Settore I

Carlo Regoli

Settore I is located in the front room of one of the two Imperial tabernae that opened onto a paved street coming from the vicus Iugarius (Figure 34; the taberna is dated to the Hadrianic period by brick stamps; Virgili 1977, 20, n. 1; Colini et al. 1978, 422; the same chronology is presented in Poucet 1980, 291 and in Cassetta 2006). The excavation, which extended over an area of approximately 2.28 x 1.80m, was conducted in June and July of 1974-1975, with further work carried out in July of 1976. Work began with a sounding, 'A', in the southern half of the sector (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4052.1-4; AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.87). In this area was a superficial, heavily mixed layer covering a more compact layer with substantial traces of burning, which had been cut to build a masonry structure between trenches I and II (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.89).  On June 27, the excavation was extended to the entire trench (the remainder of the area of the taberna, designated as sounding B); the following day saw the removal of the surface layer and the underlying layer, AB 2, which was interpreted as a preparation surface and excavated in two phases (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.91). At the same time, the foundation trench of the wall between sectors I and II was emptied. The layer underneath AB 2 (AB 3), which was extremely rich in materials, covered the floor of the taberna, built of bipedales (Roman bricks) (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.93-94). In the afternoon of the first day, work continued with the excavation of AB 4, a beaten-earth surface underneath the pavement, which was found to cover an irregular clayey layer containing few artefacts (AB 5).

A water pump was installed on 3 July to manage the groundwater, which entailed the removal of six bricks (bipedales) of the preserved pavement. The excavation then proceeded with the removal of AB 5 and AB 6 and 7 below it. The regular removal of groundwater allowed for the excavation of AB 8, composed exclusively of clay, numerous rocks, and few artefacts, and AB 9, which yielded a substantial amount of ceramic sherds and a few fragments of architectural terracottas, which on the other hand were well represented in the underlying layer (AB 10; AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.97-99). Work then continued with the excavation of AB 11 (which was considered the same as the soil removed from the foundation trench of the podium; AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.100) and AB 12; the latter, characterised by a clayey matrix with few ceramic sherds, was interpreted as the first levelling layer of the Archaic temple (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.100-101).

Layers AB 13, 14, 15, and 16 were then removed, together with the fill of the foundation trench of the Middle Republican podium on the eastern limit of the excavation area. Under AB 16 was a beaten-earth surface with substantial traces of burning (AB 17), which along the eastern side of the trench covered 'una fila di blocchi in cappellaccio [...] che risultano essere stati coperti dalla costruzione del muro a blocchi' (a row of cappellaccio blocks [...] covered by the construction of the ashlar wall) (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.105, 133; according to Pisani Sartorio, the blocks were of tufo; 1977, 60; the 'muro a blocchi' refers to the podium of the Middle Republican temples). AB 17 also covered several layers abutting the row of blocks (AB 18, 19, 20, 21), which yielded very rich assemblages (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.106). A few days later, at the end of July, the excavation was temporarily halted.

Work resumed in the middle of July of the following year and continued until the beginning of August (the archive preserves only a photocopy of a short summary of the work carried out in 1975; AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.109-112). Between July 14 and 22, the trench was cleaned but not further excavated because of the presence of water. The excavation resumed in full only on 24 July with the removal of AB 21 and 22, which contained substantial amounts of very fragmented materials, and then continued with the excavation of AB 23, 24, 25-26, which were characterised by a matrix of rich black organic soil covering the access stairs of the Archaic temple (Figure 40; AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.11).

Figure 40

Figure 40: Wall with SW-NE orientation above the Middle Republican podium in settore I (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.104)

Underneath AB 27 were layers 28, with many tufo fragments but little pottery, and 29 and 30, characterised by a sterile clayey matrix. A small section, 50cm each side, was then excavated in the middle of the trench for a depth of 50cm to verify that the excavation had reached geological layers. This sounding revealed only a layer of sterile gravel; the trench was therefore closed (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.111-112; cf. Virgili 1977, 33, n. 13). Before filling the trench with pozzolana (hydraulic cement), however, the excavators decided to undertake a 'sgrottamento' (undercut) of the trench wall to verify whether the two blocks of the stairs of the Archaic temple were part of a course or a floor. This attempt proved unsuccessful, however, as 'la terra ha cominciato a cedere ed è stato necessario abbandonare questo tipo di ricerca' (the wall of the trench began to collapse, making it necessary to abandon this type of investigation) (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.112).

In July of 1976, the trench was revisited for the third and final time in order to recover the architectural terracottas left in situ during the excavation of settore II D and to cut into the northern wall of the trench in order to uncover the course of blocks delimiting the 'lo scarico delle offerte votive' (deposit of votive offerings) (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.115). Between the 6th and 8th of July, the workers removed the water that completely filled the deep trench and proceeded to secure the area again. The cutting in the northern wall of the trench revealed two other blocks of the access stairs of the temple (Figure 41; AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.120).

Figure 41

Figure 41: Front stairs of the Archaic temple and side wall with SW-NE orientation in settore I (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.126)

On 14 July, a similar cutting was excavated in the western wall of the trench, yielding votive materials (among which is noted the presence of miniaturised pots, spindles, a spindle-whorl, grooved amber beads, worked wood objects, and large quantities of bucchero ware; AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.129). The following day, the baulk separating settori I and II was removed, causing water and soil from settore II to fill settore I (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.127). It was thus decided to fill the trench 'al tetto della galleria Ovest per eventualmente procedere [...] allo scavo negli strati superiori della parete Ovest' (up to the top of the western tunnel [i.e. to fill the cutting within the western wall of the trench] in order to proceed subsequently [...] with the excavation of the upper layers of the western wall) (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.133).

The excavation was halted on 23 July 1976.


The available documentation for this trench, like that for settori II and IV, allows only a rough understanding of the work undertaken in the various seasons. For instance, there are no general plans of the trench in the course of excavation or at the end of the work or other drawings or photographs of the individual layers. Descriptions of the various stratigraphic units are similarly problematic; in some cases, the units are not numbered, and there are contradictions between the archival and published evidence.

Summarising for the sake of clarity, the excavated sequence was divided into the following phases (Figure 42; Virgili 1977; Colini et al. 1978; Adornato 2003, 812-13): phase I, 'periodo della taberna' (period of the taberna) (layers AB 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5); phase II, 'innalzamento del livello dell'area mediante strati di riporto' (raising of the level of the area through fills) (AB 6, 7, 8, 9, and 9 I-II-III-IV-V); phase III, 'distruzione e livellamento delle strutture del Tempio Arcaico' (destruction and levelling of the structures of the Archaic temple) (AB 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16); phase IV, 'periodo di frequentazione del Tempio Arcaico' (period of use of the Archaic temple) (AB 17, 18, 19-20, 21, 22, 23, 24-25, and 26); phase V, 'periodo precedente alla costruzione del Tempio Arcaico' (period preceding the construction of the Archaic temple) (AB 27 and 28); phase VI, 'fase puramente geologica' (geological phase) (AB 29 and 30).

Figure 42

Figure 42: Stratigraphic section, settore I (Virgili 1977, 21, fig. 3)

On the whole, this reconstruction seems coherent, though it presents some notable inaccuracies.

Although no layers or structures pertaining to the first architectural phase of the Archaic temple were documented in this trench, an analysis of the stratigraphy seems to point to two distinct phases within the group of layers attributed by the excavators to the period of use of the Archaic temple (Virgili 1977, 30-2; Colini et al. 1978, 427). The first, connected to the second architectural phase of the temple (as suggested by the fact that the constituent deposits cover the steps of the second stairway of the temple structure), would seem to comprise layers 22, 23, 24, and 25-26, which are rich in ceramic fragments and have been interpreted as 'uno scarico dei resti di sacrifici alla Mater Matuta' (a deposit of remains of sacrifices to Mater Matuta) (Pisani Sartorio 1977, 61). These layers are covered by a beaten-earth surface (AB 21), which was partially cut for the construction of a masonry structure with NE-SW orientation (designated 'C' by Colonna). The internal face of this wall created a new limit against which a series of layers containing materials 'di natura tipicamente votiva' (typically votive in character) were deposited (AB 18, 19-20; Virgili 1977, 30; Colonna 1991, 53; cf. Pisani Sartorio 1977, 61). The beaten-earth surface (AB 21) clearly marks a break within this phase. This would thus seem to constitute a second phase of activity connected to the construction of the wall with NE-SW orientation, comprising layers 17, 18, and 19-20, all containing substantial amounts of joining sherds; as already suggested by Colonna (1991, 53, n. 13), these layers may represent deposits of votive materials intended to level the area and allow the continuation of cult activity in the period between the final destruction of the Archaic temple, already in disrepair, and the subsequent levelling of the area for the construction of the middle Republican podium.

As also documented in settori II and IV, the phase of use of the Archaic temple was followed by a substantial levelling of the area, perhaps after a fire (Ioppolo 1989b, 36; the layers belonging to this phase present substantial traces of burning). To this phase belong layers AB 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16, characterised by regular plan, constant depth, and numerous burnt artefacts (Virgili 1977, 29).

The topmost layer of this group, AB 12, sealed the levelling phase and divided it from the fill deposited at the time of the construction of the large podium in peperino (volcanic rock). Between these two phases, however, was the cutting of the foundation trench of the large eastern wall of the podium, which affected all the levelling layers. The material from the foundation trench (layer AB 10-11), also connected to the destruction and levelling of the Archaic temple, had accumulated around it (this layer was particularly rich in fragments of architectural terracottas; Virgili 1977, 28). At least five courses of peperino blocks of the eastern wall were then deposited within the trench, directly on the Archaic structures, and the trench was then filled (AB 9; Pisani Sartorio 1977, 59). In addition to layer 9, this phase includes layers 6, 7, and 8, which contain materials datable from the Middle Bronze Age to the Archaic period (Virgili 1977, 26; Colini et al. 1978, 424; cf. layers D4-D5-D6 and E4-E5-E6 of settori II and IV). The complete absence of pottery datable after the end of the 6th century may suggest that the large podium was constructed between the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 5th century (Pisani Sartorio 1977, 60; cf. Poucet 1980, 293; contra Coarelli 1988, 216-19).

The last archaeologically attested phase of activity belongs to the Imperial period, when a series of brickwork tabernae was built on this side of the podium; according to the excavators, these structures comprised a wooden floor on the street level, a lower room with a bipedales pavement, and a back room at a slightly lower level (Virgili 1977, 22; Colini et al. 1978, 422).

Above a clayey layer laid to protect the structure from groundwater (AB 5) was a very thin layer of mortar and crushed brick (AB 4); the latter layer was interpreted as a floor (Virgili 1977, 25), but it seems more likely that it served as a preparation layer for the bipedales pavement, which unfortunately was preserved in a very fragmentary state. The pottery within this preparation layer yields a date for the structure of the 2nd century CE (probably the Hadrianic period, as suggested by documented brick stamps; see above). The layer above the pavement (AB 3), around 20cm thick and rich in materials, may represent an effort to raise the level of the pavement during a phase of reuse of the structure in the second half of the 3rd century CE (AFSRCM, S. Omobono, b. 31, 1, c. 4051.93; Virgili 1977, 25).

This room seems to have had an additional phase of activity datable to the beginning of the 4th century CE (AB 2), identified by the excavators as a pigment shop (Colini et al. 1978, 422), which was covered some time later by a rather heterogeneous and heavily disturbed deposit (AB 1). This layer was cut by the foundation trench of a post-antique structure, dated generally to the medieval period, which divided settore I from the backroom of the taberna (settore II; Virgili 1977, 22).


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