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Elda Russo Ermollia, Paola Romanoa, Maria Rosaria Ruelloa, Maria Rosaria Barone Lumagab

 

The natural and cultural landscape of Naples (southern Italy) during the Graeco-Roman and Late Antique periods

 


aDipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell’Ambiente e delle Risorse (DiSTAR), Università di Napoli Federico II, Largo San Marcellino 10, I-80138 Napoli, Italy
bDipartimento di Biologia, Orto Botanico, Università di Napoli Federico II, Via Foria 223, I-80139 Napoli, Italy

 

Journal of Archaeological Science
journal homepage: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jas

 

Abstract

 
Neapolis JASThe landscape around the Graeco-Roman town of Neapolis was reconstructed through morphostratigraphic methods and pollen analysis of the sediments filling the bay hosting the ancient harbor. This was discovered in 2004 thanks to excavations for two new lines of the Naples metro network; the harbor’s sedimentary record spans the period between the late 4th century BC and the 6th century AD. The main changes occurring in the marine and terrestrial landscape surrounding the ancient town are highlighted through the reconstruction of a detailed geological cross section and four 3D palaeogeographic models. Pollen analysis suggested the presence of mixed oak woods on the slopes surrounding the town and of vegetable gardens around the harbor area. The tree crops mainly consisted of walnut, and to a lesser extent chestnut and grapevines. The horticultural varieties were dominated by Brassicaceae, most likely representing cabbage cultivation which was rather common in Roman times. Comparison with reference pollen material reinforces this hypothesis. During the 3rd century AD a drastic decrease in horticultural activity, in concurrence with an increase in wild vegetation and tree crops, suggest reduced maintenance due to a phase of abandonment. Historical data imply for the same period a phase of economic and social decline which involved the whole Empire. From the end of the 3rd century AD, the growth of a spit bar at the port entrance gave rise to the establishment of a lagoon and then to the final closure of the bay.