Introduction: e Origins and Evolution of Archaeological Research at Classe
e story and idea that under the ploughed elds south of Ravenna in northeast Italy there lie buried the remains of an ancient, lost city have long been a focus of interest, debate and fascination for both locals and scholars. While some recognition already existed in the Middle Ages, as indicated by a document of 1223 which provides a topographic reference: ‘via que est juxta murellos de civitate Classis’ (‘e roadway which lies next to the walls of the city of Classis’ – see Fantuzzi 1802, 194, but with the ‘murelli’ unlikely to be the old city walls), the voicing of interest is rst explicitly made in the mid-sixteenth-century work Descrittione di tutta Italia by the Bolognese geographer Leandro Alberti, who wrote (1550, 272-3):
Not much later, conrmation of this came from the local historian Girolamo Rossi (1589, 14-15), in his Storie Ravennati:
Both sources (discussed by Ricci 1989, 552-3; Giovannini and Ricci 1985, 60-63) thus oer an image of Classe, once the eet base of the late Roman Western imperial capital of Ravenna, and a city in its own right, as lost. e two scholars drew, of course, from two main sources of information: written ancient and near contemporary texts (in particular the Liber Ponticalis by the Ravennate cleric and historian Agnellus, compiled in the ninth century), which attest and conrm the importance and scale of the port-city, and the material traces, which both document and substantiate the basis of the former sources.