21 - Mapping Roman Agriculture in Northwest Bolsena


Lillian Ridinger, Illinois State University


My poster presents preliminary results from research conducted on the site of Valle Gianni as part of the Northwest Bolsena Archaeological Project during the summer of 2023. Located near the town of Gradoli in Lazio, Valle Gianni contains the remains of a monumental Roman fountain (nymphaeum) and winepress. Answering questions about the identity and motivations of the nymphaeum’s owner depends on understanding how the construction of the nymphaeum related to the agrarian economy. The goal of this project was to collaborate with Dr. Kathryn Jasper in her work reconstructing ancient agricultural economies and trade networks around the monument. The project sought to create a GIS model of Roman agriculture in the region. Two questions guided the design of the model: Which crops were grown in the region at given in moments in time? And What were the approximate yields of these crops? We attempted to understand premodern approaches to agriculture that could inform a GIS model. As medieval agricultural practices resemble ancient approaches more than modern, we collected data from the oldest documents recording medieval agriculture in northern Lazio from around the year 1000 through 1300. These documents describe property transactions that include references to agriculture, waterways, and natural resources in the region. We concluded that the region historically had both small- and large-scale agriculture but that most of the landscape was broken into small pieces, and relations between landowners and tenants determined the organization of crops.