Roman Settlements > Neapolis

Neapolis

Background

The Greco-Roman town of Neapolis was discovered in 2004 due to the excavation of a new subway line which unearthed the settlement dating back to the 7th century BCE. As documented in their study The Natural and Cultural Landscape of Naples (southern Italy) during the Graeco-Roman and Late Antique Periods by Ermolli et. Al (2014) the researchers attempt to survey the ancient landscape which included horticulture, structures and much more.

They analyzed the entire geography of the bay including the trees, plants and other natural features as they existed during ancient times. Archaeologists uncovered structures and shipwrecks which pointed to the use of Neapolis as a port. Discoveries made include a wharf constructed in the 1st century AD, two wooden docks constructed in the 2nd century AD and a shipwreck that dated between the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd century AD.

The discovery of these harbor features points to the idea that the inlet and the coast line were a major point of maritime commerce and activity in the Greco-Roman period. Other major structures discovered include a gymnasium and a temple that were built at the base of the Pendino terrace where it meets a sandy beach. These structures along with the settlement itself point to the lively and bustling nature of the port during the Classical period.

Neapolis Agriculture

See Neapolis Agriculture

Through examining physical evidence such as pollen the archaeologists were able to determine that the settlement cultivated cabbage and other plants of the Brassicaceae family including broccoli and radish. Neapolis agriculture did not include the cultivation of Cereal plants. The archaeological site is broken down into zones where over 400 bore-holes were taken into the ground to determine the geological and botanical composition.

Overall through careful analysis of the precise geography and development of the region from Neolithic times the archaeologists attempt to paint the complete picture of life in ancient Neapolis. The cultivation of cabbage and the prominence of the settlement as a port would decline by the 3rd century AD which was representative of the larger social and political strife occurring throughout the Roman Empire. Geological changes would eventually fill the harbor over the centuries.

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

Ermolli et al. (2014) The natural and cultural landscape of Naples (southern Italy) during the Graeco-Roman and Late Antique periods. Journal of Archaeological Science 42 399e411