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SULMO (Sulmona) Abruzzi, Italy.

The city is situated near the S extremity of the territory inhabited by the Paeligni, on a plateau delimited by the rivers Gizio and the Vella, near their confluence. Together with Corfinium and Superaequum, Sulmo was one of the principal centers of the Paeligni population, maintaining its importance into the mediaeval period. No traces of the Paeligni settlement remain, but the conspicuous number of burials found in the area demonstrate that the population must have been distributed in numerous pagi of modest size. The first inhabited center at Sulmo must have been similar to these, but it must have become more important than the other settlements in the last centuries of the Republic because of its position on the road that led to Samnium. In the 1st c. B.C. after the social war, Sulmo was designated a municipium under the Roman state.

The plan of the ancient city is recognizable in the orthogonal arrangement of the network of medieaval streets at the center of the modern urban center. The urban area is almost square ca. 400 m to the side (Ovid, Am. 3.15.12: moenia quae campi iugera pauca tenent).

Outside the city on the slopes of Mt. Morrone, near the Abbey of S. Spirito, are the ruins of a large sanctuary built on terraces. Because of its massive bulk the building has always been partially visible, and the mediaeval tradition identified it with the poteche di Ovidio, linking it with the native poet. Excavations have revealed the religious character of the monument and its pertinence to the cult of Hercules Curinus. The complex is arranged on two artificial terraces oriented SW, but not precisely aligned. The upper terrace, which is earlier, is built against the rocky side of the mountain and is sustained by a mighty wall in polygonal work that is 4.25 m high. On the shelf-like area, built against the back wall, is a chapel in which votive gifts with inscribed bases have been found. In front of the entrance was a votive altar in bronze. The lower terrace, which is larger, is constructed of masonry and follows the architectural plan common in the sanctuaries of Latium in the 1st c. B.C. The front of the terrace, which is 13.7 m above ground level at its highest point, is supported by vaulted chambers; and the lower parts rest on a filled wall faced with alternating courses of opus incertum and opus reticulatum.


EAA 7 (1966) 555-57 (A. La Regina); id., Quaderni dell'Istituto di Topografia Antica dell'Università di Roma 2 (1966) 107-16; H. Blanck, AA (1970) 344-46; F. van Wonterghem, AntCl 42 (1973) 36-48; id., Documenti di Antichità Italiche e Romane, II (Soprintendenza alle Antichità degli Abruzzi, 1973); id., Forma Italiae (Paeligni).

In preparation. A. LA REGINA

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