Cottanello – Lazio
Santa Maria dei Casali, Cottanello (Lazio)
Conducting the magnetometer survey at Cottanello, using the Bartington Grad601-2 Dual Array Twin Fluxgate Gradiometer. (Photograph: Sophie Hay)
The town of Cottanello lies 60km north of Rome and 15km west of Rieti nestled in the hills of the Sabina. The survey site is located just over a kilometre northwest of Cottanello in Collelungo. The site is perched on the south face of a hill overlooking the Fonte Monaci river. The survey was based around the church of Santa Maria dei Casali, the oldest church in the area and supposedly erected over the remains of a pagan temple.
A magnetometer survey was carried out between the 10th-14th March 2008 in the vicinity of the church of Santa Maria dei Casali. The work was carried out at the request of Sindaco Roberto Angeletti of the Comune di Cottanello in association with the Soprintendenza Archeologica per Lazio (Dott.ssa Giovanna Alvino), and the landowner, who wished to apply geophysical survey to investigate the archaeological potential of the site following the discovery of a fragment of a statue. The survey was undertaken by a joint team from the Archaeological Prospection Services of Southampton (APSS) and the British School at Rome.
The small survey undertaken at Collelungo produced perplexing results. Although the Magnetometer detected clear and distinct anomalies, the interpretation of these features remains problematic.
There are some potential traces of archaeological features associated with the church of Santa Maria Degli Casali. Two curvilinear positive anomalies could represent a double enclosing ditch associated with the church or may relate to an earlier structure. Although unclear, there may be a structure in this area denoted by a curvilinear shaped anomaly. This feature may relate to an earlier phase of the church but confirmation of this is impossible to deduce from the geophysical survey results and would require excavation.
In the vicinity of the find spot of the statue fragment in Area 2 there are traces of buried features. Unfortunately, their seemingly random distribution does not pertain to being a Roman structure.
Overall, the survey results do not confirm the hypothesis that there were Roman structures associated with the fragment of statuary found. The dearth of evidence from this local area for structural Roman remains would seem to confirm our findings. It remains perplexing, however, as to where the statue fragment originated.
Sternini, M. (ed) 2000. La Villa Romana di Cottanello. Edipuglia: Bari.