For decades Pisa University has been carrying out topographical-archaeological research in the South Marches region (Picenum in Roman times), mainly focusing on the towns of Firmum and Asculum and their territories. In the 1996-2008 period, most of the coastal and low hilly sectors of the Firmum territory were surveyed: 780 sites were identified, dating from Prehistory up to early Medieval timesand the results concerning the Firmum landscapes have recently been published.
In 2014 a new Project has started. It is concerned with the inner ager Firmanus, which is mainly characterized by high hilly and mountainous areas.
The target of the project is to reconstruct the complexity of the Firmum landscapes, combining the data from the coastal and inner territories.
We are dealing with the following topics: the natural environment; the relationship between Firmumand its territory; the road-system, ports and infrastructural network; land ownership and management; economic activities; daily life and social practices; landscapes and mental mapping.
Innovative methodology and tools ( LIDAR technology; geotaggin applications) are an integral part of the project.
This research is under the Authorization of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici delle Marche and is supported by the Comune of Fermo.
The survey activities are teacher training courses for students of Pisa University, including Erasmus students.
A few B.A., M. A. and PhD theses are in progress about this topic.
The survey campaigns in the High Tenna and Aso River Valleys have brought to light evidence of human presence since Prehistoric times. Piceni settlement patterns have been identified dating from the late 7th cent. BC and we found evidence from the late 3rd cent BC of a dense population in the surveyed areas, due to the Romanization process.
Many farmsteads have been identified within a centurial grid, some of which could have been Picenian sites that remained in occupation.
Most probably this territory was viritim adsignatus after the lex de agro Gallico et Piceno viritim dividundo (232 BC) and the colonists scattered in the countryside should have had a settlement centre for administrative, social, and economic purposes located nearby and along the main roads.
This settlement can be located in today’s small town of Comunanza on the basis of topographic analyses of the territory -and in particular of the centurial grid- and the study of numerous archaeological finds from previous decades in this town, which can be identified with the Municipium of Novana mentioned by Pliny (N.H., III, 11).
See: S.Menchelli, E.Iacopini, Novana, its territory and the Pisa South Picenum Survey Project II, FOLD&R, nr.353, 2016, p. 1-20.