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.”