Grumentum is a Roman town situated on a low plateau rising above the right bank of the Agri River in western Basilicata. Founded as a colonia in the 50s BC, by the 2nd century AD it had emerged as one of the most important urban centres in ancient Lucania and was provided with a range of public buildings (forum-basilica, theatre, amphitheatre) reflecting this status. These monumental structures were the focus of excavation campaigns throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and while they provide useful insights into Grumentum’s social and political history, many questions regarding the town’s economic development and the composition of its peripheral neighborhoods remain unanswered.
The British Archaeological Project at Grumentum (BAPG) was initiated in 2014 to address some of these questions. The project, which operates under an agreement between Cardiff University, the Soprintendenza Archeologica della Basilicata, and the Comune di Grumento Nova, is exploring the growth of Grumentum’s commercial and industrial economies between the late Republic and the early Dominate. For the last six years the BAPG has been excavating in Settore S, a mercantile quarter situated in the centre of the town.
Geophysical surveys conducted in this area during 2010-2011 revealed the presence of a large building positioned roughly parallel to the forum. Over the course of the BAPG’s first three seasons, we clarified the structure’s overall design and refined the chronology of the late antique phases. It consists of two main components: a single row of rooms (each c. 33 m²) and a wide portico to their west. Like other parts of Grumentum, the complex was abandoned at a relatively early date (mid-4th century AD), with metalworking and glass production continuing in the vicinity through the early medieval period.
Although the general layout of the area is reminiscent of purpose-built commercial properties found elsewhere in Roman Italy (e.g. the “Strip Building” on the Via Superior at Pompeii), our initial excavations inside the complex produced no evidence for commercial or industrial activity. Based on the results of the last two seasons, however, we are now confident that the building—which was probably erected in the early 3rd century AD—contained a series of tabernae, or shops. Excavations below the foundations also revealed the presence of an earlier structure on a similar alignment, which may be associated with the installation of the Roman colony.
For further details on the BAPG's discoveries in Settore S, please visit the "Publications" tab, where our annual excavation reports are available for download.