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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a portion of
The Classical Topography of the Roman Campagna

Thomas Ashby

Papers of the British School at Rome

The text is in the public domain,
except for my notes.
Any color photographs are
© William P. Thayer or as indicated.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Thayer's Note: This is only a small excerpt from a very long study running several hundred pages of print. (The rest of it may eventually find its way onsite as well, but don't hold your breath!)

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p14 On the left of the road is the hill, now crowned by a fort, once occupied by the primitive village of Antemnae said to have been conquered by Romulus.​17 The meaning of the name is explained as 'ante amnem i.e. Anienem' by Varro, L. L. V.28, inasmuch as it stands at the point where the Anio falls into the Tiber, thus occupying a position of great strength. Plutarch (Sulla, 30) mentions it in connexion with the battle of the Porta Collina in 82 B.C. in such a manner as to indicate that it was not far from the city. Strabo mentions it, with Collatia, Fidenae, and Labici, as among the old fortified towns near Rome which had in his time become mere villages, Κολλατία δ’ ἦν καὶ Ἀντέμναι καὶ Φιδῆναι καὶ Λαβικὸν καὶ ἄλλα τοιαῦτα τότε μὲν πολίχνια, νῦν δὲ κῶμαι, κτήσεις ἰδιωτῶν, ἀπὸ τριάκοντα ἢ μικρῷ πλειόνων τῆς Ῥώμης σταδίων18 (V.3.2, p230), and Pliny (H. N. III.68) names it among the cities of Latium which had disappeared in his day. The indications given by our ancient authorities are sufficiently clear to make the identification certain, and there has never been any real doubt as to the site: while absolute certainty was brought by the excavations in connexion with the construction of the fort  p15 in 1882‑86 (Not. Scav. 1882, 415; 1883, 16; 1886, 24; 1887, 64; cf. Lanciani, Ruins and Excavations, 111), when the remains of the primitive city were discovered. Some traces of walling were found both on the N. and S., at two points where the existence of gates is probable (Nibby, Analisi, p161, supposes that there were four gates in all, but Lanciani admits three only), built in somewhat irregular opus quadratum of blocks of capellaccio (an inferior variety of tufa), not very carefully squared, 0·89 m. in length on an average, and 0·59 in height (Ruins and Excavations, cit.). Remains of the foundations of huts were also discovered, and a good deal of local pottery, corresponding to that found in the earlier strata of the Esquiline necropolis, with a considerable admixture of Etruscan bucchero and Graeco-Chalcidian ware; and there were even a few sporadic objects of the stone age.

The water supply of the city was well cared for: besides the springs at the foot of the hill on the N., there were several wells and a cistern within the circuit of the walls. One of the former is no less than 54 feet deep, while the cistern (Ruins and Excavations, fig. 43), destroyed soon after its discovery, was of great interest.

The N. portion of the site was later on occupied by a villa at the end of the Republican or commencement of the Imperial period, considerable remains of which were found, among them a cistern divided into three chambers. Two brick stamps of the first century A.D. (CIL XV 670b, 864) were found loose near these ruins. On the E. side some burials under tiles were discovered, dating perhaps from the time of the abandonment of the villa: the coins found with the bodies were illegible. Two inscribed cippi were also found in use in the repairs of the villa itself. It may be that the discoveries of 1822, of which Tomassetti speaks (op. cit. 30),​19 are to be referred to this site — remains of a villa 'sulla collinetta da cui si gode verso tramontana la prospettiva del basso Aniene.' If so, the findspot of the sarcophagus with a relief of the Nereids must be on the E. of the road. Or, if we refer the villa to a site E. of the Ponte Salario (infra, 45), then the sarcophagus may have been found near the Sedia del Diavolo (ibid.).

The comparison which Professor Lanciani makes and develops between Antemnae and the early city on the Palatine is interesting and important;  p16 and it is a pity that military exigencies rendered it impossible to explore the site thoroughly, and to preserve the remains which were discovered. I do not know even where the pottery that was found is kept.

The Ponte Salario by which the road crosses the Anio has been thrice destroyed in comparatively recent times, and little of the ancient structure now remains except the greater portion of the small arches on each side. It was cut in 1849 for a length of fifteen mètres by the French in their attack on Rome (Rapport de la Commission Mixte pour constater les dégâts, etc. (Paris, 1850), 42). A photograph of it after it was blown up in 1867 is given in Lanciani's Destruction of Ancient Rome, p149, fig. 26. Canina (Edifizi, VI tav. 178) gives views of it. It had one central arch and two smaller side arches of tufa with voussoirs of travertine. The parapets which were thrown into the river in 1798, bore the inscription of Narses, who restored the bridge under Justinian in 565 A.D.20 (CIL VI.1199).

. . .

The Author's Notes:

17 Hülsen in Pauly-Wissowa, R. E. I.2350.

18 The inclusion of Labici is a piece of careless writing, for as Strabo himself well knew (V.3.9, p237) it was fifteen or more miles from Rome.

19 He also mentions excavations made in the tenuta of Ponte Salario in 1821, the result of which is unknown.

20 Nibby, op. cit. II.594, cites Procopius, Bell. Goth. VII.24, fin.,º as stating that Narses destroyed all the bridges over the Anio; but the passage runs Τωτίλας δὲ καὶ οἱ βάρβαροι λύσαντες τὴν προσεδρείαν εἰς Τίβουριν πόλιν ἀφίκοντο πάσας σχεδόν τι τὰς τοῦ Τιβέριδος γεφύρας διελόντες, ὅπως μὴ Ῥωμαῖοι εὐπετῶς σφίσιν ἐπιέναι οἷοί τε ὦσι. γέφυραν μέντοι μίαν, ἣ Μιλβίου ἐπώνυμος ἐστι, διαφθεῖραι οὐδαμῆ ἴσχυσαν, ἐπεὶ ἄγχιστα τῆς πόλεως ἐτύγχανεν οὖσα. It certainly looks, however, as if Procopius had here, as in VII.10º (where he says that Tibur lay on the Tiber about 120 stadia (15 miles) — a rough measurement — from Rome, so that Totila's occupation of it prevented the Romans from bringing provisions down by river from Tuscany!), confused the Anio with the Tiber. The Pons Milvius is of course the bridge by which the Via Flaminia crosses the Tiber, and there was no bridge across the Tiber above it until the Via Flaminia recrossed it near Otricoli, nor any bridge below it, except those actually within the city of Rome. Besides, it would have been the bridges over the Anio which it was important to destroy.

Bartoli (Mem. 135, in Fea, Misc. I.260) notices that, during winter flood in the time of Innocent XI, one of the banks of the river fell in, and a large marble sarcophagus was found by some boatmen, who broke it to pieces, thinking that treasure was concealed in it. He does not give the exact locality of the discovery.

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