Tour des Fouilles (1): Mariana

One thing classical archaeologists often get a bit nervous about is an old church standing in the middle of the fields without any settlement surrounding it. Especially if the church is not called a church, but a cathedral, and tends towards monumentality. Quite often, this points to an ancient town that has vanished - the only thing remaining is the church, which often has origins in late antiquity at the very latest. Precisely this is what we'll encounter at today's stage - some 25 kilometers before the finish, close to the airport of Bastia - when we pass  along the medieval cathedral of Lucciana (map): it stands on top of the Roman town of Mariana. 

Mariana: Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-de-l'Assomption de Lucciana -

A small excavated area is directly next to the church - it shows part of a street, with, in front, the foundations of, indeed, a late antique church, but more of the town has become known recently through Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey by Ghent University (publication). It shows how the town had, like most towns founded by the Romans, a regular street grid, which still determines the course of the modern Route de la Canonica. The town was, it seems, named after its founder, the famous late Republican Roman general Marius, in 93 BCE.

Mariana: Interpretation of GPR-survey - [source]

There were few Roman cities on Corsica - and the two most important ones - Mariana and Aleria - were on the east coast of the island. This points to one of the things that you'd easily forget because Corsica has been French since the mid 18th century, is that Corsica is so close to Italy, and historically, has stronger communication lines with the Italian peninsula than with the French mainland. 


Verdonck, L.; Vermeulen, F. (2009) 'GPR survey at the Roman town of Mariana (Corsica)'. Archéosciences 33, 241-243.