Wednesday 27 September 2023

Doss Penede, a Raethian site and a Roman military settlement between Lake Garda and the Alps. The archaeological excavation 2021

In Evidenza

The excavation at Doss Penede, in the alpine province of Trento (Italy), near the modern town of Nago began in 2018 through a collaboration between the University of Trento, Comune of Nago-Torbole and Superintendency for cultural heritage of the autonomous province of Trento. The site is located on a naturally defended calcareous hill from which it is easy to control a large area which includes the northern part of Lake Garda, the middle and lower river Sarca valley, as well as the natural connection between the Adige River and the lake Garda itself through the terrace of Nago.  The earliest archaeological evidence at the site dates from the Bronze Age. New archaeological excavation at Doss Penede is shedding light on a very interesting hill-top site which seems to have continuously occupied between Raethian period – which is the second Iron Age and the mid Imperial Period. It means that the occupation dates back to a wide period, ranging late 6th, early 5th centrury B.C.E. through to the late 3rd century CE.



The Raethian site, overlapped by the Roman settlement seems to have adapted to the local geomorphology and included construction of terraces and a pattern of buildings which are defined by the terraces themselves.

The typical building identified for the Raethian period is the so-called Casa Retica, which is house characterized by sunken floor. The way in which these buildings were constructed, included the foundations, which are placed on top of cut rocks. If the floor is a sunken one, the other part of the building was in perishable materials. The roof was a tecta straminia, made of earth and wood.

Once the area of Nago was incorporated in the Roman political and economic sphere, in the second half of the 1st century BCE, a new settlement was planned at the top of Doss Penede. At that time, the higher Garda area was part of the agger of Brixia (Brescia). The roman settlement had a strategic and possibly a military function. The local community was very likely a mixed one, including small component of soldiers put at the control of this large area and civilians. The Roman settlement was organized through a series of terraces, which are very well preserved. The Roman phase is also characterized by a significant investment in terms of monumentality. It seems that the different terraces were settled with buildings meeting different functions. The excavation at the moment is focusing at the buildings located at two terraces, and archeologists were able to  identify buildings with production function and others with domestic functions, stables, and rooms aiming at processing food.

The roman site came to an end between the end of the 3rd and the very beginning of the 4th century CE, possibly as the consequence of a natural catastrophe. The excavation of Project Doss Penede revealed a series of reconstructions of some of the main walls through the Roman period., which seems to depend on some kind of local instability, so periodically walls collapsed and were reconstructed. Eventually, the site was abandoned from the beginning of the 4th century CE.

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