Researchers discover possible origin of Trieste, Italy

Discovery of early Roman military camp in Italy could have been the foundation of Trieste, say researchers.

A Roman military camp flanked by two minor forts and likely built in 178 BC may have provided the foundation for the first settlement of Tergeste, the ancestor of Trieste, a study suggests. Federico Bernardini and colleagues used airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), Ground Penetrating Radar, and archaeological surveys to assess the archeological landscape of the Trieste area, located near Italy’s Northeast border with Slovenia. The authors discovered evidence for one of the earliest examples of Roman military fortifications, predating by decades the famous camps of Numantia, Spain. Numerous modern cities along the Mediterranean and through Western Europe developed from ancient Roman army camps.The fortifications discovered in the current study provide the only examples identified in Italy.

The main central camp, called San Rocco, includes an area wider than 13 hectares defended by wide ramparts, strategically located near the Bay of Muggia, a protected natural harbor of the northern Adriatic. Evidence suggests that the Romans likely built San Rocco during the first year of the second Istrian War (178-177 BC), and that the camp’s chronology, position, and size match literary sources, making it a good candidate as the site of the first settlement of Tergeste, according to the authors.


trieste2LiDAR-derived digital terrain model with the location and plan of Grociana piccola, Montedoro, and San Rocco fortifications. Orange represents features reconstructed from photo aerial documentation. Red represents surviving emerging features. The black circles indicate the main pre-Roman sites of the area.Image courtesy of Federico Bernardini.


The detailed report of the study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


Article #14-19175: “Early Roman military fortifications and the origin of Trieste, Italy,” by Federico Bernardini et al.

Source: Adapted and edited from a PNAS press release.


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