Open Conference Systems, Kainua 2017

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Contemporary Landscape and Archaeological Record. An Integrated Approach for the Study of the Etruscan-Samnite Site of Pontecagnano (SA)
Carmine Pellegrino, Amedeo Rossi

Last modified: 2016-11-25


Pontecagnano is a large etruscan-samnite settlement located 8 km south-east of Salerno, in the northern edge of the Sele plain. The well-investigated necropolis, where over 10000 tombs dated from the ninth to the third century BC have been excavated, have allowed us to analyse the structure of ancient community and to reconstruct the development of the ancient community over a long period of time.

In the last few years, after the archaeological investigations for widening the highway SA-RC, a more systematic study of the site has begun. The analysis of archaeological data has been combined with environmental and landscape studies, which have allowed us to understand the reasons behind the spatial organisation of the settlement.

The site is only apparently flat. The ancient town and the necropolis appear to be planned to take advantage of certain specific landscape features. The residential area occupies the upper zone of a travertine plateau that is elevated in comparison with the surrounding plain and articulated from north-east to south-west in a series of small terraces. On the sides, the plateau is delimited by depressions in which surface water flowed. Cemeteries are located around the town: their spatial organisation and development are conditioned by natural geomorphological or man-made landscape elements such as streams, non-uniform dislocation of geological formations, terraces, roads, canals, etc.

The aim of the work is to show the methods and instruments we used to create a system that can dynamically combine archaeological and geomorphological data. We have a wide range of aerial photos (infrared also), covering the area starting from WWII, in addiction to satellite images. The paper focuses particularly on the reconstruction of paleo-topographical areas of the ancient settlement. The investigation has allowed to outline the physical and environmental limits in which the old town developed, especially as regards the archaic and classical period. Part of the work has been devoted to reconstruct in detail the joints of the modern and ancient landscape not only through reading and interpretation of the aerial photographs from 1945 to date, but also through the documentation from the excavations. This approach allowed to draw up a detailed geomorphologic map of the area of the ancient settlement - part of the GIS platform - and the development of a three-dimensional model of the soil (DEM).