Archaeological research in Mariana (Corsica)

Start - End 
2004 - 2013 (ongoing)
Department of Archaeology
Research group(s) 



The Roman colony of Mariana was founded at the beginning of the first century BC, by Marius. The importance of the site was recognized by 19th century local historians and the first excavations took place around 1930. In the 1960s and 1970s, some cemeteries west and east of the city were excavated and archaeological digs concentrated on the area immediately south of ‘La Canonica’, the former cathedral and the most prominent monument on the site today. Here were found remains of an early Christian basilica (predecessor of the current church), a baptisterium and other early Christian buildings along a re-used Roman street with a portico, parts of houses and shops.

Research in this area was restarted since 2000, within a European joint venture, composed of French, Italian and Belgian universities. This joint project, directed by Prof. Philippe Pergola (Aix-en-Provence), aimed to study the now abandoned city site of Mariana and the lower valley of the Golo river from the Iron Age to the late Middle Ages.

As part of this program, the objective of the Ghent University research (directed by Prof. Frank Vermeulen), in collaboration with the University of Cassino (Prof. Cristina Corsi), is to study the topography and development of the Roman town of Mariana, in relation with the surrounding Roman countryside. This work is mainly based on survey (aerial photography, artifact surveys, geophysical prospection) and cartographic research, but also on limited, targeted excavations.

Using these techniques a first hypothesis was proposed for the exact location of the city wall, and part of the urban pattern of the agglomeration. Especially the high resolution georadar surveys (by Dr Lieven Verdonck) resulted in the identification of a main portion of the road network, several residential and possibly some public city areas. Small  test excavations in 2006-2007 yielded a number of architectural structures, which can be dated in several phases between the 1st-3rd century AD. The results of all these studies are being drawn into a new local archaeological museum.