Open Conference Systems, Kainua 2017

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Misenum. The harbour and the city: landscapes in context
Gervasio Illiano

Last modified: 2017-03-21


The interest of the archaeological research for the Phlegraean Fields, in the Gulf of Naples, has been often concentrated on different topics: monumental architecture, thermalism, coastal otium villas. However, there is a lack of a reasonable reconstruction of ancient landscapes of the area with special regard to the peninsula between Baiae and Misenum. The recent starting of a PhD project at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has had as a first point the task of filling a gap in the local modern archaeology, shifting the level of analysis from the "site" to that of "territory": the study of individual monuments and surviving archaeological assemblages of the Roman town of Misenum - headquarter harbour for the Imperial navy, the classis praetoria Misenas - is now functional to the investigation of the urban organization of the municipium, analysing its landscape features and settlement components. The use of a dynamic and multidisciplinary research strategy, that has joined archives and bibliography survey with difficult field surveys, has lead to the creation of a new archaeological map for the investigated area. Furthermore, geophysical surveys with the use of georadar and geo-electrical technologies over the area near the military port and the town centre has implemented the data available, contributing - for the very first time - toward a better and deeper understanding of the organization of the harbour district, in relation with the political and civic core of the Roman Misenum. Thanks to GIS applications it is now possible to launch an analytical examination of the urban fabric within the Misenum peninsula. On one hand, it has been possible to enlarge the amount of information at our disposal and, on the other hand, to propose a panorama of landscape dynamics for the Misenum territory whose massive amount of archaeological evidences appear to be extremely fragmented by human (modern urbanization) and natural factors (bradiseysm). The recent research, indeed, raised new questions about the settlement process in the Misenum peninsula: public centre, harbour quarter, coastal villas, road network, necropolis, water management infrastructures, suburb and periphery are the main element of the ancient urban landscape that are emerging underneath the modern one.