Postgraduate Research Archaeology Symposium

Felix Pedrotti (2016)

Keywords: Landscape, Po River, Sedimentation, Navigation, Fluvial Network


The delta of the Po River represents a significant centre of Italian seafaring and cultural development.  It is characterised by a complex maritime landscape, where human interaction, historical events and environmental changes were firmly interrelated. Hence the evolution of this delta plays a decisive part in broader historical and social developments. This presentation will trace the evolution of the Po delta and outline its development from a natural to anthropogenically controlled space.

The formation of the Po plain can be traced back to the late Neogene, when it was entirely submerged and open to the Adriatic Sea. Throughout the following Millennia the plain witnessed countless fluctuations in sea level, a trend further complicated by sedimentation processes, forming an 8000-Metre-thick deposit sequence. With relative stabilisation of sea-level change over the last 4000 years the Po and its deltas prograded out into the Adriatic.  During this period its fluvial network bore witness to dynamic sedimentation processes and anthropogenic activity, dramatically altering the deltas behaviour and affordances to mariners.

The extent and nature of these developments means that if we wish to understand historical processes within the Po plain, first we need to reconstruct the theatre within which it took place.