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Lucus: sacred wood discovered by Olivieri The small wood and the area around Il Pignocco have been identified as one of the most important archaeological site in Pesaro

 Thanks to a recent research, the Lucus Pisaurensis has been identified on the north-eastern slopes of the Colle della Salute (Hill of the Health). A lucus was a wood consecrated to the divinities by the ancient Romans. Here they made offerings and sacrifices when asking for intervention of the gods or to thank them for received benefits. With the advent of Christianity, sacred woods were gradually abandoned or destroyed. In 1737 Annibale degli Abbati Olivieri, owner at the time of the farmhouse Il Pignocco, announced that he had discovered the votive complex of a very ancient sacred place, the Lucus Pisaurensis, about a mile outside Pesaro. The material that Abbati found consisted of thirteen inscriptions in antique characters and language bordering with the Etruscan, innumerable metal and terracotta votive offerings and coin offerings dating from the most ancient to the Roman times.

 

Discovery of Lucus Pisaurensis

The news of the discovery has been hailed by experts of the time of Olivieri to the present day as being of great historical, epigraphic, linguistic and cultural importance. Olivieri indicated the site of the discovery in a field a mile out of Pesaro, near the church and village Santa Veneranda, under the Collina di Calibano, which has long been owned by his family. On the basis of this information, an area can be circumscribed corresponding approximately to the locality known as Sotto le Selve (Under the Woods). The various lines of research converge to give the same result. It has been possible to identify the field in part at the top and in part on the north-eastern slope of the Colle della Salute (Hill of the Health), between Santa Veneranda and San Pietro in Calibano (today villa Fastiggi), near the small church of San Gaetano.

 

Female Gods and cult of waters

The sanctuary was connected with gods of health and particularly with the cult of waters. The inhabitants of the area still remember the fontanine (little fountains) where they used to draw water, because it was particularly good. These fountains were on the north-eastern side, at the foot of the small church of San Gaetano but were drained in 1963. An archaeological research and a campaign of geophysical prospecting have identified the famous Lucus Pisaurensis in the wood next to the villa Il Pignocco. 

There is evidence that since the third century B.C. the lucus was frequented, and it disappeared in the Middle Ages. The religious character of the lucus Pisaurensis was mainly female. The wooded surroundings and the existence of gods presiding over health recall the presence of water. The recovered altars represent human and animal figures and are proof of offerings made by individuals. An exception is a dedication which leads us to suppose that here, as in Rome, the matrons turned to the gods for biological and demographic protection of the community.