Why did the ancient Trebula rise?
The samnite town Trebula rose as defence centre to
control the pass linking the Campania's plain with the Alife's
This link was possible going through Pontelatone,
Treglia, Liberi, Maiorano di Monte, as far as Dragoni's plain.
Moreover, the growth of Trebula was due to its strategic position:
in fact Trebula rose in an area very important for the links
among South Latium, Campania and Samnium. Some arms and various
objects discovered in the average Volturno valley allowed
to ascertain the existence of cultural and trade contacts
among the zone of Trebula, Cales (Calvi Risorta), Teanum Sidicinum
(Teano) and Rufrae (Presenzano). The strategic aim of samnite
Trebula is obvious if we observe the stately town-walls and
the acropolis of Monticelli hill (477 m) that dominates the
tableland, named "La Corte", where was the ancient town. But
was always such as we know it today the topographic look of
ancient Trebula? That is, was always on the "La Corte" tableland
the built-up area of Trebula? To reply this question we need
to observe what follows: several samnite tombs have been discovered
at feet of "Monticelli" hill and inside the surrounding wall.
Now the Trebulani (the inhabitants of Trebula), as all Samnites,
buried the dead out of the surrounding walls; this means at
first the built-up area wasn't in the tableland but just on
the acropolis of the Monticelli hill. Most likely
at first Trebula rose as simple fortification to control its
Subsequently, because of demographic increase
and persistent threats of the Romans the built-up area shifted
to the tableland. In this way, it was necessary to build the
surrounding wall that delimits it.
Trebula remained indipendent all through the time
of samnite wars;
after the victory over Pirro (272
B.C.) the towns of the Caudini's district (Trebula was a member
of this district) were compelled to make separated treaties
with Rome. This means Trebula became a "civitas foederata"
that is a town allied with Rome but nominally indipendent.
The Tito Livio's news "Arpinatibus Trebulanisque civitas data"
about the citizenship awarded from Romans to Trebulani no
doubt refers to Trebula Suffenas (Ciciliano near Tivoli) (See
Solin). During the second punic war Trebula, with other italic
towns, deserted from Rome allying with Hannibal
but it was reconquered by Fabio Massimo that, in 215 B.C.,
conquered it with Cubulteria (present day Alvignano) and Austicula.
In fact, Cubulteria and Austicula deserted from Rome too (Livio,
XXIII, 39). After the second punic war Trebula remained a
"civitas foederata" until the social war owing to that Rome
awarded the citizenship to all italics. At that very time
Trebula rose a municipium governed by "quattuorviri
. In fact, this kind of the politic
management was the typical magistracy of the municipia born
from ex allied towns. At late imperial age Trebula was governed
by "duoviri" but we don't know the reasons of this change.
The infrastructure of Trebula
It is not easy to establish when grew the roman town, but
it is probable that was put into effect a rational urbanistic
project owing to establishment of the municipium. But we can
recognize different infrastructures. The square (forum)
was at centre-east area of the tableland "La Corte" that borders
the main road Treglia-Liberi (See Fig.1). Instead the
was bringed out during the excavation done
at Treglia at the end of 1800 by Domenico Carafa that was
the prince Michele Carafa's son. It is South-East oriented
(See fig.1) and it is probable that it looked on one of the
streets of the town. We can imagine an hypothetical street
linking the forum with the west gate. The cavea, that is the
area bound to public and made up of semicircular tiers, is
about 30 metres in diameter. The theatre has been dated from
the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. but we can't obtain
a straight checking because it is covered with earth. In front
of the forum, along the carriageway linking Treglia with Campole
locality, there are the thermae
that did to Trebula the "Balliensis" appellative. Plinius
refers to it in his work Naturalis Historia (3,64). The
arised from the springs that are at slopes
of Mount Friento. It fed the thermae and the remainder of
Trebula. Nowadays the two named springs are still existing
and are not very far away one the other. One was named Chorsicon
(Corcica) and the other Chersicon (Ciesco). The aqueduct had
its entry point into the town a little south of the Tora bridge.
Here are still visible the remains of the castellum
, that is the water reservoir (See photo A).
The extent of Trebula and its roads
Fig. 1 - The archaeological map of Trebula Balliensis. In red the town walls, in blue RioMaltempo hill-torrent, in green the main road, in bright orange the gates of the town.
The territory of Trebula bordered on those of Capua, Cales,
Teanum, Cubulteria and Caiatia. It had a considerable extent
judging by Cicero (Lege Agraria, 2, 66) that thinks the trebulanus
ager an area where to buy lots of earth. We can think it coincided
about with the bordering four communes of Pontelatone, Castel
di Sasso, Formicola and Liberi. The Trebula's territory was
linked up with those bordering by branches of the "Via Latina".
The ancient "Via Latina" corresponds to present "Via Casilina"
linking Rome with Capua. The main branch of the "Via Latina"
was that originating from Capua. This branch passed through
the "Greci" plain and, at "Santa Maria a Pietro" it forked
in two branches: the first led to Prea running along Mount
Nizzola towards the East and "Valle dei Morti"; the second,
running along the named mount towards the West led to "Corte
Rosa", Casalicchio and finally to Trebula (See photos B, C
The economy of Trebula
The economic activity of Trebula based oneself upon the agriculture
and the sheep-breeding. The "conciato" cheese
named by Marziale (Epigrammi, XIII, 30) and the wine (trebulanum
named by Plinius the Old (Naturalis Historia, 14, 69) and
arrived at Trebula in Nero's time, were famous. We must considere
the production of pieces of pottery too, because it contributed
to the Trebula's wealth. This is testified by the discovery
of a late-archaic furnace at the slopes of Mount Castello
of Treglia and by the discovery of a roman artisan firm at
"Cervarecce" locality at Pontelatone. The Volturno river certainly
aided the traffic of the wares from the Trebula's plain to
one of the coastal towns. Then the wares were ready to be
bound for the Mediterranean's markets.