Maremma experienceHISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY
Discovering the history of Civitella Paganico
The territory of Civitella Paganico is an incredible source of archaeological and architectural finds yet to be discovered. It is no coincidence that two particularly dynamic and productive archaeological research organisations are based here.
The Odysseus Archaeological Association was founded in 2007 in Casale di Pari thanks to the enthusiasm of a group of young archaeologists (amateurs and not) who were about to excavate an Etruscan tomb, which they had discovered, in collaboration with the Soprintendenza. Over time, the association's excavation sites and activities have expanded, ranging from archaeology to the organisation of cultural events and collaboration with leading Tuscan universities. The association organises meetings with archaeologists and theatrical visits or visits combined with musical concerts for groups and individuals and constantly collaborates with the Municipality of Civitella Paganico in organising cultural events.
The Impero Project (Interconnected Mobility of People and Economy along the River Ombrone) is an archaeological research project that aims to investigate the changes that took place in the Mediterranean economy from the late Etruscan period to the 9th century AD, with a particular focus on southern Roman Etruria. The project is carried out by the Department of Classics at the University at Buffalo (SUNY - USA) in collaboration with Michigan State University. Local partnerships include the Odysseus Cultural Association, the Municipality of Civitella Paganico and the Monteverdi Estate.
All excavation and research operations are carried out under a concession from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism and under the supervision of the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the provinces of Siena, Grosseto and Arezzo.
Excavations of Casenovole
Archaeological investigations at the Hellenistic necropolis of Casenovole, near the Boschetto locality, began in August 2007. Since then and until 2015, the excavations were directed by the then Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana with the collaboration of the property of the Casenovole Castle, the Municipality of Civitella Paganico and the Odysseus Onlus Archaeological Association. To date, five tombs have been excavated: the tomb "del Tasso" (2007), the tomb "dello Scarabeo" (2009- 2010), the tomb "delle Uova" (2011), the tomb "delle Foglie d'Oro" (2014-2015) and tomb 9, 10 e 11 (2017-2020). The tombs of Casenovole confirm the crossroads role played by the area. In particular, the tomb "del Tasso" (end of the III - mid II century B.C.) has returned an intact trousseau: Volterra pottery, urns of the Chiusi type, jewellery, coins. Also in the tombs "dello Scarabeo" and "delle Foglie d'Oro" (IV-III century B.C.), unfortunately violated, were found materials characteristic of the Volterra environment (a fragment of alabaster alabastron, black and red painted ceramics, for example some kelebai) and, to a lesser extent, of the Chiusi environment (stone urns). The role of border territory seems also confirmed by the local toponym Tollero, which identifies the road that leads from Paganico to Roccastrada, perhaps derived from the Etruscan term *tul (whose reference to the concept of "border" is consolidated in the history of studies), and by the presence of the rural sanctuary of Cannicci, near Paganico (IV-II century BC).
Excavations of Caldanelle
Thermal baths did not end with the fall of Rome, and were not just a bourgeois 'rediscovery' in the 19th century. Caldanelle (in the context of Terme di Petriolo), is a sort of small village, a complex settlement with the functions of a hotel in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, serving the thermal waters, hidden until 2002 by vegetation and stratifications, but remembered by written sources. Until it was stubbornly searched for and rediscovered in 2002 (Marcocci, 2016). With three excavation campaigns, from 2017 to 2020, the Odysseus Association investigated it with a concession from the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio of the provinces of Siena, Grosseto and Arezzo, under the scientific direction of Roberto Farinelli of the University of Siena. The first results immediately showed that the baths were so important in this area of Tuscany in the Middle Ages that they were recommended fortification, as they were at the centre of disputes. Sources, in fact, recall that the bishop of Siena, Donosdeo Malavolti (14th century) was the architect of the fortification works (Bellotti et.al., 2020, 16-18).
The thermal water gushes out about twenty meters from the site, which is located on a rise between a ditch and the Caldanelle stream, hence the name of the complex, about one kilometer from the Farma river, where the other and still well-known thermal waters flow. Since the fourteenth century the area was frequented, and then developed especially until the sixteenth century. But the site also tells of production, such as glass, ceramics and textiles (the hot water was used for the maceration of broom in special tanks, to obtain textile fiber, a practice still in use well into the twentieth century). You get to the traces of what is less visible for example the transhumance of flocks, which were probably made to pass through here for the antiseptic functions of the water for animals.
The Caldanelle still have much to tell, and the association Odysseus will continue in its work of public archaeology, or rather of participated archaeology. That makes the citizens active sentinels and - in fact - participants in the territory, and local scholars involved in a long-term archaeological project of great historical and archaeological interest.
Excavations of Pietratonda
At about 4 km from Paganico, along the valley of Fosso Fogna, there are impressive archaeological remains. Alfonso Ademollo, at that time royal inspector of excavations and monuments, spoke about them for the first time in 1888. He briefly described the ruins of a Roman baths including a semicircular wall and an arch through which you descended into the basement of the monumental complex. Later, in 1915, Inspector Galli reported the news of the discovery of a fistula aquaria near the washing plant of the siliceous sands. In the same manuscript he described the site which, oriented perfectly to the east, was formed by a series of rooms "...covered with bricks or plaster or opus reticulatum...". At a lower level and in a better state of preservation, he pointed out a large semicircular room (the so-called calidarium) and a brick archway through which one could access the underground. Here he noticed two circular rooms similar to wells, closed by a flattened vault. On the basis of these features and occasional findings of artifacts made during mining excavations, Inspector Galli ended his report by dating the structure between the first and second century AD with the hope of undertaking archaeological excavations to better define functions and chronologies.
The excavations so longed for by the scholar were undertaken almost a century later, between 2004 and 2006, thanks to a project coordinated by Emanuela Todini and Perla Giacchieri, led by the municipality of Civitella Paganico together with the Superintendence and which saw the participation of the Universitat de Girona (Spain) and the Ecole d'Architecture de Toulouse (France) - at a later stage by Saci srl. Financed by the Municipality of Civitella Paganico, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and the European Union.
The site, in the meantime, had been heavily altered and damaged by mining and agricultural work, with the construction of underground utilities, outbuildings and a gas station: the two wells described by Galli, for example, were used to house fuel tanks.
The excavation campaigns of 2004-2006 - a period of research too short to acquire sufficient historical knowledge of the ancient settlement - have revealed a phase of the early imperial age, to which belong, among others, the structures of the large thermal environment (the semicircular wall described by Ademollo and Galli), which was followed by a restructuring and, probably, a reconversion. This phase took place at a time that is difficult to establish due to the lack of clear chronological indicators in the destruction layers.
The discovery of mosaic tesserae and precious marbles have demonstrated the importance and the quality of the structures that could be interpreted, resuming the thesis of Galli, as a public spa at a sulphurous thermal spring.
After 13 years of neglect, during 2019, thanks to an agreement between the municipality, the Superintendence and Odysseus, a program of cleaning and maintenance began, which is slowly bringing the archaeological site back to a condition of decorum.
Excavations of Cannicci
One of the main sites of interest of Impero Project is represented by the remains of a late Etruscan and Republican sanctuary at Podere Cannicci. A vicus was founded around it to provide support to the adjacent religious complex. The site occupies a large portion of the territory of Monteverdi and was initially excavated by the Superintendence between 1989 and 1990. The 1989-1990 excavations revealed the existence of a series of large rectangular rooms with stone walls and clay reliefs. These were preliminarily interpreted as remnants of warehouses, as 10 dolia were recovered along two of the walls. However, this structure was part of a larger settlement with a rectangular courtyard (14x11 m) with a rectangular basin plastered in cocciopesto. From this a network of drains ran to a cistern while at least 5 other rooms were found but not completely excavated. The investigations around the site clearly show the existence of different (and successive) phases of occupation at least until the IInd century A.D. since coins minted under Trajan and Hadrian have been recovered.
Excavations of Monteverdi
In the locality of Monteverdi the Impero Project team has recently discovered a Roman cistern. Located on a hill opposite the modern road to Montalcino, the cistern is fairly well preserved, although a thick layer of rubble has filled its interior. The perimeter walls are made of regular stone blocks of rectangular shape and glued with solid mortar. The dome of the cistern is made of a very thick layer of cocciopesto, an impermeable mixture of white mortar and crushed clay bricks. On top of the dome two different holes allow a possible subsequent access to the cistern.
Excavations of Castellaraccio of Monteverdi
The Castellaraccio of Monteverdi is located on a hill 130 meters above sea level. Today it looks like an abandoned medieval village, with few structures still visible in the vegetation. It overlooks the Ombrone river and the ruined medieval bridge that connects the NW bank to the Sasso d'Ombrone. The first mention of the castle dates back to the middle of the 12th century A.D., when it was part of the vast estate of the Monastery of San Salvatore di Giugnano (Roccastrada, GR) and of the Abbey of San Lorenzo all'Ardenghesca. In 1202 A.D. it became part of the fiscal regime of the Commune of Siena and the church of San Giorgio is mentioned. It is at this time that the Monastery of San Salvatore di Giugnano (and its estates) were transferred to the Abbey of San Galgano. Twenty-five massiritie were registered by Siena in 1278 A.D., while two years later the Abbey of San Lorenzo sold its properties to Siena (2/3 of the settlement). In 1294 A.D. the sons of Ugolino di Rustico bought the estate from the Commune of Siena, while at the end of the same century the Abbey of San Galgano sold the third one to Niccolò di Bonifazio Bonsignori. In 1297 A.D. the Bonsignori family ceded its properties to Siena; however, the castle was at this stage abandoned and in ruins as it was described as destructus et nullus habitat in eodem. In 1320 A.D. the castle and the rural houses pertaining to it were part of the Municipality of Paganico. The site of Castellaraccio is the subject of archaeological investigations since 2017. Archaeology aims to understand the extent of the settlement, its urban plan and chronology of use. Given its strategic location and the early abandonment of the settlement, the site should also preserve early medieval phases not recorded in written sources.
Photo Casenovole, Caldanelle e Pietratonda (c) Odysseus Archaeological Association
Photo Monteverdi (c) Impero Project