Project background

The Pontine Region Project

The ‘Minor Centers’ project focuses on the Pontine region, situated c. 60 km south of Rome in Lazio, Central Italy. The Pontine region consists of a coastal plain, which is bounded the Alban Hills and the Lepini and Ausoni Mountains.


The Pontine region with main sites and previously surveyed areas indicated in red

The project constitutes a new phase in GIA’s long-running Pontine Region Project (PRP). This project started in the late 1980s as a side project to the Dutch excavations at Satricum, aiming to place the development of this Iron Age/Archaic settlement in its regional context. Soon, however, the PRP developed into an independent research project.

 Over the years, the PRP has shifted its geographical and chronological focus several times. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, intensive site surveys and extensive field surveys were conducted on the edge of the Lepini Mountains and in the adjacent Pontine plain, north of the Via Appia.[1] This fieldwork was intended to shed light on processes of centralisation in the late Iron Age and Archaic period, and on the impact of urbanisation and Roman colonisation on the region in the Republican period.

In the mid-1990s, the project widened its geographical scope to parts of the Alban Hills and the Sacco valley to the north.[2] Intensive field surveys were applied to study the impact of Roman colonisation on the hinterlands of Setia, Lanuvium and Signia. The surveys used a more intensive method that accommodated comparative analysis between the three case studies. At the same time, surveys on the edge of the Lepine Mountains near ancient Norba and in the catchment of Satricum continued.[3]

In the late 1990s, the project again shifted its focus, now to the northern part of the coastal landscape of the Pontine plain. Surveys in the ‘marginal’ area around Lake Fogliano used a new, even more intensive gridded approach.[4] Following these field surveys, the PRP between 2001 and 2003, excavated several protohistoric and Roman sites on the coast south of Nettuno.[5] As part of a mapping project commissioned by the municipality of Nettuno, intensive field surveys in the territory of this municipality and in the adjacent Astura valley followed in 2003, 2004 and 2005.[6]

Recent research by the PRP includes both period-based, synthetic research and new geo-archaeological studies. PhD projects have studied the regional settlement history of protohistory, the Roman and Medieval period.[7] As a part of these projects, new field surveys have been undertaken in the coastal zone, but also in the lower Pontine plain and the Lepini Mountains.[8]

[1] Attema 1993.
[2] Attema & Van Leusen 2004a.
[3] Van Leusen 1998; Drost 1997.
[4] Attema, van Joolen & van Leusen 1999/2000; Attema, de Haas & la Rosa 2003/2004.
[5] Attema, de Haas & Nijboer 2003.
[6] Attema, Feiken, de Haas & Tol 2007/2008; Attema, de Haas & Tol 2009/2010.
[7] Alessandri 2009; De Haas 2011; Tol 2012; Satijn forthcoming.
[8] For work in the Lepine Mountains, see Van Leusen & Feiken 2007; Feiken forthcoming.