Artena, Lazio

La Civita di Artena lies 1km south of the town of Artena, at the north end of the Monti Lepini range and is around 50km south east of Rome. Having been first systematically considered by Ashby and Pfeiffer (1905), who provided a plan and photographs of some of the remains, the site has a long history of research. The town walls, roads, gates and a variety of internal settlement features, such as the large terrace, were surveyed by Quilici (1982) and a Belgian team have also undertaken a series of excavations throughout the territory of the settlement (Lambrechts 1983; 1989; 1996). More recently, research has concentrated on the Roman villa and other post-Roman structures located on the large terraced area of the site (Brouillard and Gadeyne 2003; 2006) and this has culminated in a reasonably good understanding of the development of the site through time, yet the extent to which archaeological remains are present elsewhere on this terrace was not known and thus a geophysical survey was conducted in an attempt to explore this area further.

View of the villa at Artena


The survey was carried out in October 2010 at the request of Dr Jan Gadeyne and Dr Cécile Brouillard. The specific survey area was located immediately surrounding the excavated area of the Villa, which is located on the large terrace in the middle of the northern section of the settlement and was aimed at better understanding this area.  The geophysical techniques chosen to explore this were magnetometer and electrical resistance surveys.

The combination of the two geophysical techniques employed on this site was highly rewarding. The integrated survey methodology enabled the definition of different buried features by providing complementary information regarding the nature of the remains. Moreover, in many cases this provided additional information which simply could not be achieved through the application of one technique.

A number of archaeological features were identified and perhaps the most significant and dominant of these were the series of masonry walls which form the edge of the southern boundary of the survey. These linear anomalies are clearly represented as high resistance anomalies in the resistivity data. The orientation of these features, perpendicular and parallel to the large terrace wall, hints at a series of earth retaining walls, designed to create and support the terrace itself.

In addition to this several other potential structures were located in the survey results, both on the alignment of the third century BC terrace as well as some examples which appear not to respect this. As a result it is likely that there are a assortment of structures located on the Large terrace at La Civita di Artena , which relate to a variety of chronological periods, potentially ranging from the third century BC to the Late Antique and Early Mediaeval period. Thus, the findings of this survey have provided a clearer picture of the scale, form and layout of the archaeological remains in this area.

Further Reading

Brouillard, C. and Gadeyne, J. (2003) La villa romana del Piano della Civita ad Artena, in J. Rasmus Brandt, X. Dupré Raventós, G. Ghini (a cura di), Lazio & Sabina, 1, Atti del Convegno (28-30 gennaio 2002, Roma), Roma: 61-64

Brouillard, C. and Gadeyne, J.( 2006), La villa romana del Piano della Civita ad Artena. Nuovi dati dalle campagne di scavo del 2002-2004, in: Lazio e Sabina III, Roma: 223-226.

Lambrechts, R. (1983) Artena 1: Rapports et Etudes, Bruxelles-Roma.

Lambrechts, R. (1989), Artena 2: Rapports et Etudes, Bruxelles-Roma.

Lambrechts, R. (1996), Artena 3: Un “mundus” sur le Piano della Civita?, Bruxelles-Roma.

Quilici, L. (1982), La Civita di Artena, (Latium Vetus, IV), Roma.