The Faculty of Classics of the University of Cambridge (Prof Martin J. Millett, Dr Alessandro Launaro), in collaboration with the British School at Rome (Prof Simon J. Keay) and the Soprintendenza Archeologica del Lazio (Dr Giovanna R. Bellini), and with the support of the British Academy, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and the Comune di Pignataro Interamna (FR, Italy), has carried out non-destructive archaeological research at the site of the Roman town of Interamna Lirenas and in the territory immediately to the North from there (Contrada Termine, Santa Croce, Ruscito). This fieldwork season (4-25 September, 22-31 October 2011) has involved 3 main activities:
- systematic field-survey (5-10 september, 22-25 October);
- geophysical prospection (12-23 September);
- analysis and study of archaeological materials (12-24 September, 26-30 October);
The 2010-11 Fieldwork Seasons: areas of geophysical prospection (light red) and field survey (light blue), the main urban area of Interamna Lirenas (red outline) and the via Latina vetus (yellow line) (for a larger view click here).
All results from the different fieldwork activities converge in confirming the substantial success of the chosen methodologies in relation to the environmental and archaeological nature of the study area. Magnetometry has unquestionably shown its effectiveness by collecting a huge amount of data in a relatively short amount of time. Accordingly, the nature of the buried archaeology combined with the specific topographic and geological features of the area have doubtlessly indicated this technique as the most suitable. On the other hand, systematic field-survey hugely benefitted from its intensive character, which – among other things – is the reason behind the recovery of new sites in areas already investigated by the Canadian team. The fact that these sites are of rather limited size supports this opinion (a similar argument can be made with reference to offsites).
A lot of time has been devoted to the analysis and study of collected archaeological materials. Results have surpassed our most optimistic expectations in terms of both quantity and quality of finds. During field-survey we collected 2358 diagnostic finds (an average density of 14 diagnostic fragments per ha), most of them comparable with published materials. Coarseware especially has produced outstanding results as for its dating potential. This task made it possible to provide accurate chronologies for all sites and for more than 50% of the off-sites (the rest being nonetheless dated to more general periods).
In addition to proper research activities – and somewhat complementary to them – a lot of emphasis has been put towards making our presence and fieldwork well known to the local population. During the whole period of the geophysical survey the archaeological area has been kept constantly open to anyone curious about it and willing to spend some time getting to know it. Groups of people were taken on tours of the site and explained about the work we as archaeologist were actually doing. More specifically, a group of about 60 students (aged 11-14) with teachers from the school of Pignataro Interamna were given a guided tour of the main site and were shown a selection of our most interesting archaeological materials. On initiative of the Mayor of Pignataro Interamna an Italian newspaper published a long article about our research (Latina Oggi, 2 September issue).
Results have been presented at the 9th Annual Conference of the Soprintendenza Archeologica per i Beni Archeologici del Lazio (27-29 April 2012) and will be published in the Lazio e Sabina proceedings (2013).