Custode Silvio Fioriello, Francis Tassaux (eds), I paesaggi costieri dell’Adriatico tra Antichita e Altomedioevo: Atti della Tavola Rotonda di Bari, 22–23 maggio 2017, Ausonius Editions, Bordeaux, 2019 | Book review
- Custode Silvio Fioriello and Francis Tassaux (eds) 2019. I paesaggi costieri dell’Adriatico tra Antichita e Altomedioevo: Atti della Tavola Rotonda di Bari, 22–23 maggio 2017, Scripta Antiqua, 119; Serie AdriAtlas, 2; Bordeaux 2019; Ausonius Editions.
This conference volume collects the proceedings of a round table held at the University of Bari in 2017, organized by different European universities and research institutions that collaborate in the ‘AdriAtlas Project’ (www.adriaticummare.org). This international project coordinated by the École française de Rome and the Ausonius Institute of the University of Bordeaux Montaigne, and supported by institutes from Albania, Croatia, France, Italy and Slovenia, develops since 2007 an open source web-GIS based atlas of historical-archaeological evidence relating to the whole Adriatic coast and its wider hinterland, and defined according to the chronological arc that runs between Protohistory and the Early Middle Ages. The collaboration with many institutes and researchers aims at facilitating and soliciting knowledge of the archaeological heritage of both Adriatic sides, thus promoting not only forms of specialized study among the scientific community, but also dynamics of widespread understanding, identity awareness and sustainable management among local communities.
The present volume, the second in the AdriAtlas Series, contains a variety of scholarly contributions from current research projects on the Adriatic coastal regions presented at the Bari conference under the title ‘I paesaggi costieri dell’Adriatico tra Antichita e Altomedioevo’. They include the discussion of archaeological finds and features, epigraphic and written sources as well as geomorphological and palaeo-ecological analyses, often studied on an interdisciplinary basis. The volume is subdivided in four sections, focusing respectively on landscape change, research history and archaeological research management, settlement dynamics and exploitation of the landscape, and finally connections and communication.
The first section on landscape change contains only one contribution, namely on sea-level changes. The research group around M.-B. CARRE (pp. 15-24) uses piscinae and vivaria found on the Istrian coastline near Parentium to sharpen the discussion around sea level change since Roman times. They show that the linking of archaeological data to geomorphological conditions and biological characteristics is of crucial importance for refining existing interpretations about these important phenomena.
With three contributions the second section, public presentation of and involvement in historical landscapes, is somewhat heterogeneous. R. PERNA (pp. 27-53) discusses, on the basis of his work on the archaeological sites of Vrbs Salvia (Marche) and Hadrianopolis and Antigonea (Albania), the crucial integration of cultural and archaeological heritage in modern urban and spatial planning. L. PERZHITA (pp. 55–66) provides a useful overview of the history of archaeological research in Albania, on sites from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages. While P. PERFIDO and G. CUCCI (pp. 67-73) provide insights into a more user friendly application currently under development by the AdriAtlas team.
The third section, covering the main focus of the conference proceedings, consists of nine contributions to the settlement history and use of resources in the coastal regions of the Adriatic. Here the geographic and chronological diversity of the presented studies demonstrate well the palimpsest of regional diversity and diachronic evolutions the complex landscapes of the Adriatic have undergone before, during and shortly after Classical Antiquity.
Three papers focus on areas in the north of the Adriatic. J. HORVAT (pp. 77-95) examines the distribution and great variety of Roman and other settlement sites in the mountainous terrain between the Gulf of Trieste, eastern Istria and the Danube basin, linked by two main communication routes between Aquileia , Emona and Tarsatia. The very intensive historical-archaeological investigation by M.S. BUSANA (pp. 97-114) of a rural area outside ancient Altinum and the laguna of Venice allows us to better understand the strategies employed by the inhabitants of the peri-coastal area over time to use and transform the environment in function of the changing political and economic conditions between the Iron Age and Late Antiquity. In a southern area of this Po-delta, between Ravenna and Rimini, D. RIGATO and M. VITELLI CASELLA (pp. 115-34) analyse a series of Roman epigraphic finds, reflecting on the geomorphological processes at work in these areas and on the economic activities (e.g. production of wine and ceramic building materials) connected with the different landscape units.
The next five articles deal with the Apulian coastal regions. M. L. MARCHI (pp. 135–48) zooms in on the crucial 4th and 3rd centuries BC, when major transformations in settlement centres and new urban forms take shape in the northern part of that region. Striking is the observation about the many different trajectories taken by Daunian centralized sites shortly before and during the phases of Roman colonisation of the coastal area and the inland territories. C.S.FIORIELLO and A. MANGIATORDI (pp. 149-81), on the other hand, present a well-documented synthesis on 31 settlements, integrating literary, epigraphic, archaeological and palaeo-ecological data to highlight agro-silvo-pastoral production processes (including olive oil and wool production) in coastal Roman Apulia. The recent discovery of settlement sites from the Bronze and Iron Age, as well Classical Antiquity, on the coast and inland of southern Salento are the focus of the article by G. MASTRONUZZI and R. CALDAROLA (pp. 183-207). This includes stratigraphic investigations of controlling tower-like buildings from the 4th-3rd century BC in the Messapian hinterland. M. L. DAMBROSIO and G. SCHIAVARIELLO (pp. 209-18) outline the chronological development of the settlement site and territory of Teanum Apulum (near the Gargano) providing new insights into ancient agricultural processes in the region. M. PELLEGRINO (pp. 219-29) looks at the processes of sea ingression in the Trani coastal area, north of Bari, and deals with burial sites from the 3rd – 1st millennium BC. Finally, the coastal area near Monopoli and Fasano, north-west of Brindisi, is the subject of the paper by R. ROTONDO (pp. 231-42), who synthesises knowledge about rupestrian settlements between Late Antiquity and the later Middle Ages.
The fourth section of this volume is dedicated to communication and the relationship between roads, rivers and ports on and near the eastern Adriatic coast. In the first contribution, P. BASSO (pp. 245-60) uses the example of her work in Gazzo Veronese to discuss land and river connections between the coast and the inland territories of the Po plain. This fine topographic study includes recent research results on the course of the via Claudia Augusta and the very large necropolis areas along the transport arteries. M. C. MANCINI (pp. 261-79) presents a short synthesis of work by different entities in the coastal region of Abruzzo, focusing on archaeological discoveries of a series of ancient port facilities and epigraphic evidence about connections via sea routes. This is further deepened in the contribution by M. M. S. NUOVO (pp. 277-99) who focuses on several estuaries between Apulia and the Marches, giving insight into the diversity of different port facilities. The diversity of these facilities is much conditioned by the natural environment and certain solutions for landing boats are being compared with post-medieval and modern solutions elsewhere in Europe. The landscape between Bari and Otranto is the focus of M.MASCOLO’s paper (pp. 301-20) which deals with the spread of Jewish motifs and symbols in Late Antiquity as proof of economic and cultural travel, but also of certain migration movements. In the last contribution, D. SAGGSE (pp. 321-32) discusses the ancient wool production in the coastal regions of Apulia, especially in Roman Imperial times. This paper includes information about a fullonica from the 1st century AD in Canosa and potential tanneries at Lucera , Gravina di Puglia and Salapia.
The 18 contributions by 30 authors are written predominantly in Italian, with two papers using French or English. The volume is very well illustrated, with a good number of drawings, distribution maps and photos presented in colour. At the back of the volume indexes of ancient authors, epigraphic findings and geographic locations facilitate consultation. There is sadly a clear geographical unbalance between the majority of papers dealing with the underrepresented eastern coast of the Adriatic and the well-covered Italian side, although archaeological institutes active since many years with excellent research on and near the Italian coast (e.g. universities of Bologna, Ghent, Pisa…) are not present in the volume. Some work could have been achieved by the editors in enhancing the scientific value of the volume, such as inserting an abstract in the presented papers, and most of all, in presenting some major conclusions to the volume as a whole.
Overall, the present conference volume represents a valuable step in current interdisciplinary research projects along the Adriatic coasts. It contributes in a significant way to scholarly debate on the complex developments, conditions and peculiarities of coastal and near-coastal sites and exploitations in the Adriatic, and stresses the importance of communications with the hinterland. The latter is much influenced by the geomorphological conditions and changes over time of the coastal area, such as can be noticed in the difference between the access to the hinterland in the flat and open Po area with its many waterways, and the central and some southern parts of Adriatic Italy where the Apennine mountains and watershed forms a significant barrier for communication and transport connections with the Tyrrhenian part of the peninsula.