2013 Excavations

The second season of excavations at Segni took place between the 22nd July and the 17th August 2013.

The work focused on two of the sites where preliminary excavations began in 2012, at Prato Felici on the acropolis and in Piazza Santa Maria.

Prato Felici

The excavation at Prato Felici continued the investigations begun in 2012 of a large structure identified above Porta Foca on the south eastern side of the acropolis at Segni. The previous year’s clearance work revealed a structure, measuring 12.62m in width, built in opus signimum with a thick cement floor (c.0.40m) with a fabric of medium to small sized fragments of limestone and sporadic fragments of tile and pottery.

A trench was excavated immediately to the south of the building where the previous year’s investigations had revealed a stratigraphy dating back to the late Bronze Age. The trench was further extended to understand the immediate wider context, which revealed that the material was washed down the steep slope, and lay immediately upon the limestone bedrock upon which the structure was built. The trench revealed a construction date for after the second half of the 2nd century BC with material also illustrating frequentation of the area in the 4th century BC, possibly associated to structures found immediately to the north of the building by an earlier rescue excavation by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Lazio.

Piazza Santa Maria

The excavation in Piazza Santa Maria began in 2012, with a trench positioned over a series of interconnected high amplitude anomalies recorded by an earlier ground penetrating radar survey. The excavation revealed a complex system of overlying and joining walls, which were further explored in the 2013 season with the extension of the trench eastwards towards the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, in order to reveal the function and plan of a number of walls extending in this direction.

The excavation has revealed the long and complex urban and architectural history of the area, testified by the diverse structures relating to two different phases built upon one another, which in turn were both levelled for the later construction of the current 17th century cathedral.

The lowest level of the excavation corresponds to the Roman and Late Antique phase, and is characterised by a number of floor surfaces and associated walls, in particular a well preserved polychrome mosaic.

Segni Mosaic

Immediately to the south of this was a further room of the same period. Here, fragments of cocciopesto and mosaic, with a different design, were used in the floor preparation, an indication of an earlier phase. These structures can be associated with an opulent building of the late Republican period, most probably a private residence (a rich domus), which faced onto the square of the forum of Signia, which is now probably located underneath the current cathedral.

During the 12th century AD there was a requalification of the space within the area; many of the existing walls were levelled, even though it is possible that a few of these were still visible or somehow reused. The level was raised by at least 2m and new walls, including the large foundation at the southern extent of the excavation, were constructed on approximately the same alignment.

The final phase of activity recorded within the excavation belongs to the 17th century and forms part of the significant urban change that took place due to the construction of the current cathedral. The preceding structures were robbed for material and destroyed to a level underneath the floors, and the area was levelled with a beaten earth surface and crossed by a small road built from rounded pieces of limestone, of which a small area was preserved.