Changes and Transformations of the Spatial Structure and Landscape in the Area of L’Aquila between the Fourth and Eighth Centuries AD

Fabio Redi


In the period between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, the territory of L’Aquila underwent a number of transformations that also occurred elsewhere. The cities (Amiternum, Civita di Bagno, Peltuinum, Aufinum) suffered a heavy setback in their urban and economic development because of the general crisis of the Empire, the devastating effects of earthquakes in the second half of the fourth century, the Greek-Gothic war, the barbarian migrations and last, but not least, the changes in society and the ideological-cultural transformation induced by Christianisation. The relationship between town and country / city and territory undergoes fundamental changes, with different connotations in terms of landscape and settlements. The archaeological research and excavation of the surface, which we have carried out in the territory of L’Aquila for over a decade, is beginning to provide evidence of the results of the urban and rural landscape transformations: the Christianisation of space and functional transformation of major public and private facilities are confirmed by the discovery of churches replacing temples, as in Centurelli and in Piana San Marco and so on. Other evidence is provided by citadels obtained through the restoration of theatres and amphitheatres or city gates, as in the restorations and transformations of Peltuinum and Amiternum. We can also mention functional transformations such as private domus, sometimes with a long occupation of public spaces, such as in Amiternum and Peltuinum, or the defunctionalisation of infrastructures such as thermal complexes, roads, aqueducts and sewers. Homes or wooden cabins occupy the scene in the Amiternum theatre; churches like Santa Maria of Ansedonia abut the city walls. The rural landscape is changing for many reasons: the spread of Christian places of worship, the collapsing of public infrastructures such as roads or waterways, the advancement of wetlands and uncultivated areas and grazing activities to the detriment of agricultural areas. By the seventh century there is a further change in urban and agro-pastoral planning, which will be illustrated with concrete examples provided by the archaeological research we are carrying out.


L’Aquila, Changes and Transformations, Settlement Patterns, Landscapes, Fourth-Eighth Centuries AD

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