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The University of Southampton
ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Research project: Peltuinum

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Falling into the broad research theme of landscapes and urbanscapes, the project at Peltuinum aims to map the Roman town and contextualise existing findings. A pilot season, in order to test the capabilities of two methods of geophysical survey: gradiometer and ground-penetrating radar (GPR), was undertaken by a joint APSS and BSR team in 2012.

Peltuinum lies in the heart of the Abruzzo, just southeast of L'Aquila. The Roman settlement stands on a ridge overlooking the stunning Aterno valley. The Roman colony was founded in the second half the first century BC which is relatively late compared to other colonies. The ridge is bisected by the via Claudia Nova and at its west end are the standing remains of the monumental Roman gateway. Excavations have been carried out in earnest by La Sapienza University in Rome (directed by Prof. P. Sommella and more recently by Prof.ssa L. Migliorati) and have concentrated on the Temple of Apollo and the theatre complex which lie adjacent to each other in the south of the town.

Our integrated geophysical survey concentrated in the central northern portion of the town where there had been sightings of crop marks delineating walls and roads in tandem with discoveries from small excavations. The gradiometer results clearly reveal a glimpse of the orthogonal layout of the road system, on a northeast-southwest alignment, and between them, a series of rectilinear structures. The notable lack of perpendicular roads is apparent.

Two test areas were covered with GPR based on findings in the results of the gradiometer survey and the results provided a clearer, more detailed image of the buried archaeology. The GPR survey was, however, hampered by the detection of plough lines but this led directly to a successful collaboration between the APSS/BSR and Dean Goodman, the creator of the processing software, GPRSlice, to create a means of processing out this effect from the data. This new application is now available to all users of the software and our data from Peltuinum has been cited as an example in a soon to be published book: "GPR Remote Sensing in Archaeology" authored by Dean Goodman and Salvatore Piro.

The project is currently funded by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Abruzzo.

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