Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Local Archaeology

 The Roman Bridge

 About 500 metres, as the crow flies, from the western end of our property, beside the river Pesa, but easily accessed via a track leading off the 222 (Chiantigiana road) on the way to Castellina and Piazza, lies a little-known archaeological treat. In his interesting book , Chianti: the Land, the People and the Wine, Raymond Flower called it a Roman bridge and we are inclined to do likewise, although we have little scientific evidence to back us up. 

The Romans inhabited the area, established settlements at Panzano and Castellina and in between, so it is legitimate to imagine that they might have fashioned a  sturdy bridge over the unpredictable, ephemeral Pesa to carry goods, soldiers and arms. 

It is difficult to appreciate the size of the bridge from these photos, but it must have been at least three metres across. Only three sizeable  columns and one arch remain. The central part of the bridge may well have been built of wood. 
In any case, the course of the Pesa has no doubt changed over the centuries, as well as the height of the riverbed, so it is difficult to visualise the whole structure as it might once have been...
If any readers of this blog are familiar with Roman bridge-building techniques, maybe they could leave a comment?

1 comment:

  1. This comment just in from an archaeologist friend: "...most Roman bridges have arches with a steeper curve and finer masonry. Here we are in the country where structures were built in a more rough-hewn manner. The lower arch may indicate a less labor intensive structure used to cross slow flowing river in winter; lower arch is not uncommon. Also a footbridge would have fewer requirements for quality material than a structure in a major urban area. The wedging appears typical. A closer look at the construction may be more revealing..."


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