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The Laurentine Shore Project

Award Information

Discipline: Archaeology
Funding opportunity: Research Grant
Areas of Impact: Environment; Museums and collections; Policy influence
Lead RO: Royal Holloway, University of London
Region: London

The archaeological remains of the Laurentine Shore, near Rome, is a unique cultural resource hitherto largely unknown and in the process of being destroyed by nature.

Professor Amanda Claridge from Royal Holloway, Loughborough University, the Italian State Superintendency of Antiquities for Rome, and the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Italian Republic united to preserve the archaeological remains of the Laurentine Shore.

Professor Claridge’s research project provided the tools for the immediate protection and future management - within a natural forest environment - of many archaeological sites, also for the education of the visiting public. The important results included: a precise chronology for and understanding of the evolution of the coastline before, during and after the Roman period; definition of relationships between the ancient natural and built environment at the Vicus, the villa to the west and two fish-farms; an efficient methodology for geophysical survey on sand; the demonstration to all parties concerned that the subsoil archaeology is far more extensive and at greater risk than had previously been perceived.

in the form of 3D images the research revealed that there are substantial tracts of a rich and varied archaeological landscape lying under dense vegetation, which complements and contextualises the more visible remains.  The research team proved that the vegetation is quite recent, and very different from the ancient landscape. These discoveries have had a positive impact on local attitudes to heritage management.  New methods of conserving and presenting the cultural heritage of the Laurentine Shore were implemented and a shared understanding agreed that, at least on the seaward reaches of the estate, both the natural and the cultural landscape had equal rights to study, protection and presentation.

The Soprintendenza Speciale per i beni archeologici di Roma became more fully informed of the actual nature and extent of the archaeological resources in this part of the Tenuta di Castelporziano, which it is their responsibility to protect.

The Commissione forestale of the Tenuta di Castelporziano also became more fully aware of the nature of the subsoil in this part of the estate and of the damage new plantings have done and can do in the future. It had been the practice in the past to renew fallen trees and plant extra trees in the area in order to protect the forest further inland. New pine forests were planted on the imperial villa in the mid 2000s, and the impact of this research has been to change the forestry plan so that more historically appropriate and archaeology-friendly forms of tree cover were used.

The Tenuta di Castelporziano is open annually to about 12,000 visitors a year, for example  schoolchildren and members of amateur societies, who are admitted in groups and accompanied by the Forest Guard who act as guides.  The tours focussed only on the natural environment and wild-life, but the local archaeological museum (opened in 2006) and some of the more visible and accessible archaeological ruins are now included. Finally, the entire site archive (from 1984-2010) was digitised as part of the research and is available online.

For more information on the project visit: https://intranet.royalholloway.ac.uk/classics/research/laurentine-shore-project/home.aspx