Aenaria: Roman domination from 1st century B.C. to 4th century A.D.
Around the end of 2nd century B.C. every production activity was suddenly interrupted. A probable new telluric motion paralysed all the laboratories and kilns, stopping commercial relationships. Historical sources only tell us about one eruption in 91 B.C., but thanks to researches carried out on the fossil plains, covered with volcanic material and through some archaeological finds, now we do know, that during the Imperial Roman Age, that goes from Augustus to Diocletian time, the island was stroke by several (four at least) volcanic eruptions and landslides, mudflows and earthquakes.
Before this discovery it had been very difficult to understand why an island like Ischia, rich in hot springs, of which Romans were particularly fond of, was not showing any evidence evidences of either monumental buildings of the Roman baths or high-class houses, which, on the contrary, are in great numbers in the region of Phlegraean Fields, in the area of Pozzuoli, Baia and Miseno. The high risk of earthquakes and eruptions can easily explain why Roman nobility preferred not to establish their residence in Ischia. It can also explain why Augustus managed to get rid of Ischia (which became a property of the Roman State and changed its name in Aenaria) and gave it back to Naples in exchange for Capri, which is only fifth of Ischia for its extension and without hot springs. Capri, rich in Imperial houses and an important reference point for the Roman Empire history, took advantage from this situation. In Aenaria island, on the contrary, there are everywhere humble remains (fragments of common use pottery and poor tombs), rests of a self-willed peasant population who, heedless of the volcanic danger, carried on cultivating this insidious land.
Aenaria, the new toponym given to the island, was often and erroneously connected with Aeneas, the mythical Trojan exile landed on the Latium coast and related to the legend of the origin of Rome. It is correct to say that the etymology of the name derives, since 16th century, from the Latin aenum, meaning bronze or metal in general, and confirms the flourishing metallurgical activity of the new centre of Aenaria, risen on the ruins of Pithekoussai.
The end of 4th century is characterised by the decline of the Roman Empire due to the continuous barbarian invasions. During one of them, the one whose protagonist was Alaric, the king of Visigoths, also Ischia (the last name given to the island coming from the long and slow evolution of the Latin "insula major", "island par excellence") suffered the ravages of this passage sharing the same fate of the other islands of the Gulf of Naples
A cura della dr.ssa Nicoletta Manzi -
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