Open Conference Systems, Kainua 2017

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Pyrgi, harbour and sanctuary of Caere: landscape, urbanistic planning and architectural features
Laura Maria Michetti, Maria Paola Baglione, Barbara Belelli Marchesini, Claudia Carlucci

Last modified: 2016-11-26


The overall investigation of the different districts of an Etruscan settlement is an extremely rare circumstance. The study of the urbanistic asset of Pyrgi's settlement (only partially overlapped by the Roman Colony and the Medieval Castle) and of the arrangement of the sacred areas is favoured by their abandonment after the phase of Romanization and by the possibility of performing large-scale research over its territory.

The harbour and the sanctuary of Pyrgi were a fundamental pole of attraction for foreign haunters as the outpost of the metropolis Caere. Their development was strictly linked to Pyrgi's favourable geographic position along the Tyrrhenian maritime routes and to the presence of a water spring. The settlement was founded at the end of the 7th century, and was connected to Caere by means of a large road, comparable to the one linking Athens to the Piraeus.

The excavations conducted since 1957 by the Sapienza University next to the terminal trait of the Caere-Pyrgi road have brought to light a large sacred district, including the Monumental Sanctuary of Uni-Astarte and a demetriac cult place-the most ancient so far known in Etruria- dedicated to the couple of deities Suri and Cavatha.

The new excavation area (2009-2016) falls in the district between the Sanctuary and the settlement. It includes different buildings (600 BC - 4th century BC) - some of them provided with decorated roofs -erected along a pebbled road that departs from the Caere-Pyrgi and leads towards the harbour. The buildings, together with votive deposits and a fire-altar, outline a residential quarter that was maybe attended by priesthood, where ceremonial practices were also performed. The new evidence can be related to the Sanctuary itself, shedding light on its overall organisation, according to the same model of the main emporic sanctuaries of the Mediterranean. The results of recent fieldwork are also contributing to a better knowledge of Pyrgi's urban asset (viability, cadastral divisions and functions of plots), possible defensive systems (evocated by the Greek name "Pyrgoi") and the topographic relation with the later Roman maritime colony.

Thanks to the involvement of scholars from different disciplinary fields, a wide-range research about the territory of Pyrgi is being carried out to reconstruct the original landscape and the evolution of the coastline on a large scale and in detail, as to figure out the morphology of the littoral and the harbour in the Etruscan period.