previous next

MINTURNAE (Minturno) Italy.

On the right (and left) bank of the Liris river separating Latium from Campania, 2 km from the sea. Minturnae was originally an Ausonian town (7 c. B.C.) of which no archaeological traces have been found, but it was presumably on or near the Roman site. Roman sources first mention it in 340 B.C. (Livy 8.10). In 313 it was captured by Rome with great slaughter. Two years later the Via Appia was laid through the (unoccupied?) present site, and in 295 a Roman colony was settled on the right bank astride the Appia in a rectangular castrum (ca. 3 ha) with a polygonal limestone wall of which some bedding remains. The castrum itself is essentially unexplored, but the area seems too small to accommodate an intramural forum; possibly its earliest forum (63 x 50 m) lay slightly W of the castrum and opened S onto the Appia.

Before 207 B.C., perhaps in connection with the Hannibalic wars, the city had been greatly extended W and S by a new ashlar tufa wall with square and pentagonal towers 14.7 m apart, and a W gate.

Meanwhile, after the presumed fire of 191 the forum was rebuilt with a double colonnade on E, N and W. In the W half a freestanding three-cella temple, presumably the Capitolium, now faced S onto the Appia. This forum and a considerable additional area were again destroyed by fire later than 65 B.C. but before ca. 45; an important expiatory bidental was consecrated in the forum; the Capitolium, now in limestone, and the colonnade were rebuilt by a presumed colonization of Julius Caesar's veterans, perhaps as early as the First Triumvirate though possibly not for some years; and a new single-cella Temple B in tufa, with a large colonnaded temenos, was built E of the forum astride the foundations of the old castrum wall. Later a small temple was placed E of Temple B and another was installed at the S end of the W temenos colonnade with consequent suppression of the pomerial streets.

Augustus again colonized veterans, and he or Tiberius added the most conspicuous present monuments of Minturnae, the aqueduct which entered the city at the W gate bringing water from the Monti Aurunci 11 km away, and a theater for about 4600 persons. The theater was located in an open area immediately N of the forum, of which the outside of the N wall now served as the scaena, and the cavea extended out across the Hannibalic (?) ashlar N city wall, of which traces are found under the theater arches.

At the same time or perhaps as late as A.D. 30 Temple A, perhaps dedicated to Rome and Augustus and embellished with a statue of Tiberius or Augustus, was placed in the E half of the forum, likewise fronting S onto the Appia; the revetment of its podium included a unique series of 29 reused dedicatory inscriptions (altars?), mostly datable between 90 and 64 B.C., listing freed and slave magistri and magistrae of several local cults.

At some point the Republican forum was outgrown and a larger imperial forum was installed opposite it across the Via Appia. This area is unexcavated except for a long E colonnade and the so-called L Street leading to the vaulted substructures of an otherwise unidentified Temple L of the late 1st c. A.D., and except for a small area in the center which yielded a deposit of wasters of a Campanian potter of ca. 200 B.C., and except for extensive baths and shops near the NW corner, fronting on the Via Appia, and some shops on the rear (S) side across L Street from Temple L. These last groups and some other details result from post-WW II excavations. During Hadrian's reign alterations modernized and embellished the scaena of the theater and well-houses were installed at the S ends of the E and W colonnades of the Republican forum, which was now wholly closed to traffic by walls and a propylon.

In 1966-67 and 1971 underwater excavations and land explorations showed wooden pilings and concrete rubble remains of Cicero's pons Tirenus (or Teretinus?) carrying the Appia over the Liris directly from the castrum, and another road (to Arpinum?) turning N from the castrum by a long causeway on the right bank toward another Roman bridge and cemetery. A variety of concrete blocks, amphorae, etc. was found upstream from the modern bridge; downstream an area 250 m long off the right bank was characterized by a ledge of concretion containing some marble sculpture of no outstanding interest, terracottas including votive offerings, common pottery and sigillata, sufficient keys and bolts to suggest a locksmith's shop nearby, an astounding amount of lead, hooks, and weights connected with fishing, and 2229 coins (270 B.C-ca. A.D. 450, with heaviest representation between 27 B.C. and A.D. 192). All this is evidence of a busy quay during several centuries.

About 1 km downstream the sanctuary of den Marica dates back to Ausonian times. A tufa temple in Italic, not Greek, tradition was built ca. 500 B.C.; ex votos, however, become common only ca. 350 B.C., with a hiatus between ca. 200 and 100 B.C—fluctuations attributed to varying prosperity. Toward the end of the 1st c. A.D. the temple was rebuilt and perhaps dedicated to Isis; it was apparently abandoned after Marcus Aurelius.

Marius escaped to, and from, Minturnae. Cicero often passed through it. It is mentioned frequently in ancient sources, though rarely after Tacitus, with final mentions by Procopius regarding A.D. 548 and by Gregory I regarding the Langobard destruction in 590. From the 8th c. on it served as a quarry for Traetto nearby, and later for Cassino.

Major unexcavated and/or unpublished monuments include the imperial forum, walls, and gates (see Richmond's discussion), the amphitheater, Temple B, ca. 200 m of reticulate docks and shipways on the Liris, the theater (except for Aurigemma's description and plans), the aqueduct (except for Butler's description and photographs), and the left-bank dependencies of the city.

Sculptures are now at Zagreb, Philadelphia, and a small museum on the site; other objects are in the Naples Museum.


H. C. Butler, AJA 5 (1901) 187-92 (aqueduct); J. Brunsmid, Vjesnik Hrvatskoga Arheoloskoga Drustva 7-9 (1903-7) and 11-12 (1910-12) (sculptures)I; G.-Q. Giglioli, Ausonia 6 (1911) 60-71 (sanctuary of Marica); J. Johnson, Excavations at Minturno II, pt. 1 (1933) (magistri inscriptions and literary testimonia)I; id., Excavations at Minturno I (1935)PI (Republican forum; coins by I. Ben-Dor; reviewed by L. R. Taylor, AJA 40 [1936] 284-85 and I. A. Richmond, JRS 27 [1937] 291-92); id., “Minturnae” in RE Suppl. VII (1940) 458-94; E. T. Newell, “Two Hoards from Minturno,” NNM 60 (1933)I; I. A. Richmond, JRS 23 (1933) 154-56 (west gate)P; L. Crema, BStM 4 (1933-34) 22-44 (sculptures)I; A. K. Lake, “Campana Supellex, The Pottery Deposit at Minturno,” BStM 5 (1934-35) 97-114I; A. Adriani, NSc (1938) 159-226 (sculptures)I; P. Mingazzini, MonAnt 37 (1938) 696-983 (sanctuary of Marica)I; H. Comfort, AJA 47 (1943) 313-30 (terra sigillata)I; S. Aurigemma, “Gaeta-Formia-Minturno,” Itinerari dei Musei, Gallerie et Monumenti d'Italia no. 92 (1964)PI; Bro. S. D. Ruegg, AJA 72 (1968) 172; B. W. Frier, Historia 18 (1968) 510-12 (pons Teretinus); id. & A. Parker, NC 7 (1970) 89-109.


hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 10
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: