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A Brief History
In the period before its conquest by Rome, Sutri (lat. Sutrium) was considered a small centre with no specific role and was part of the Falerii and Veii territories, even though there are no clues (either literary or archaeological) that would indicate that Sutri fell within the sphere of Faliscan influence or that they had any dependence on the important Etruscan centre of Veii (Italian: Veio).
It is only from the 5th century BC, in relation to Roman expansion into Etruscan and Falisci territory, that the role of Sutri became more defined. With the fall of Veii in 396 BC, Sutri, as with the nearby Nepi, became part of the
Roman Empire, and was used by the Romans as a defence border.
Following the sack of Rome by the Gauls the Etruscans saw a new opportunity to grab Sutri back, but Sutri was re-conquered by the Romans who attacked at lightning speed at the command of Furio Camillo.
Occupied by the Lombards in 568, Sutri was conquered again by the Byzantines; successively taken back by the Lombard king Liutprand, and donated to Pope Gregory II in 728. In 1111 Sutri was seat of an important and decisive meeting between Holy Roman Emperor Henry V and Pope Pasquale II during which an historically significant agreement was reached – known as Iuramentum Sutrinum – which would aim to see an end to investiture controversy: an Emperor would no longer be able to choose his own clerics, and the Church, in exchange, would have to recognise the Emperor’s authority, thus separating earthly power and power over man (the Emperor) from spiritual power and power over men's souls (the Pope).
In the course of the 13th and 14th centuries Sutri is strongly linked to two political factions: the Guelphs and the Ghibellines in the perennial battle for possession of the town. In 1264 Pietro dei Prefetti Di Vico conquered the hamlet (borgo) and the castle. Sutri was only completely free in 1332.
The Roman Amphitheatre
The structure is built entirely from tuff and dates to the period between the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 1st century BC. It was rediscovered during the first half of 1800’s when locals decided to excavate the area (1835 and 1838). Similar to the Flavian Amphitheatre of Rome (Coliseum) it displayed various types of decoration (niches, statues, columns) today only partially conserved. The plan of the layout is of elliptical form composed of 3 orders of steps and had a capacity for more than 9000 people. Sometimes concerts are held here during the Summer.
Mithraeum: first an Etruscan tomb, then a pagan temple dedicated to the god Mitra, successively a Christian church, initially dedicated to Michael Archangel then to the Madonna del Parto.
It holds over 2600 years of history which can be seen and felt in the inner design, the cave paintings and the mystery which it emanates.
The structure’s features are intact, as with many places linked to the cult of Mithras (pictured):