Geert Verhoeven / Frank Vermeulen

(Ghent University, Belgium)

As it was initiated by the Archaeology and Geography Department of Ghent University in 2000, the geo-archaeological Potenza Valley Survey project (PVS) is now going on for six years. From the beginning, the project concentrated on three sample zones along the Potenza, a Central-Italian river which runs from the Apennines in Umbria through the Regione Marche before it ultimately ends in the Adriatic. Besides archaeological line walking on ploughed fields, a thorough geomorphological study enables the archaeological results to be interpreted in a broader perspective. During these six years, both studies were immensely stuffed with new information by an extensive and intensive aerial survey. Furthermore, literature, old maps and remaining structures are studied as well and incorporated in the GIS-environment used. Last year, geophysical prospection was started on Potentia, one of the major Roman towns in the valley. Combined with field survey data and aerial imagery, the topographical lay-out of this city could be rewritten. On-going investigation of previously excavated material will even expand our current vision.
This kind of detailed and integrated study will be transposed to the other Roman and protohistorical towns and comprise the second phase of the PVS. Intended excavations of some specific zones can help in clarifying rather problematic areas and allow for testing the data gained by the other methods.
In close collaboration with the Regione Marche, an archiving phase also started this year. By putting our information in the local database, the survey plays an important role in the cultural heritage management of this region, allowing (local) archaeologists to gain a better insight in the past archaeological landscapes and help major sites to be protected from further destruction. Moreover, it will help in the valorization of the most important settlements, which will ultimately be part of a planned archaeological park.