The research concerns Roman urbanization in central Apennines, since pre-Roman times, and few questions connected with this topic.
The inner Appennine area was characterized by rather rough morphology and the Roman intervention strategy has been cautious and delayed compared to other areas of the peninsula. Peltuinum was founded on the 1st cent. BC and lasts till Late Antiquity, when a violent earthquake causes the end of the town system and people turned to gather into small scattered settlements as it was in pre-Roman times. Based on the recovered data, every year the investigation expands from topographic and urban sphere to other fields: geological, economic, religious, and anthropological (cultural, physical).
The results of the research every year allow a wider view of ancient local reality, showing the passage from the micro to the macro-history.
Both the peculiar geographical position and the geoidrological characteristics, since the Prehistoric age defined the site as a safe stop point for humans and flocks. For this reason the city had a long life as trade center in Italy sheep tracks.
After the 5th cent. AD seismic event, though losing the demographical and urban consistency , the settlement maintains the sheeptrack function in the Middle Ages, in the Renaissance and up to the fifties of the last century (the end of transhumance).
The analysis of the subsequent structural phases allows to retrace not only the social and economic history of the area, but also the series of earthquakes which had heavy consequences on the regional and even Rome architectural history. The research on ancient earthquakes and on the following reconstruction has opened up other investigation topics. Particularly relevant is the one concerning the actual seismic situation: the archaeological data of the 5th cent. earthquake in Peltuinum matches with other data in inner Abruzzo region, helping to draw times and repeating of earthquakes aiming to seismic research.
One of the most innovative aspect of the research was the discovery of human and faunal remains in the shafts used for the mechanism lifting and lowering the curtain in the Roman theatre. This peculiar topic has been the subject of attention by archaeo-anthropolgists, due to the fact that discoveries in Peltuinum are unique in documented infant burials, even because there are also foals clearly deposited in ritual sacrifice. In archaeological sphere, the combination of human fetuses and newborns dogs can be closely compared to the findings in Kolonos Agoraios Athens (II cent. BC) and in the agora of Messene (III sec. BC), though infants and dogs are together in late antiques tombs in Lugnano in Teverina too (but in a traditional grave typology).
Another hit is having documented infant burials. In fact, despite the reference models for pre-industrial populations foresee an infant mortality ranging from 30% up to 70%, the necropolises very rarely yield these percentages. Several casual factors are responsible for this phenomenon, such as the lower grade of mineralization of the growing skeletons, post-depositional processes, partial excavations and recoveries of the skeletal material; but the key role is played by the cultural choices involving different funerary rituals - in terms of burial typology and location for the infants than the general population.
Few other interesting aspects of the research are significant from the anthropological and social point of view: the system of subsequent depositions (progressive accumulation according to attritional pattern of the deaths), the number of infants (about 100) and the evidence that animals were sacrificed for the infants. The findings interpretation is complex and osteological analysis must be carried on for all the elements, as the completion of structural, archaeological, anthropological data is fundamental to the debate progress which opens new interpretations on Roman Italy society in the transition to the Middle Ages.
Interesting results have been achieved in the field of ancient architecture too: Roman public buildings show the persistent use of old techniques due to the use of local limestone. The findings confirm, therefore, the exploitation of the "KM 0" resources, characterizing the ergonomics of a large part of the Roman State.
Peltuinum is also an interesting case study for the topic of the transformation of the public spaces in Late Antiquity. After the abandonment of Roman tradition and the consequent dismantling of the urban buildings, the wide open areas of towns turn to different activities being invaded by workshops or cultivated allotments.
Also the Renaissance structures, related to the reuse of ancient materials, show amazing devices considering the function which they were intended to have: sheltering workers exploiting the theatre ruins as a quarry for material to be used in the construction of the nearby rural church of St. Paul.
This area provided a careful analysis, based on stratigraphic data, of a dismantling site of a big Roman building and its connection to a construction site of a church.
Moreover, the excavation leads to an advancement of knowledge in other fields too: the economy of a mountainous region - where the subsistence economy was undoubtedly difficult to sustain - involved in Imperial interests through cattle moving managing. Starting from Claudius works on the close area of Fucinus lake getting to Flavians and Domitian involving in agricultural properties.
A stone that was discovered in the course of the research (the inscription on the stone belongs to the third century AD) attests the passage of the flocks within the city, as indeed happens also in Saepinum and Tibur. Moreover, the stratigraphy of the various layers of Via Claudia Nova show a very prolonged use of the sheep track crossing the city.
Another interesting topic is the consideration of the high organizing level of the reign of Emperor Claudius: in central Apennines his works expand beyond the Fucino boundaries and precise the Emperor operational reference to the figure of Caesar. In fact, ancient sources connect both Claudius and Caesar to improving the Apennines area, where the subsistence economy was undoubtedly difficult to sustain and, on the contrary, could help in providing wheat supply for Roman population (think to the problems hitting Rome due to the famine of 42 AD).