Views 1609 at May – 14 – 2014
World Monuments Fund Watch
Belongs to the Ministry for the Goods and the Cultural Activities of Italy
Carsulae – Arco di S. Damiano and part of old Via Flaminia
Carsulae, an ancient Roman town erected along the course of the Flaminia Road, was abbandoned long-ago because of serious landslides which had rendered it necessary to move the seat of this important consular road. Not all of this interesting archeological area which is situated between Terni and Sangemini has been brought to light. However, the Forum area with the ruins of the basilica and of the Twin Temples, the Theater and the Amphitheater, both of which are quite well-preserved, are visible; also the very beautiful arch of St. Damian, and further on, very interesting sepulchral monuments. Right next to the Forum the beautiful medieval church of St. Damian was built by using the archeological materials found within this area.
Carsulae – Archaeological Park
The Roman town of Carsulae is one of the most important and spectacular archeological sites in Umbria. Located in the province of Terni, it stands on a gently rolling upland plain at the feet of the Martani mountains. Because it was abandoned and untouched by subsequent cultures, it has remained substantially unaltered, allowing a precise reading of its urban layout and buildings. The pavement of the Flaminian Way, which crosses it north to south, has remained intact, and together with the pristine landscape, it creates an enchanting sight evocative of ancient splendor. Along with the beautiful stretch of the Flaminian Way, Carsulae’s other monuments include the two twin temples, the amphitheater, the theater, the Arch of San Damiano, and the monumental tombs.
The ruins of the ancient Roman town of Carsulae are not far from Terni and the small town of Sangemini, known for its mineral water springs. Carsulae rose along the Flaminian Way as a pole of attraction for the pre-Roman peoples living in the hills and the surrounding countryside; the area had in fact been densely populated since the Middle Bronze Age, with settlements at strong positions on hilltops dominating the plains and natural communication routes below. The building of the Flaminian Way in 220-219 BC brought great development to the communities along the way, functioning as a point of reference for the transformation and evolution of their way of life. The traffic moving along this road brought many people into the areas that it crossed, and it is probable that the town of Carsulae was built during this period.
Excavations at the site, carried out haphazardly starting in the 16th century and culminating in the intensive campaigns between 1951 and 1972, unearthed a large number of monuments, buildings and inscriptions, forming a picture of a wealthy and politically active municipium, governed by magistrates, and whose citizens joined together to form trade associations.
The choice of the site was dictated mainly by economic considerations, tied to the presence of a major road carrying traffic between Rome and the Adriatic coast and northern Italy. Moreover, it stood at the edge of a fertile plain, making agriculture profitable. The decline and eventual abandoning of Carsulae was directly related to the loss of importance of the western branch of the Flaminian Way, to the benefit of the eastern branch passing through Interamna (Terni) and Spoletium (Spoleto).
Few traces remain of the republican town-planning stage (the period coinciding with the opening of the road), discovered during the excavation of the forum temple substructures. The definitive layout of the town goes back, however, to the Augustan age, when it became a municipium and was assigned to the Clustumina tribe. The final decline of the town was brought about not only by the transferring of the main route of the Flaminian Way toward the Spoleto plain, and consequently the abandoning of the “Carsulae” branch, but also by natural calamities, including a strong earthquake that caused the collapsing of a number of sinkholes upon which many public and private buildings stood, making the already depauperated site inhospitable. Carsulae is not mentioned as an episcopal see; the only presence of Christianity was the transformation of a Roman building into the church of San Damiano, the home of a small community of nuns.
Recent excavations have made it possible to recover some of Carsulae’s major public edifices, in the forum and the theater-amphitheater area, all of which are along the Flaminian Way. The urban stretch of the Flaminian is paved and has sidewalks and gutters, and its entrance at the northern end of town is marked by a large arched gateway, called the Arch of San Damiano, with only one of its original three arches remaining, built in opus caementicium and faced with travertine. Just outside the arch there are two monumental tombs which have been restored, belonging to persons and families of high standing, one of which identified as the Furii.
The trapezoid-shaped forum lies west of the Flaminian Way, from which it is separated by two four-sided arches serving as entrances, and it is partially paved with slabs of pink marble. Standing at the south end are two twin temples, whose high podium serves to offset the natural slope of the ground, and at the north is a series of structures with apses, surely public buildings, possibly the seat of the municipal senate and related buildings. Fragments of honorary statues of the Julius-Claudia family, including a head/bust of Claudius, were found in this area. East of the road and opposite the forum is the basilica, a large building with a nave, side aisles and an apse, of which the plinths of the interior columns remain. Next are the ruins of rooms belonging perhaps to private buildings, followed by the small church of San Damiano, built using the walls of an ancient structure. A paved road perpendicular to the Flaminian Way and running alongside the basilica leads to the entertainment zone: here the excavations unearthed the amphitheater, built making use of a natural sinkhole, and the theater, the seats of which are supported by a series of vaulted spaces. The two buildings are part of a single plan, and lie more or less along the same axis. Near the theater is a small structure with columns that may have been a palaestra; along the outside wall of the amphitheater, on the side opposite the road, there is a large, elongated cistern, composed of several rooms. To the south the remains of the baths are still visible, the excavation of which (not yet completed) has unearthed floor mosaics.
Nikon D300 Sigma 15/30