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archaeological sites

Roman farm of Montiscendi


typology: Centuriation, farm; necropolis
Area: Versilia
District/Locality: Pietrasanta, locality Montiscendi

The area between the present day village of Montiscendi and the bed of lake Porta was probably included in the territory of the colony of Luni in the Roman period and presents evident traces of agrarian organization (centuriation) with the aim of regulating the surface waters and distributing the land among the colons. Through this area, moreover, passed the Via Aurelia-Aemilia, the main route between Rome and the northern Tyrrhenian coast and, in particular, between Pisa and Luni.
The rests of agricultural and artisans' settlements (farm of Montiscendi; farm and brick-works with related kiln near the lake of Porta-Montignoso), as well as traces of the main route's passage, were found in the area between Montiscendi and Lake Porta.
At Montiscendi, in a place called Pruniccia, archaeological excavations, conducted between 1990 and 1991, helped to identify the remains of an agricultural settlement, which had periods of life between the IInd century B.C. and the IIIrd century A.D.
(text by Fabio Fabiani)
State of preservation

The remains are not visible; finds are preserved at the Archeological Museum Bruno Antonucci in Pietrasanta.
Historycal news

Along the Roman road between Pisa and Luni , probably closely followed in this stretch by the modern Via Aurelia, a building, one rectangular room of which has been explored, was erected between 150 and 100 B.C.. Its constructive features indicate a general use for productive activities rather than as living quarters. The room is delimited at its base by walls made of large roughly hewn stones and cobbles; upon these, gratings consisting of a cane frame filled with clay and stones, were set up; the covering was made of tiles, supported by beams and nailed rafters. The room floor was made of cocciopesto, while outside a dirt floor was found.
The discovery of loom weights among the material from layers of periods when the building was in use, allow us to affirm that weaving was certainly one of the domestic activities.
The building was in use for more than two centuries until, at some time between the end of the Ist and the beginning of the IInd century A.D., a partial collapse of the structure shows that it was abandoned. However, during the IInd century A.D., some adjustments to the already decaying structure, such as a hearth built within the collapsed walls, prove that the structure was occasionally occupied: in this scanty presence we catch the signs of a spreading crisis in rural Italy. A further symptom of this situation of unease is a handful of coins, maybe originally contained in a leather purse, stowed away inside the building at the turn of the century.
The site was definitely abandoned shortly after, probably due to flooding and the structures collapsed completely.
Near the farm, a funerary inscription that may be dated to the IInd century A.D., placed by the husband and parents of the dead, has been found. This find suggests a burial area next to the settlement, as at Crocialetto, Cafaggio, Pieve di S. Giovanni e Santa Felicita and Pievecchia.bibliography:
- Sheperd E. J., Montiscendi (Pietrasanta), in Pietrasanta. Museo Archeologico Versiliese Bruno Antonucci, Viareggio 1995
Bibliography

- Sheperd E. J., Montiscendi (Pietrasanta), in Pietrasanta. Museo Archeologico Versiliese Bruno Antonucci, Viareggio 1995

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