The Excavation of the Latin Site of Ficana, zona 6b

  • Pietilä-Castrén, Leena (Project manager)
  • Gjostein Resi, Heid (Participant)
  • Wenn, Camilla Cecilie (Participant)
  • Berg, Ria (Participant)
  • Pennonen, Anne-Maria (Participant)

Project Details

Description (abstract)

The Latin village of Ficana in the mouth of river Tiber is known as one of the villages destroyed by King Ancus Marcius in the late 7th century BC. This historical tradition, referenced in Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus among others, was one of the aspects that the joint Italo-Nordic archaeological project set out to research during five field campaigns in 1976-1981, within the larger framework of mapping the Iron Age sites of Latium Vetus. As principle archaeologist, my task was to direct the excavation and publish the emerging structures, the Mid-Republican pottery groups, the bronze objects and the minor terracottas.
It was on the hill of Monte Cugno, immediately South of River Tiber and some kilometres East of Ostia, that ancient Ficana was identified during surveys in the early 1970s and by field work on the necropolis in 1975. The Iron Age site lay on the eastern edge of the hill, from where it spread out beyond the agger, the Archaic earth-wall, to the flat hill plateau. It fell to me to study one part of this plateau, zona 6b, in order to investigate the extension, development and chronology of the settlement and its relationship to the zones inside the agger. In zona 6b the early inhabitants had left traces of their presence as pits, perhaps as receptacles of domestic waste, from the 7th century (the late phase of the Latial IVA period). The site was not, however, abandoned after this date, and life continued until the 3rd century BC (the Mid-Republican period). This prolonged occupation is shown by two infants’ tombs, and a series of long radiating walls with angular constructions and channels. These walls were constructed in various techniques, and were further adapted to the contours of the terrain and repaired with new techniques. One last stretch of the longest wall was made in ashlar masonry in ca. 300 BC, after which the central open area was filled. These walls were hardly of a defensive nature, but functioned rather as practical enclosures, as terracing or marking spatial divisions within the settlement.
The finds demonstrate the presence of traditional women’s activities (loom-weights, spindle whorls), bronze objects which can be connected to wool and leather, and even metallurgy on a small scale. The exceptional amounts of coarse ware and roof tiles suggest local production, for which water was procured through the channel system. The community’s contacts to the outer world were testified by bronze fibulae, which connected the local inhabitants to trade networks in the other centres of Latium, northern Italy and even beyond. Religious contacts seem to have been with Campetti near Veii, where Apollo and Ceres were worshiped as healers.
The site was still occasionally visited in the Augustan era and even later, in connection with the construction of a Roman latifundium in the vicinity.
The research group of zona 6b consists of Prof. Heid Gjostein Resi from the University of Oslo, who also participated in the field work and is responsible for the study of the roof tiles. Since 2006, during the preparation of the publication, the group was joined by Camilla Cecilie Wenn, MA, from the University of Oslo, who studied the dark coarse ware, by Anne-Maria Pennonen, MA, from the University of Helsinki, who studied the bucchero pottery, and by PhD Ria Berg, from the University of Helsinki, who studied the terra sigillata. The publication of the site in the series Scavi di Ficana vol. 3, fasc. 1 is due in 2011.
Effective start/end date01/01/197631/12/2009

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • Classical archaeology