Hostname: page-component-7d684dbfc8-d9hj2 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-09-30T17:19:34.874Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForArticlePurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForBookPurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForElementPurchase": false, "coreUseNewShare": true, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

‘Buried Landscapes’ in Southern Italy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015


It is widely known that war-time air photography has led to the discovery of many new archaeological sites of importance in Mediterranean lands. Many hundreds of tumuli have been added to the list, at such famous Etruscan cemeteries as Cerveteri and Tarquinia and complete systems of Roman land-partition by Centuriation have been identified round the coloniae of Iader and Salonae, on the shores of Dalmatia. But by far the most notable discoveries of all are those on the Foggia Plain, in the Province of Apulia, in Southeast Italy. Great numbers of Prehistoric, Roman, and Medieval sites are being identified, and some preliminary results have already been published in ANTIQUITY(' Siticulosa Apulia ', December 1946). Select examples were exhibited at the Classical Conference at Oxford and at the British Association Meeting, in 1948, and again for several months this year, in the Ashmolean Museum. These were chosen from a number which it was fortunately possible to acquire for the University of Oxford, now housed at the Pitt Rivers Museum, where they are being studied in detail. This collection was based on vertical photographs taken by the Royal Air Force, and oblique photographs taken by Major Williams-Hunt and myself (which were the first to reveal this dense concentration of sites, spread more thickly on the ground than almost anywhere else in Europe). This heavy concentration is of much more than local importance. During the last few years I have examined many thousands of air photographs of Southern and Central Europe taken at various seasons, in the course of my research. While these provide much interesting data and give us, as it were, an illustrated ' Domesday ' survey of Europe in the middle of the 20th century (of capital value to Anthropology), in no other area has there as yet been anything approaching the quantity of crop-marks, grass-marks, soil-marks and earthworks which have come to light in Apulia. There are various reasons for this and a detailed account must await a later report. For our present purposes, it will be enough to single out one or two areas, for comparison.

Research Article
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 1949

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 ‘Etruria from the Air’, ANTIQUITY, June 1947.

2 ‘A Technique for the study of Centuriation’, ANTIQUITY, December 1947.

3 The present illustrations are reproduced by kind permission of the Air Ministry, and are Crown Copyright. They were taken from heights between 10,000 and 25,000 feet, towards the end of May and early in June, and have been enlarged.

4 We wish to thank Mr H. N. Newton and Miss 0. Godwin, of the Ashmolean Museum, for their skill in photographing the model from different view-points.

5 Probably this number would be doubled if further systematic air-photography was undertaken for short spells in early summer, over several years. We are reminded of the thick concentration of Neolithic settlement-mounds in Bulgaria, described by James H. Gaul in the American School of Prehistoric Research Bulletin, no. 16, 1948, p. 79. The ‘vast’ number of 220 have been recorded in Bulgaria, but this no longer seems so extraordinary in view of the quantity of sites on the Foggia plain. The great majority of those in Bulgaria are merely recorded, from ground observation, and thus there are very few plans. Gaul estimates a population of 5000-10,000, at any one time, in late Neolithic Bulgaria.

6 In the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 1947.

7 Compare V. G. Childe, Dawn of European Civilisation, 1947 ed., 226.

8 In ANTIQUITY, Dec. 1946,196 seq., and Platqs 11 and in. In 1945,1 was able to have a trench cut through the ditch of a hut-compound inside a similar large sub-triangular village site. This produced, right down to the bottom of the square-cut ditch, a large quantity of the characteristic fine burnished wares and some painted pottery (decorated ‘a fasce larghe’), typical of the Apulian Neolithic, and both falling within Stevenson’s Phase 11. The ditch measured 7 feet in width at the top, and was 5 feet deep.

9 See Bull, di paletnologia italiana, XLVI, 152.

10 Storia della Colonizzazione di Roma Antica, voi. i, 1923, esp. p. 4 and p. 156. For a further discussion, see Rudi Thomsen, The Italie Regions from Augustus to the Lombard invasion, Copenhagen, 1947. His conclusions are of some value to our topographical researches, which we shall later collate with the written sources and inscriptions.

11 i.e. about i actus across. One is reminded of the small Roman farm sites, enclosed by rectangular ditches, found from the air in Oxfordshire by Major Allen (see V.C.H., Oxon., I, Plates XXI-XXIII).

12 As T. J. Dunbabin has pointed out in The Western Greeks we know very little indeed about this aspect, and the social picture thus tends to be unbalanced.

13 For their position on the map, see the vertical view of the scale model (Plate I, at i, near the foot of the Gargano). They would be part of the centuriated fields ‘quae circa Montem Garganum sunt’, mentioned in the libri coloniarium.

14 A modern olive grove can be compared at E.

15 For his activities, which included the deep furrows for drainage (sulci) mentioned in Justinian’s Digest, see M. Maxey, Occupations of the Lower Classes in Roman Society, Chicago, 1938. 79-80.

16 An arrangement in groups of five. Any five in the same position form a square with the fifth at the centre. Examples of this have been found on the Apulian air photographs.

17 It is accepted by E. H. Carrier in his Water and Grass, a study in the Pastoral Economy of Southern Europe, 1932, and has found its place also in M. Cary’s recent book, The Geographic Background of the Greek and Roman World, 1949, pp. 140-1.

18 Compare Professor Vogt’s excavation of the Dark Age stronghold and Ottoman palace of the early Middle Ages at Zurich; see Der Lindenhof in Zurich (Fiissli, Zurich, 1948 : 30 Swiss francs).

19 Parallels given by Medieval illustration are suggestive, and my wife, who is investigating this, has drawn my attention to the general similarities with the field-patterns in the landscape backgrounds in paintings and manuscripts of the period. See, for example, Pope-Hennessy, Sienese Quartrocentro Painting, plates 19, 22, 28 and 29, and particularly the calendar illustrations to the Très Riches Heures (1904 éd.), prepared for the Duc de Berry, including plates III, VII and XXXV.