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Project Strategy

The SVP employs a multi-scalar strategy in order to pursue its research questions:

Micro-scale: the examination of households and household production through the excavation of residential contexts, in order to understand better the organization of these fundamental social groups and the activities that defined them. An integrated methodology includes both field techniques (excavation, terrace survey) and laboratory work (recovery and analysis of plant macroremains, faunal, and ceramic assemblages). Geoarchaeological and micro-stratigraphic analysis provide close contextual control.

Meso-scale: study of wider communities within their working agricultural landscapes, whether small villages or dispersed households. Combined with the excavation of occupation sites, we are studying associated terrace systems, a source of evidence that is ubiquitous but which has often proven intractable to archaeological interpretation. Intensive survey and mapping are used to elucidate spatial relationships, and typological study and ethnographic analogy are used to address the issue of terrace function. Environmental analysis including coring of ponds and springs is used to provide evidence of regional vegetation and climate.

Macro/regional-scale: variable patterns of settlement and land-use in the distinctive environments of the lower, middle and upper Sangro River valley. This analysis draws upon data collected from excavation and survey work. At this scale, the goal is to reconstruct the distribution of the rural population across the landscape and understand how it articulated with special function sites such as hillforts, sanctuaries, and cemeteries.

Current Sites

San Giovanni (Tornareccio) (2011 - )

In 2011 the Sangro Valley Project began excavation of a late Roman complex of buildings on the outskirts of San Giovanni, a small farming community located on the lower slope of the eastern side of Monte Pallano. Recovered ceramics suggest that the most intensive period of activity on the site occurred during the 3rd-7th centuries C.E..

Survey work, begun in 2009, was continued in the area of San Giovanni. In addition, a terrace survey project (2010 - ) continued to document the spatial distribution, construction style, and state of preservation of agricultural terraces on and around Monte Pallano. The data obtained is being used to analyze the spatial patterning of land use in this area.

Val Fondillo (Opi) (2012 - )

The site at Val Fondillo (Opi) is located in the upper Sangro river valley, within the Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo. Excavations (1994-1995) in the area by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell’Abruzzo revealed the existence of an extensive Iron Age cemetery in use between the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. This burial ground was partly destroyed by the construction of a Roman villa in the 3rd – 2nd centuries B.C. that was occupied until at least the 2nd century A.D. New work at the site in 2011 by the Soprintendenza uncovered the unsuspected remains of an earlier Iron Age habitation site (the foundations and post-holes for a series of huts) underlying the villa that may be contemporary with or even predate the Iron Age cemetery. See their report.

Starting in 2012, the SVP will conduct survey in the area as well as excavate and collect environmental samples at the Val Fondillo site. The work is to be conducted by the SVP in collaboration with the Soprintendenza and the Ente Parco of the Parco Nazionale dell’Abruzzo.

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