Boise State team leads archaeology find in Italy

Katie Huntley suggested that the group may yet unearth new discoveries about the ancient community.
Katie Huntley suggested that the group may yet unearth new discoveries about the ancient community. | Contributed photo

Within the earth below a field in Italy, an archaeology team of faculty and students from three universities — led by Boise State professor Katie Huntley — has uncovered remains that could signify an ancient Roman temple.

Using geophysical survey equipment, archaeologists from Boise State University, Texas Tech University and England’s Leicester University joined forces to excavate the land, recently completing the first of at least five years for the project. Texas Tech’s Hannah Friedman and Leicester’s Penelope Allison are directing the project alongside Huntley.

Identified as the ancient Roman colony of Libarna near what is now Serravalle Scrivia, Italy, the project is the first global effort of its kind in the region. To gain the trust and support of local landowners — whose permission was needed to explore the acreage — local archaeologist Melania Cazzulo acted as liaison. The town’s mayor, Alberto Carbone, took a personal interest and came to visit the site himself.

Preliminary work indicates the remnants of a building measuring approximately 66 by 98 feet, with a raised platform and three separate rooms at one end. The structure appears to have faced east, aligned toward the ancient Roman forum, and if corroborated as a temple, would be the first religious site found in the locality.

The ruins suggest that Huntley’s team is not the first to dig at the site, with prior explorations carried out in the 1800s, 1930s and 1970s. Because the previous surveys revealed public buildings such as a theater, bath complex, forum and city blocks, Huntley suggested that the group may yet unearth new discoveries about the ancient community.

“We are trying to figure out where past excavations were carried out,” Huntley said, noting that they have been, “very piecemeal and often poorly documented over the past 200-plus years.”

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