Carsulae

Carsulae is an ancient Roman town situated in the region of Umbria in central Italy, on a plateau crossed by the western branch of the Via Flaminia which path travelled through the town. Its urban development began in the 2nd century BC when indigenous communities moved and joined together, thereby facilitating the Romanisation of Umbria. The town became a Roman municipium of the tribus Clustumina in the middle of the 1st century BC when a number of major works were initiated, including the amphitheatre and most of the forum.

Coordinates: 42° 38′ 23.25″ N, 12° 33′ 25.75″ E

Carsulae was first mentioned in the surviving sources by Strabo in the late 1st century BC.

The cities this side the Apennine Mountains that are worthy of mention are: first, on the Flaminian Way itself: Ocricli, near the Tiber and theº Larolon, and Narna, through which the Nar River flows (it meets the Tiber a little above Ocricli, and is navigable, though only for small boats); then, Carsuli, and Mevania, past which flows the Teneas. Strabo Geography 5:2:10

Carsulae probably originated as a mansio, a rest stop and watering place for travellers, traders and soldiers along the Via Flaminia. The road was constructed for military purposes by the censor Gaius Flaminius in 220 BC. It ran from Rome to the Adriatic coast and then turned north towards the colony of Ariminum (Rimini). Its path travelled through Carsulae and became the cardo maximus, the north-south street of the town running between the forum and the amphitheatre and theatre.

3D reconstruction of the town.

During its golden age, Carsulae, supported by agricultural activity in the surrounding area, was prosperous and wealthy. Its bucolic setting, its large complex of thermal mineral baths and other public amenities, attracted wealthy and even middle class “tourists” from Rome.

Recovered inscriptions document the vibrant civic life of Carsuale until at least the reign of Emperor Vespasian who camped here in AD 69 as he prepared to march on Rome to secure the Imperial title for his master (Tac. Hist. 3. 60)

The city lost its importance when the western branch of Via Flaminia fell into disuse at the end of the 3rd century AD in favour of its faster east branch. Carsulae was abandoned in the middle of the 4th century AD, perhaps after an earthquake, and its people probably moved to nearby San Gemini. However, a church was built in the 11th century on the foundations of a Roman building many centuries after the site had been abandoned.

Excavations at the site unearthed a large number of monuments, buildings and inscriptions, forming a picture of a wealthy and politically active municipium. However, the town has still not been completely brought back to life and excavations are still underway. The excavations are conducted by Emerita Professor Jane Whitehead of Valdosta State University, USA.

PORTFOLIO

The amphitheatre and the theatre, located on the eastern side of the town.
The amphitheatre was partially built into a natural cavity in the ground. It is thought to date back to the first century AD.
The theatre was entirely reconstructed above the ground and was dated before the amphitheatre.
The cavea of the theatre was supported by 15 vaulted rooms.
The remains of the scaena of the theatre.
There are four cisterns in Carsulae: two are in the north and upstream of the thermal system (one has now been transformed in Antiquarium). The others are in the north of the amphitheatre and in the south of the theatre.
The cardo maximus, the main or central north–south-oriented street crossing the municipium. The arch on the left, which was recently reconstructed, marked the entrance to the forum.
The northern four-sided arch (tetrapylon) marking the entrance to the Forum, it is located at the intersection of the main two roads (decumanus & cardo maximus), built in opus quadratum made in block of solid limestone.
The Forum, facing the west side of the urban road route of the Via Flaminia with the so-called twin temples, of which only the podiums lined with pink stone slabs remain. The access of the temples was by a flight of steps partly reconstructed: the lack of ancient sources make difficult the identification of the divine couple.
The northern side of the Forum consisted on four apsidal rectangular rooms: the largest one is identified with the Curia (the Seat of the municipal senate), the smallest ones were for the administrative and political activities. Marble decorations are visible.
Overview of the Forum.
As of 2017, the excavation at Carsulae is led by Massimiliano Gasperini and Luca Donnini, with the involvement of the Australian Carsulae Archaeology Project from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
The Forum.
Fragments from a statue of Claudius (ca. 50 AD). This colossal statue (twice life-size) stood in the forum of Carsulae (Umbria, Italy). Only the head and a knee survive.
The excavations of 2012 – 2014 brought to light a well-preserved paved floor as well as different wall structures commercial uses and a cistern. The first building phase is of the 2nd century BC with some modifications dated back to the Augustan Age.
The Via Flaminia went through the town (north–south axis) and became the main road or the cardo maximus of which 400 metres are still visible.
The so-called San Damiano Arch was build during the reign of Augustus. The arch was located at the northern entrance of the town. It was originally an arch with three fornices (the two lateral minor ones have collapsed).
Three funeral monuments that belong to the prestigious Carsulae’s families stood outside the town boundaries. Two are restored and dated back between the 1st century BC and the 1stI century AD.
The first is a drum shaped funeral tomb on a rectangular base.
The second mausoleum is of tower type on a rectangular base. The cylindrical body has skylights and above a Doric frieze.
The Church of S. Cosma and Damiano was built in the XI century using a pre-existent building whose function is uncertain and dated between the 1st and the 2nd century AD.
The Church of S. Cosma and Damiano was built, like the portico, using many building materials of the Roman period.
The interior of the Church of S. Cosma and Damiano.

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Banasa

Banasa was an ancient city of the province of Mauretania Tingitana in modern-day Morocco, situated on the road from Tingis to Sala. Its ruins are located on the southern bank of the river Sebou which Pliny (5.5) described as “Sububus magnificus et nauigabilis” (a fine river available for navigation). Banasa was one of the three coloniae in Mauretania Tingitana founded by the emperor Augustus between 33 and 27 BC for veterans of the battle of Actium.

Coordinates: 34° 36′ 6″ N, 6° 6′ 56″ W

The site appears to have been occupied as early as the 4th century BC by pottery workers whose activities continued until the 1st century BC. The Banasa potters produced characteristic painted wares inspired by the Phoenician, Greek and Ibero-Punic models that were exported rather widely in the region. A Mauretanian village of some size stood there in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC and it was on this site that Augustus established the veterans’ colony Iulia Valentia Banasa.

At the start of the reign of Marcus Aurelius, Banasa became Colonia Aurelia Banasa. In 285 AD, the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana was reduced to the territories located north of the Lixus and Banasa was abandoned.

The archaeological excavations undertaken between 1933 and 1956 exposed the remains of the Roman era. The buildings uncovered include a forum flanked to the north by a rectangular basilica, a temple with 6 cellae, public baths, a macellum as well as streets in a regular pattern. Shops, oil-making installations and several bakeries have also been uncovered. Many of the buildings date from the early 3rd century AD. Beautiful mosaics decorated the buildings which are now shown at the Rabat Archaeological Museum.

The epigraphical documents found at Banasa are exceptionally rich, the bronze inscriptions being especially noteworthy. An important legal text, the Tabula Banasitana (see image here), dating from the period of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus was unearthed in 1957 in the East Baths complex. This inscribed bronze plaque, now in the Museum of Antiquities in Rabat, deals with a conferment of citizenship under Marcus Aurelius on 6 July AD 177; at his own request, Iulianus, a princeps of the Zegrensi tribe, and his family are granted Roman citizenship for extraordinary service (maxima merita), without prejudice to his tribal rights (salvo iure gentis). Another bronze inscription from Banasa deals with the edict of Caracalla exempting the inhabitants of Banasa from taxes in 216 AD.

PORTFOLIO

The trapezoidal paved forum (37 x 34 m). It was lined to the west and the east by porticoes and flanked to the north by a rectangular basilica, to the east by a small apsidal hall, and to the south by six cellae fronted by a common portico.
The forum.
The six cellae standing on a podium in front of which is a row of stone plinths and statue bases.
Statue base for Marcus Terentius Primulus, freedman, 3rd century AD.
The forum.
The forum.
The ruins of the rectangular basilica to the north of the forum.

The ruins of the public baths.
The public baths.
Detail of a mosaic found in the public baths depicting a triton, animals and shells. On display in the Museum of Volubilis.
The public baths.

The shops.
View of the forum.

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