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Early Roman Expansion and the Colonisation of the Pontine Marshes (Lazio, Central Italy)
Early Roman Expansion and the Colonisation of the Pontine Marshes (Lazio, Central Italy)

Early Roman Expansion and the Colonisation of the Pontine Marshes (Lazio, Central Italy)

A free talk by Gijs Tol, A/Prof. of Roman Archaeology, The University of Melbourne. Presented by The University of Melbourne and CO.AS.IT. Museo Italiano for National Archaeology Week.

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21 May 2024, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

CO.AS.IT. Museo Italiano, 199 Faraday St, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia


The Pontine Marshes (Pomptinae Paludes) is a former wetland in the Lazio region of Italy. It is generally considered to have been unsuited for large-scale habitation and agricultural exploitation until the area was reclaimed and colonized during the co-called bonifica integrale of the Italian fascist regime in the 1920s-30s. However, the area has a much deeper history. The ancient sources mention many attempts to reclaim – often unsuccessfully – this infamous marshland, including those by Roman consuls and emperors and several popes.

Archaeological work by the Pontine Region Project (PRP), a research project carried out by the Universities of Melbourne and Groningen (The Netherlands), has over the past 15 years provided rich evidence for an even more ancient and much more successful (but completely forgotten) reclamation effort, dating to the late 4th century BCE. These works had clear economic and military objectives in a period when the burgeoning city state of Rome started to expand its power towards the south of Italy.

Gijs Tol currently works as an Associate Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Melbourne. Before coming to Melbourne in 2016, he obtained his PhD from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) in 2012, and subsequently worked as a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at the same institution. His main research interest lies in the study of Roman (rural) society. He currently leads landscape archaeological fieldwork in the Pontine Plain (Lazio, Italy) and co-directs excavations at the Early Imperial period artisanal centre of Podere Marzuolo in Tuscany.


This is a free talk (booking required) held at CO.AS.IT. Museo Italiano, 199 Faraday Street, Carlton.

Part of a program to celebrate National Archaeology Week, co-presented by The University of Melbourne, Hellenic Museum and CO.AS.IT. Museo Italiano. Visit the program hub to explore other free events.

Image: Leonardo da Vinci’s plans of the Pontine region drawn in 1514–15 as part of his work for a papal scheme to drain the marshes. Royal Collection Trust.

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