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Analysis and Study of Archaeological Materials (2010)

Introduction

The archaeological material at issue comes entirely from two sets of surface collections:

  • the first one comes from the urban area of Interamna Lirenas and was unsystematically conducted by locals before our arrival. Some limited sampling, however, was carried out by us within specific squares of the geophysical grid;
  • the second one constituted integral part of the field survey and it was total for pottery and sampled for building materials.

All materials – except metals and glass – were washed and cleaned. Specific attention was paid to the analysis and study of pottery, especially in terms of macroscopic analysis of the fabrics and identification of shapes. All diagnostic potsherds (e.g. rims, bases, handles) were drawn and inked to be digitally acquired through scanning. We then searched for possible comparisons in published works in order to derive relevant chronologies.

 

Results

The ceramic assemblage coming from the urban area of Interamna Lirenas is very diversified in terms of both typology and chronology.

Black gloss pottery, of high quality and well-preserved, is attested almost continuously from the second half of the IV c. BC until the mid I sec. AD, eventually supplanted by terra sigillata italica. A fragment of Dressel 2-4 amphora, whose fabric is compatible with specimens produced in the territories of Pisa and Volterra, attests contact/exchange with Northern Etruria. Especially relevant is therefore an inscribed stamp of L. Rasinius Pisanus on a sherd of late terra sigillata italica (from Northern Etruria as well). Indeed one cannot exclude such an origin for several other terra sigillata diagnostic potsherds (dishes type Conspectus 18.1.1, 4.6.1 and 21.3.1).

Van der Werff 2 and Keay 25.1 amphorae, together with Hayes 14A, 80A and 8B African Red Slip vessels, point to the presence of African products within the urban area, attested from the mid Republic until the VI c. AD.

Significant is the presence of local/regional coarseware pottery. By comparing our own evidence with published materials, it is clear that Republican-only types are relatively scarce, unlike types with a stronger morphologic tradition (e.g. documented II c. BC to II c. AD). Markedly more diversified and widespread are the Imperial types.

Numerous fragments of dolia, tiles, mosaic elements, marbles (some moulded) and colour plaster point to the presence of urban buildings of varied nature. Household activities are attested by a fragment of loom-weight.

As for materials collected during the field-survey, they have allowed a closer dating of sites and offsites (see Par. 3). In this way, the coarseware dataset from Interamna Lirenas (fabrics, morphology, types) has not only found relevant comparisons, but has also been widened.

In this respect, the material from SITO 2 (UT 3) is of remarkable significance as it allows to document the uninterrupted occupation of the site from the Late Republican period until Late Antiquity (the latter period being further attested by the recovery of a IV c. AD coin).

Specific attention has been paid to the study of building materials, primarily flat and curved tiles, whose size-module and shapes can be doubtlessly referred to the Roman period. Unfortunately, the absence of inscribed stamps did not allow any further chronological definition. Nonetheless, the morphological analysis does indeed constitute a solid platform on which to establish a feasible typology for future applications.

 

Conclusions

The analysis and study of the archaeological material has highlighted a remarkable aspect: the almost total absence of African Red Slip pottery and the very scarce presence of cooking African pottery. This fact can be connected/explained with the widespread diffusion of local/regional coarseware which could have easily met the demands of the local population. Therefore the proper understanding local coarseware patterns is not only important, but rather essential, especially in relation to the much more limited supply of imported finewares.

In conclusion, the joint analysis of all material classes has allowed field-survey to postulate settlement continuity in both urban and rural areas, from the IV c. BC until Late Antiquity. Among other things it points to the presence of imported products from other areas, both in Italy and across the Empire.

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