Massive First-Century Capitolium Temple Identified in Northern Italy
From under the quiet north Italian town of Sarsina, archaeologists have unearthed an enormous Capitolium temple built by the Romans in the 1st century BC. Found in an exceptional state of preservation, along with the sandstone pavement accompanying it, the temple has been connected to a cult building from the Roman age. The temple is quadrangular and tripartite, with horizontal courses of sandstone blocks identified as the podium on which the walls of the old cult building were to be erected.
The excavations have revealed the original podium, with its marble slabs. (Ministero della Cultura)
Capitolium Temple Discovery Dubbed “Archaeological Treasure”
“This finding is an important archaeological treasure that can offer valuable information about the history and evolution of a specific geographical area,” announced Gennaro Sangiuliano, Italy’s Minister of Culture, when discussing the Capitolium temple find. “It is an important contribution to our understanding of the past and it can have significant implications for historical and archaeological research.”
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When announcing the find, the Italian Ministry of Culture explained that their excavations have revealed vestiges of what is most probably the Capitol. Of this, the podium remains covered in marble slabs. There is also a drainage system, as well as evidence of a previous Umbro settlement dating back to the 4th century BC.
The initiatives and excavations are being spearheaded by the Superintendency of Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Landscape (ABAP) responsible for the provinces of Ravenna, Forlì-Cesena, and Rimini. Heraldo reported that the Capitolium temple has been linked “to the typology of an Italic temple well attested on the peninsula, preserved for a maximum height of 2.85m [9ft 4in).”
The remains have been identified to have been part of a temple devoted to the Capitoline Triad of deities: Jupiter, June and Minerva. (Ministero della Cultura)
The Significance of a Capitolium Temple
According to researchers, this structure is likely a Capitolium—a temple devoted to the Capitoline Triad of deities: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. During the Augustan and Julio-Claudian periods, Capitolium temples were typically constructed in locations of significant importance to the early Roman Empire, such as Rome, Pompeii, Ostia Antica, Brescia and Cosa.
These grand and prestigious temples were a common feature in ancient Roman cities, playing a significant religious and civic role in Roman society. Capitolium temples were typically characterized by their grandeur and imposing Roman architecture. They often featured a large podium upon which the temple was raised, a portico with columns and a cella or inner sanctuary where statues or images of the three deities were housed. Rome, Pompeii and Brescia, had prominent Capitoliums.
This momentous discovery will be officially presented to the public during the European Heritage Days, scheduled for September 23 and 24, 2023. It sheds light on the coexistence of Roman and medieval influences in Sarsina, reports The Heritage Daily.
The Capitolium temple was unearthed in Sarsina, Italy. (Ministero della Cultura)
Sarsina: A Fantastic Blend of Historical Periods
Adjacent to the Capitolium temple are high-medieval structures, which create a fascinating blend of historical periods. The town of Sarsina is also very famous for being the birthplace of one of antiquity’s most famous playwrights, Plautus (c.254-184 BC), whose comedies are among the earliest Latin literary works to have survived in their entirety. His works achieved remarkable success and have continued to inspire playwrights for centuries, including renowned figures like Shakespeare and Molière.
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During antiquity, Sarsina was a settlement of the Umbri, an Italic people that were conquered by the Romans during the 3rd century BC. Following the annexation of Umbri territories, Sarsina emerged as a major center of a pasture district.
Today, the town contains the remains of several ancient buildings from the Roman period, such as the public baths, remains of other temples, town defenses and fortifications, in addition to a number of amphorae, ceramics, pillars and bronze objects discovered by archaeologists in recent years. Sarsina is situated in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, which is known for its picturesque landscapes, historic towns and culinary delights, making it a delightful destination for tourists and travelers today.
Top image: Excavations in Sarsina have uncovered the remains of a stunning Capitolium Temple. Source: Ministero della Cultura
By Sahir Pandey
EFE. 2023. “They discover a Roman temple from the 1st century B.C. in Plautus' hometown” in Heraldo. Available at: https://www.heraldo.es/noticias/ocio-y-cultura/2023/08/23/descubren-templo-romano-ciudad-natal-plauto-1673368.html
Milligan, M. 23 August 2023. “Roman Capitolium Temple Discovered in Sarsina” in Heritage Daily. Available at: https://www.heritagedaily.com/2023/08/roman-capitolium-temple-discovered-in-sarsina/148371
Redaction, A. 23 August 2023. “Roman temple discovered in Sarsina” in Ansa Latina. Available at: https://www.ansalatina.com/americalatina/noticia/cultura_y_moda/2023/08/23/descubren-templo-romano-en-sarsina_5e80cdcf-766c-4bac-854a-76d3e0e897b8.html