In this paper, we discuss the presence of volcanic pozzolans in the structural mortars of the Roman Temple of Nora in Sardinia (3rd c. AD), represented by pyroclastic rocks (pumices and tuffs) employed as coarse and fine aggregates. The provenance of these materials from the Phlegraean Fields was highlighted through a multi-analytical approach, involving Polarized Light Microscopy on thin sections (PLM), Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), Quantitative Phase Analysis by X-ray Powder Diffraction (QPA-XRPD), and X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) investigations. These volcanic pozzolans, outcropping in the Bay of Naples between Pozzuoli and the Vesuvius, are traditionally associated with the pulvis puteolana, the famous pozzolanic ash prescribed by Vitruvius and Pliny in order to confer strength and waterproofing capabilities to ancient concretes. This is the first evidence of the trade of this volcanic material from the Neapolitan area to Sardinia, starting at least by the Middle Imperial Age. The use of the pulvis puteolana in the Roman Temple of Nora seems primarily targeted to strengthen above-ground masonries, while waterproofing capabilities were not strictly pursued. This opens new questions about the construction reasons for which the demand and commercialization for this product was intended.
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