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+39 0736 253562
Piazza Arringo, 28 - 63100 Ascoli Piceno
+39 0736 253562
Piazza Arringo, 28 - 63100 Ascoli Piceno

The Romanisation


Not yet Romans but no longer Piceni; this phrase could summarise the period between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. In an area still influenced by tradition, as evidenced by the typical Picene ollas with small handles near the rim, new fashions linked to contacts with the Tyrrhenian area were spreading. In fact, since the Bronze Age (2300 – 1000 BC) the upper valley of the River Tronto has been a privileged communication route between the two sides of the Apennines. Pottery produced in the upper Adriatic area, in northern Puglia and in Lazio made their appearance. The first evidence of the Latin alphabet on pottery fragments, which have engraved letters, is probably linked to the still entirely Picene cult of the goddess Ancharia. 
Relations between Piceni and Romans were changeable; military alliances to fight common enemies (Samnites and Gauls Senoni) contrasted with violent clashes that culminated in the Social War (91-89 BC) in which Ascoli and the other Italic allies (the socii, from which the name of the war derives) were defeated and definitively incorporated into the political organisation of the Roman State. 

Master pieces

Reliefs depicting slingers

Unknown provenance
Limestone – 1st century BC

The slab depicts five figures that are identifiable as funditores, i.e. slingers.  These formed a specialised unit of the Roman army (but also of the Italic armies) that was charged with throwing missiles by means of fundae, i.e. slings.

The five men only wore a sublicaculum (a sort of loincloth) that was fastened with a large belt whose sides hang in the centre. On the right hand, they hold a thin strip of leather or cloth that made the sling; on the left hand, they carry an object in the shape of a sphere that is considered to be an acorn missile.   These were tapered lead bullets; in some cases, they have some inscriptions showing legions name or insults to the enemy.  These weapons have been heavily used during the Social War and civil wars in the 1st century BC.

Three of these figures are depicted standing still in a frontal pose; the one in the middle and on the right is caught moving. The rendering is quite simplified and characteristic of the “Italic” taste, which was more interested to the immediacy of the message rather than to its naturalism.

Traces of red colouring are still visible in the background.

The relief may be linked to a celebratory or funerary monument, but it is certainly related to the events of the Social War.

 

Milestone

Ascoli Piceno – Fiorana Valley
Travertine 2nd century BC

Street sign in the shape of a truncated cone on a parallelogram basis. This piece is commonly know as “of Porchiano” because of the name of the nearest area to the site where it was found.  It was leaning against the wall of a crumbling farmhouse from where it was moved to the museum in 2009 thanks to the synergy among Archaeological Superintendency of the Marche Region, the FAI delegation from Ascoli Piceno and some stubborn teachers from high schools of the city.

The milestone reports on the opening (or the arrangement) of a road that ran from the River Tronto valley towards south, and that penetrated the northern area of Ascoli territory in order to allow a better connection with the Roman colony of Firmum or with the southern inner area of Picenum.

It has a three-line inscription that is the oldest ever found in the Ascoli territory.  The inscription includes the name of Cneo Stazio, who is identified as prefect, and the number 3, which indicates the distance in miles between the discovery site and Ascoli.  

The presence of a Roman official (the prefect) in a city that was still free at that moment is thought to be an interference of Rome in an independent territory. Instead, another hypothesis concerns the implementation of a joint project set up within the framework of an agreement between Rome and the allied community of Asculum.

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