The Excavations of San Giovanni di Ruoti, Vol. 3: The Faunal and Plant Remains


258 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-4865-X
DDC 937'.7




Reviewed by Joanne Wotypka

Joanne Wotypka is a branch library assistant in the Cameron Library at
the University of Alberta.


I actually did read this book. Not from cover to cover, mind you, but it
is in its own way an excellent bit of storytelling about a Roman
archaeological site in the Apennines, inhabited from the first century
A.D., for approximately 500 years. For archaeologists and those who
study Roman culture, this volume is an excellent resource. Though this
is only the third volume of a larger whole, it provides enough of an
overview to get a reader comfortable with the details of the settlement
pattern of San Giovanni before diving in with the analysis of plant and
animal remains to “flesh out” the picture.

San Giovanni is located in an amazingly inaccessible spot, and it is
very surprising to read of such a wealth of archaeological evidence
pointing to such a long and (sometimes) prosperous occupation. This is a
tribute not only to the archaeologists who excavated the site, but also
to the Romans, whose relentless empire building tied together even the
most out-of-the-way spots of the lands under their domain.

Both the excavation and this book are extremely methodical, showing the
evolution of this site from simple staging post to important regional
centre. The faunal remains (the study of which takes up the lion’s
share of the book) reveal an incredibly varied diet that eventually
included luxury food imported from far-off points in the Roman Empire
(at more than considerable expense).

One thing that could have been improved upon: I know that it is not
done in scientific publications, but it would have been useful to have
the illustrations integrated into the text, not only to lessen the
page-shuffling, but also to enhance the reader’s experience. The
changes occurring over time with the arrangement and size of the
buildings are complicated, and having a diagram with the text would have
facilitated keeping these changes straight.

This book on its own is a considerable asset (though the companion
volumes would be needed for a serious study of the site), and as the
volume introduction states, the work appeals “to both the specialist
and the layperson.”


MacKinnon, M.R., “The Excavations of San Giovanni di Ruoti, Vol. 3: The Faunal and Plant Remains,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,