Carsulae - Archaeological Park
The Roman town of Carsulae is one of the most important and spectacular archeological sites in Umbria. Located in the province of Terni, it stands on a gently rolling upland plain at the feet of the Martani mountains. Because it was abandoned and untouched by subsequent cultures, it has remained substantially unaltered, allowing a precise reading of its urban layout and buildings. The pavement of the Flaminian Way, which crosses it north to south, has remained intact, and together with the pristine landscape, it creates an enchanting sight evocative of ancient splendor. Along with the beautiful stretch of the Flaminian Way, Carsulae’s other monuments include the two twin temples, the amphitheater, the theater, the Arch of San Damiano, and the monumental tombs.
The ruins of the ancient Roman town of Carsulae are not far from Terni and the small town of Sangemini, known for its mineral water springs. Carsulae rose along the Flaminian Way as a pole of attraction for the pre-Roman peoples living in the hills and the surrounding countryside; the area had in fact been densely populated since the Middle Bronze Age, with settlements at strong positions on hilltops dominating the plains and natural communication routes below. The building of the Flaminian Way in 220-219 BC brought great development to the communities along the way, functioning as a point of reference for the transformation and evolution of their way of life. The traffic moving along this road brought many people into the areas that it crossed, and it is probable that the town of Carsulae was built during this period.
Excavations at the site, carried out haphazardly starting in the 16th century and culminating in the intensive campaigns between 1951 and 1972, unearthed a large number of monuments, buildings and inscriptions, forming a picture of a wealthy and politically active municipium, governed by magistrates, and whose citizens joined together to form trade associations.
The choice of the site was dictated mainly by economic considerations, tied to the presence of a major road carrying traffic between Rome and the Adriatic coast and northern Italy. Moreover, it stood at the edge of a fertile plain, making agriculture profitable. The decline and eventual abandoning of Carsulae was directly related to the loss of importance of the western branch of the Flaminian Way, to the benefit of the eastern branch passing through Interamna (Terni) and Spoletium (Spoleto).
Few traces remain of the republican town-planning stage (the period coinciding with the opening of the road), discovered during the excavation of the forum temple substructures. The definitive layout of the town goes back, however, to the Augustan age, when it became a municipium and was assigned to the Clustumina tribe. The final decline of the town was brought about not only by the transferring of the main route of the Flaminian Way toward the Spoleto plain, and consequently the abandoning of the “Carsulae” branch, but also by natural calamities, including a strong earthquake that caused the collapsing of a number of sinkholes upon which many public and private buildings stood, making the already depauperated site inhospitable. Carsulae is not mentioned as an episcopal see; the only presence of Christianity was the transformation of a Roman building into the church of San Damiano, the home of a small community of nuns.