Interamna Lirenas, Lazio

September 2010 -2012

The work was carried out from 2010 to 2012 at the request of Dott. Alessandro Launaro, in collaboration with Prof Martin Millett, of the University of Cambridge as part of his current research project on Interamna Lirenas as part of the Roman Colonial Landscapes project at the University of CambridgeThe project is one of the Associated Projects of the BSR.Interamna Lirenas

Interamna Lirenas is located in central Italy, around three quarters of a kilometer north of the River Liri and just under three kilometres south west of the modern town of Pignataro Interamna. It lies on a low ridge between two streams leading down to the River Liri, in the valley between the Mainarde range to the north and the Monti Aurunci to the south (Patterson 2006: 101). The via Latina originally ran through the site and still defines a modern field boundary.

Interamna Lirenas has been referred to as a Latin colony (Salmon 1955: 67), and has received limited archaeological attention. Whilst a degree of information about the town can be derived from literary sources regarding its foundation in 312 BC and its involvement in the second Samnite war we still have a relatively limited understanding of the character of the settlement itself.

The magnetometer survey covers the entire site (about 25Ha) and with each season much was added to our understanding of the layout of the Roman colony. The forum is visible in the central section of the results and evidence of a theatre flanks its western edge. The traces of other structures across the entire survey area are clear and define the urban landscape.


The anomalies in the results unmistakably represent the grid pattern of the ancient road system interlacing across the landscape. The traces of the roads in the results are of varying lengths due to the preservation of the sub-surface features and the abundant field clearance of paving slabs has had obvious effects.



Detail of the theatre. Image by University of Cambridge


The topographic plan of the area clearly sets the form and layout of the town into context. It is an invaluable resource when considering sites with such complex topography and aids interpretation of features detected by the magnetometer. The layout of a site such as Interamna Lirenas is topographically dependent and the growth and development of the settlement will have been governed by the shape of the land it occupies.

The main development in the final season was the discovery that the density of construction within the town was not as high as had been anticipated. Rather, the town looks to be defined by a ribbon development flanking the sides of the via Latina. In the northern and southern extremes of the town, the land within the walls seems positvely lacking in structural elements with the main concentration of evidence for the settlement being confined to the central section.

Further reading

Hay, S., Launaro, A., Leone, N. and Millett, M. 2012. Intermana Lirenas e il suo territorio. Indagine archeologiche non invasive 2010. In Lazio e Sabina 8. Edizione Quasar. pp 603-9

Hay, S. 2010. For a brief report on the results of the magnetometer survey click here

Selected bibliography

Patterson, J, R. (2006). Landscape sand Cities: Rural Settlement and Civic Transformation in Early Imperial Italy. Oxford University Press.

Salmon, E.T. 1955. Roman Expansion and Roman Colonization in Italy. Phoenix Vol 9, No. 2. 63-75.