Tiber Valley Project

Introduction

The British School at Rome’s Tiber Valley project, directed by Dr Helen Patterson, studied the changing landscapes of the middle Tiber valley as the hinterland of Rome through two millennia. It drew on the vast amount of archaeological work carried out in this area to examine the impact of the growth, success and transformation of the Imperial city on the history of settlement, economy and society in the river valley from 1000 BC to AD 1000.

Tiber Valley Project Map

Project Structure

The Tiber Valley project involved twelve British universities and institutions as well as many Italian scholars. It was composed of three main elements:

1) The project core: At the British School at Rome, a team of researchers collected and reanalyzed the data with the aim of producing a new materially-based history of the Tiber valley.

(a) The re-evaluation of John Ward-Perkins’ pioneering South Etruria survey on the west bank of the Tiber was at the heart of the project. The survey provided a unique record of the historical landscape. Fourteen specialists restudied the survey material, comprising over 90,000 fragments of pottery, marble and glass. The results were integrated with the unpublished data from the Farfa survey on the east bank directed by John Moreland in the 1980s and with the published data from other surveys and excavations, together with a full bibliographical research.

(b) Fundamental for the analysis and integration of the various datasets was the Tiber valley database and Geographical Information System (GIS). The system forms an impressive archaeological resource, both in its scale and potential. It contains circa 5,500 sites ranging from surface scatters, to villas, to towns dating from the Bronze Age to the Medieval period.

(2) Thematic studies: These examined specific aspects of the landscape and were developed by number of scholars.

(3) New fieldwork: A strong element of the project was the study of urban centres, whilst other projects focused on the Sabina region on the east bank, and on the study of the late antique and early medieval landscapes.

Summary

The first phase of the Tiber Valley project and the restudy of the South Etruria data led to a fundamental reassessment of our historical and archaeological approaches to the Tiber valley, allowing a new reading of the historical landscape and the changing relationship between Rome and its hinterland. A volume on the ‘Changing landscapes of the middle Tiber valley’ is now in preparation by the director of the project and the two Leverhulme funded research fellows.