval phase of Poggio Bonizio; the second phase is datable to the 12th-13th century coinciding with the occupation phases of the town of Poggio Bonizio and the church. As regards the organisation and layout of the burials, in the early medieval period there seemed to be no differentiation of the areas: burials were placed regardless of age or sex and in many cases the tombs were partially removed by subsequent burials. However in the late medieval period, the area was characterised by greater spatial organisation: inside the building, above all in the south nave, only infant burials were present whilst the adults – with the exception of a tomb situated at the centre of the central nave, containing three individuals – were buried around the church, in tombs with masonry coffins, up against the perimeter walls of the church. A new excavation area was opened (Area 16), situated in the eastern part of the archaeological area. This revealed the existence - during the occupation phases of Poggio Bonizi castle (1155-1270) – of a large rectangular building, set back from the main road crossing the settlement. In a first phase the structure seemed to have been constituted by a single large room divided into two “naves” by five pillars, with a single side entrance facing towards the nearby church of Sant’Agnese. It was only in a second phase, attributable to the central decades of the 13th century, that the internal spaces of the building were transformed. A wall built of split stones and brick was constructed to close the space delimited by the last pillar, thus creating a small inner room, perhaps a service area. In the space between the road and the building, in a moment subsequent to the latter’s construction, a smaller structure was built. It had three aligned pillars – perhaps the remains of a loggia – delimiting the space remaining between this structure, the road and the large rectangular building behind. The situation and alignment of the larger building, its internal divisions, the entrance facing the church and the presence of what was probably a loggia in front of the road suggest – although the investigations are at a preliminary stage – that rather than being a permanent dwelling this large structure was used for offering temporary accommodation to travellers.
    • This was the 17th campaign of excavation on the site of Poggio Imperiale at Poggiobonsi (SI) dating to between the early 6th and the 15th centuries. This season, the primary aim was to investigate the late medieval levels (12th-14th centuries) and check for the presence of early medieval deposits. An area of c. 20 x 20 m was opened immediately east of that excavated last year in order to further investigate the urban layout of Podium Bonizi. The latest levels date to 1313, the year in which Arrigo VII, undertaking his _Iter_ Italicum_, reached Poggibonsi and founded, on the ruins of Poggio Bonizio, destroyed by the Florentines in 1270, a new town called Monte Imperiale. Although this project was never completed due to the emperor’s death five months after the foundation of Poggio Imperiale, the construction work was already in an advanced state. This aspect was further confirmed during this season by the identification of another building (ED11). The layers mentioned above covered the stratigraphy relating to a large terraced house that was part of the castle of Podium Bonizi and in this case, it was possible to identify its various occupation phases. Originally in 1155, the year of Poggio Bonizi’s foundation, the building (ED106) was a large terraced house with a ground floor with a travertine paving and structured in two aisles divided by a series of pillars and half-pillars, which supported the upper floors. No collapsed material was found for this building, but based on the size of the walls and the pillars it may be suggested that the building had two more floors. This first phase concluded at the end of the 12th century, when a violent earthquake, probably the same as the one attested at Arezzo in 1192, destroyed the castle of Podium Bonizi. Following this destruciton, the reconstruction changed the building’s typology. The buildings were rebuilt on a smaller scale, making use of earth walls, which either made use of foundations of roughly-worked stone blocks or rested on the perimeter walls of the earlier terraced house whose walls lost their function as supporting structures. In our case, the terraced house was substituted by two buildings: a small rectangular structure, divided in two, (ED108) was built in the northern part while the central part was occupied by a building (ED107) formed by a ground floor and a mezzanine floor that functioned as living quarters. Both structures functioned as blacksmith’s workshops, in fact, the remains of a number of forges were found in both. The identification of these workshops constitutes important information as, considering that the neighbouring buildings had the same function, it shows this area of the settlement formed a large and structured smith’s quarter (two workshops situated immediately east of those investigated this year and one situated on the other side of the road on which the they stood). Another building (ED109) was identified immediately south of the terraced house, which was used for storage as attested by the large amount of animal bones and pottery found inside it. Subsequently, the early medieval levels were investigated. The evidence led to the identification of a succession of three structures, which have been given a preliminary chronology based on construction technique while awaiting the finds study. There was a boat-shaped hut (C101) built using the sleeping -beam technique, but only one side was preserved as part was cut by the foundations of the terraced house. A rectangular hut (C103) identified in the southern part of the metalworking area was earlier in date and a forge hearth and a portion of earth wall still _in_ _situ_ were preserved. The latter obliterated a semi-sunken hut (C102) of sub-circular plan of which the entrance/slide was also found; the construction technique and stratigraphic sequence date the hut to the Lombard period. The 2019 campaign will aim to continue the investigations in the southern part of the site in order to gain a full understanding of the archaeological deposit on this side of the hill.


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    • M. Valenti, R. Francovich (a cura di), 2007, Poggio Imperiale a Poggibonsi. Il territorio, lo scavo, il parco, Milano.
    • M.A. Causarano, 2008, Le chiese di Poggiobonizio tra XII e XIII secolo, in S. Campana, C. Felici, R. Francovich, F. Gabbrielli (a cura di), Chiese ed insediamenti nei secoli di formazione dei paesaggi medievali della Toscana (V e X secolo), Atti del seminario (San Giovanni d’Asso - SI, 10-11 novembre 2006), Firenze: 273-296.
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    • R. Francovich, M. Valenti 1996, The Poggibonsi excavations and the early medieval timber building in Europe, XIII International Congress of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences, Forlì - Italia-8/14 settember 1996, Colloquia 14, Forlì: 135-149.
    • R. Francovich, C. Tronti, M. Valenti 2004, Il caso di Poggio Bonizio (Poggibonsi-Siena): da castello di fondazione signorile a "quasi-città", In AA.VV., Le terrenuove fiorentine, Firenze: 201-256.
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    • B. Tixier, M.A. Causarano, 2007, Poggio Imperiale a Poggibonsi (SI). La campagna di scavo 2007 (Area 5 e Area 15) e l’analisi degli elevati, in Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana III, Firenze: 607-614.
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    • M. Valenti (a cura di), 1996a, Poggio Imperiale a Poggibonsi (Siena). Dal villaggio di capanne al castello di pietra. I. Diagnostica archeologica e campagne di scavo 1991-1994, Firenze.
    • M. Valenti, 1996b, Sul percorso della Via Francigena. Gli scavi archeologici di Poggio Imperiale a Poggibonsi, in I Quaderni dell\'Arte 17: 4-48.
    • M. Valenti, 1998, Lo sviluppo di un piccolo centro urbano sul tracciato della via Francigena: il caso del castrum di Poggio Bonizio, in «...Passent la terre, Toscane et Montbardon...», I percorsi della Via Francigena in Toscana, Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi tenutosi a Montalcino il 23-24 maggio 1997, Poggibonsi: 195-213.
    • M. Valenti, 2000, Il villaggio altomedievale di Poggio Imperiale a Poggibonsi (SI). Dall’età longobarda all’età carolingia, in C. Bertelli, G.P. Brogiolo (a cura di), Il futuro dei Longobardi – L’Italia e la costruzione dell’Europa di Carlo Magno, Brescia. 194-199.