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Minor Etruscan town 72 km NW of Rome near the river Vesca. The acropolis is an isolated tufa plateau, ca. 600 m long, surrounded by deep ravines. The site was inhabited in pre-Etruscan times as is shown by the finds of material of the Apennine Bronze Age culture datable ca. 1200-800 B.C. and by the discovery of oval huts of the Iron Age datable in the 8th and the 7th c. B.C. The earliest Etruscan buildings are from ca. 625-600. The town flourished in the 6th and the 5th c. The ancient name of the site is not known. It has been suggested that it is to be identified either with Cortuosa or with Contenebra, two strongholds at the S border of the territory of Tarquinia, captured by the Romans in 388 B.C. (Livy 4.4). During the following centuries, under Roman rule, the acropolis was abandoned. A great number of farms, among them the so-called Villa Sambuco were erected in the environs in the 2d c. B.C. and later. A castle was built on the hill in the 13th c. A.D.

The excavations, in the years 1956-65, have shed light above all on the domestic architecture of central Italy during the archaic period. The houses were built with walls of tufa ashlars or were half-timbered and usually contained two or three rooms. A two-room house, dated ca. 600, has benches of pebbles along the walls of the inner room and is reminiscent of the Tomba della Capanna at Cerveteri. The city plan was irregular. A cluster of houses uncovered in the area named the Borgo is probably typical of the minor settlements of this period in central Etruria. The city wall of tufa blocks was probably erected in the early 4th c. B.C., shortly before the Roman conquest of this region of Etruria. The acropolis is surrounded by large necropoleis of rock-cut chamber tombs: Porzarago and La Staffa to the N, Valle Vesca and Pietrisco to the E, Castellina Camerata to the S, Grotte Tufarine to the W.


O. Rispoli, “Bieda,” NSc 1 (1877) 467ff; E. Berggren, “San Giovenale,” NSc 16 (1960) 1ff; A. Boëthius et al., Etruscan Culture (1962); B. Blomé, “Un inedito insediamento arcaico etrusco in San Giovenale,” Paladio 1-4 (1969) 139ff.

Of the final publication Results of Excavations Conducted by the Swedish Institute at Rome and the Soprintendenza alle Antichità dell'Etruria Meridionale (Acta Instituti Romani Regni Sueciae 4, XXVI), Vol. I is in print (1972):

Topographical introduction and history of excavations. Photogrammetric methods and survey. Tombs. C. E. ÖSTENBERG

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