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il guerriero di Capestrano

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il territorio dei vestini

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le vie romane antiche

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pianta mediovale

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Pescara odierna


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Domenico Buccella

In 1934, a farm laborer plowing vineyard fields in the vicinity of Capestrano (not far from Loreto Aprutino) came across a sculpted stone disk and what appeared to be a nearly life-size torso carved out of local limestone. The find attracted the attention of archaeologists who identified the pieces as works of native Italic sculpture datable to the pre-Roman period of the Adriatic coast. An excavation was soon begun, the result of which was the important discovery of the life-sized standing figure known today as the Warrior of Capestrano. Dated to the 6th century B.C. the statue represents a Vestini king named Naevius Pompuledius.

The figure of the statue is that of a well-preserved male warrior over two and a half meters tall. On the head, as a separate piece, the figure wears a wide-brimmed disk-shaped helmet. With arms folded across the chest, and wearing a disk-type armor protecting the chest and back (in the Samnite fashion), a short sword, knife, and axe, a necklace and armlets, a stiff apron over the groin with a shorter version covering the small of the back and a pair of sandals on the feet, this spectacular discovery shined a light on the remote history of the region from where our ancestors came.

In the 9th century B.C. during the late Iron Age, when the Romans were but a small farming tribe living in huts near the Tiber, Italy was teeming with a variety of distinctive cultures and languages. Generally referred to as the Italic peoples, the ancient tribes of pre-Roman Italy originally sprang for the most part from one indigenous stock, sometimes referred to as the Sabines. Over the course of time, and with the eventual infiltration of fresh immigrants, evolution took place eastward across the mountains until the Adriatic slopes of the Apennines were populated by a dozen or so distinct tribes. All of them spoke very similar dialects of a language called Oscan; closely akin to Latin and descended from a mother tongue called Sabellic.

One of these so-called Italic tribes were the Vestini, an ancient Sabine people who occupied the area of modern-day Abruzzo between the Gran Sasso and the northern bank of the Aterno (Pescara) river. Their main centers were Pitinum (near modern L'Aquila), Aufinum (Ofena), Peltuinum (Prata d'Ansidonia), Pinna (Penne) and Aternum (Pescara). Since many of the people and place names found in antiquity are direct references to the gods of ancient mythology, it is probable the Vestini were worshipers of Vesta, the virgin goddess of hearth, home, and family.

The Italic tribes, including the Vestini, were fierce people and were often at odds with one another. Among them the Samnites stood out. Much is known about the Samnites since many Roman writers, namely Livy and Pliny, recorded accounts of the Roman expeditions against them, describing them vividly as fearless and stubborn foes. From the fourth century B.C. when Rome started its expansion to the Abruzzo territory the Italic tribes resisted this threat to their sovereignty for many decades. The final outcome of this struggle was very much in doubt throughout the duration of the Samnite Wars (343 to 290 B.C.) The Romans, however, utilizing patience, arms, engineering and political savvy methodically worked their way across the Apennines, and one-by-one the Oscan-speaking peoples fell.

The Vestini, perhaps having witnessed the more violent subjugation of their fellow tribes to the west, entered into the Roman alliance in 302 B.C. They retained a measure of local independence (a hallmark of Roman rule) and issued coins of their own in the following century. But Rome was never far away; collecting tribute, conscripting young men into military service, and establishing colonies at Alba Fucens in 303 B.C. and Hadria (modern-day Atri) in 290 B.C. They solidified their control of the region through the construction of a sophisticated system of Roman roads. This included the Via Tiburtina, which began at the Porta San Lorenzo in Rome and continued through Tivoli, where it became the Via Valeria and extended across the whole of Abruzzo to ancient Aternum (Pescara).

During the First World War, the Italian soldiers who hailed from the Abruzzi had a reputation for bravery and fearlessness. Given their long ancestry from the proud and stubborn Italic peoples of pre-Roman Italy, it is no surprise. To this day, the people of Abruzzo retain an independence and self-sufficiency that others admire, yet cannot fully comprehend. There is a saying which describes the people of Abruzzo well... "forte e gentile".

Strong, yet kind. There is no more fitting description of these people, who represent our cultural and genetic roots. For more information on the history of the Abruzzo, please click here.

2009 Guerino Anthony Buccella. Per favore scrivimi con osservazioni o domande su questo website: [email protected]