Special Episode – The Archaeology of Early Rome with Darius Arya

In this very special episode we’re joined by archaeologist Darius Arya. Darius has lived and worked as an archaeologist in Rome for over twenty years! 

Special Episode – The Archaeology of Early Rome with Darius Arya

We wanted to learn more about the archaeological record for the early period of Rome’s history. While we’ve been focused on reading and interpreting the literary sources of Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, there’s a wealth of other evidence for the ancient past to consider. Archaeology is fundamental in revealing elements of the past that aren’t written down. Even more interesting is that the archaeological remains can suggest new interpretations about the past that conflict or add complexity to the literary sources.

You may have seen Darius on television. He’s presented a number of documentaries on the ancient world and we are absolutely thrilled to explore Rome’s early history with his expertise. Things to listen out for in this episode:

  • The importance of topography
  • The connections between the Etruscan peoples and the Romans
  • Discussion of how the Etruscans dominate the archaeological record compared Rome’s other early neighbours, the Volscians and the Aequians
  • What we can say about the Sabine peoples
  • Key sites of interest when thinking about early Rome and her neighbours

We recommend having a map handy to spot all the places that are touched on in this far-ranging and engaging conversation. The map below has some of places mentioned on it and also provides some guidance on the languages of the different regions. 

Map of Ancient Italy according to language groups

The Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy at the beginning of Roman expansion.
Courtesy of Susana Freixeiro~commonswiki via Wikimedia Commons

Darius Arya can be found on social media, posting about Rome and the sites he’s working on and the museums he’s collaborating with. You can catch him on Twitter @DariusAryaDigs, Instagram @dariusaryadigs, and his limited series podcast Darius Arya Digs.He is the director of The American Institute for Roman Culture. Their mission “to preserve and protect Rome’s extraordinary and unique cultural legacy through education, outreach, and action.” He is also the director of Ancient Rome Live which is dedicated to providing free-to-access resources for learning about ancient Rome.

Guide to Locations and Peoples

Aequians – the Aequian peoples are an Italic group that inhabited the Apennine mountains east of Rome and to the south of the Sabines.

Albano – in the Castelli Romani region to the south-east of Rome. There is a a lake and a hill named for Albano

Anio, river – The Anio starts in the Apennines east of Rome and flows through Tivoli before joining the Tiber

Antium – south of Rome and slightly east, a coastal city

The Castelli Romani region (please note this is to the south-east not south-west of Rome!) – includes the modern towns which are also ancient sites: Albano, Castel Gandolfo, Frascati, Tusculum. Often associated with the Aequians in the literary sources for the early Republic.

Castel Gandolfo – in the Castelli Romani region to the south-east of Rome. Most famous now as the location of the Pope’s summer residence!

Circeo (ancient Circeii) – South and east of Rome. A coastal site that is further south and further east than Antium. Modern San Felice Circeo, the site is known for its beach. In ancient Rome, this was where a treaty was signed between Carthage and Rome in 509 BCE!

Frascati – in the Castelli Romani region to the south-east of Rome.

Ostia – west of Rome, a port settlement at the mouth of the Tiber river.

Sabines – a peoples living to the east of Rome and north of the river Anio in the mountainous Apennine region

Sant’Omobono – an archaeological site in Rome next to the church of Sant’Omobono, at the junction of the modern via L. Petroselli and il Vico Jugario at the foot of the Campidoglio (the ancient Capitoline hill). This site contains altars and temples to Fortuna and Mater Matuta and is considered very important for understanding the development of urbanisation in Rome. 

Sant'Ombono archaeological site

The Sant’Omobono archaeological site where temple remains date back to the 7th century BCE!
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Tusculum– in the Castelli Romani region to the south-east of Rome. Famous in our written sources for the early Republic as a friend of Rome, but also later famous as where Cicero had a villa.

Pomezia – directly south of Rome. The modern township on the ancient site of Lavinium and located in the Pontine marshes.

Veii – about sixteen kilometres north of Rome. An Etruscan city built on a plateau of tuff and was considered to be in an extremely defensible and strategic location. Veii is the most significant southern city of Etruria.

Volscians – the Volscian peoples are thought to be a group of Osco-Umbrian speakers who inhabited the area south of Rome, which is characterised by hills interspersed with marshes such as the Pontine marshes.

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Drs R and G laugh and spar their way through the ancient Roman world!

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