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TEATE MARRUCINORUM (Chieti) Abruzzi, Italy.

An ancient city under the capital of a province, situated on the right bank of the Pescara river ca. 15 km from the sea. The city spreads over a hill, set between the parallel valleys of the Pescara and Alento rivers, which makes up the W edge of the pliocene terrace that was spread between the Maiella chain and the Adriatic.

Teate's pre-Roman origins can be reconstructed at a cult area evidenced by a very ancient sacred well. However, this center of the Marrucini—a Sabellian tribe which probably assumed the name of a more ancient ethnic group—was preceded by a settlement recently discovered at the base of the Maiella range in the district of Rapino. The present name of that area—Tuta Maruca—is identified with the Touta Marouca cited on a bronze plaque discovered in the vicinity, written in the dialect of the Marrucini and known as the Tavola di Rapino. The oldest settlement shows circuit walls of irregular blocks, and between the walls floors of huts carved into the rock have been discovered. It is probable that the settlement rose on a protected mountain pass toward the country of the Peligni. It is possible that the change in the road system—from mountain passes to a great traffic artery, the Via Valeria, opened between the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian—accounts for the decline of the ancient settlement and the rise to power of those centers which were found along the length of the new road. The cult site, already mentioned, must have been one of them.

The sacred well is set within structures of isodomic work which set apart a sacred area and preserved the well. These structures may be temple buildings, surely prior to the social war and probably dating to the 3d c. B.C. Decorative terracotta elements discovered in the vicinity of those structures may be dated to the following century, as well as terracotta materials that come from one or more of the temples on the highest level of the city, the district of Civitella, set at the S end of the settlement and certainly the Arx Marrucina. That is all that remains of the most ancient phase of Teate, still thought to be in the Italic period.

Under the influence of Rome, the site, which bordered the Via Valeria on both sides, had the traditional urban plan. The district of Civitella still preserves intact the square grid plan with its NW-SE orientation. Along the slopes, in the direction of Pescara, spreads the cavea of the theater, with a diameter of 80 m. It is now supposed that a considerable section of this area was destroyed by the landslides that have occurred from antiquity onward. At the N end of Civitella, two series of temples mark the adjacent sides of the forum. At the SE end of the forum, the Via Valeria crossed and on the opposite side, set into the hill, a series of three temples rose on a prominence. Two temples are identical, while the smallest was apparently constructed at a later date. Because of the characteristic refacing in dichrome opus reticulatum, the two identical temples may be thought to be of the same date as the theater. In the construction of the temples, the oldest structures, already mentioned, were enclosed and they preserved the sacred well.

The baths are situated in the hollow of a small valley at the foot of the SE slopes of the hill. The complex is divided into two major sections: a cistern and the baths proper. The cistern (ca. 60 x 14 m) is partially cut into the hill and displays a front made up of nine apses. On the inside, those correspond to a similar number of chambers joined to one another by means of arches opened in the dividing walls. In front of the cistern runs a level stretch where one descends into a rectangular courtyard around which the rooms of the bath were constructed. The baths may be dated to the middle of the 1st c. A.D.

Throughout the city are numerous water works, canal systems, and cisterns. There is also a grandiose terracing operation between the Palazzo del Governo and the theater—most probably outside the limits of the Roman city—which was destined to form a part of the bath cistern. Except for the chorographers, only Silius (8.552) among the ancient writers mentions Teate. However, the Asinii, who later participated in the struggle against Rome with Asinius Herius, did come from Teate and gave to the Augustan period famous personalities in politics and letters such as Asinius Pollio and Asinius Gallus.

In the Roman organization, Teate had a municipal constitution. Quattuorviri are known, as are aediles, a curator muneris publici, and members of the college of the seviri augustales. With the Augustan division of Italy, Teate became part of Regio IV, Sabina et Samnium, and was enrolled in the tribus Arniense. In the 4th c., it was a part of Flaminia et Picenum and thereafter of Valeria.


V. Cianfarani, “Note di antica e vecchia urbanistica teatina,” Atti del settimo Congresso Internazionale di Archeologia Classica (1961) 295-313; id., “Touta Marouca,” Studi in onore di Aristide Calderini e Roberto Paribeni, III (1956) 311-27.


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