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Excavation

  • S. Gaetano di Vada
  • Rosignano Marittimo
  • Vada Volaterrana
  • Italy
  • Tuscany
  • Provincia di Livorno
  • Rosignano Marittimo

Summary (English)

  • Investigations in the locality of S. Gaetano began in 1982. These brought to light part of Vada Volterrana, the most important Roman port on the stretch of coast between Portus Pisanus and Populonium, with links to Volterrae as its name suggests. It is probable that the city already had an efficient harbour system in the 7th century B.C., as attested by imported wares from the Mediterranean found at Volterra, however no evidence of this has been documented to date. Vada was also well connected to the road network: the city stood near the Via Aurelia, Etruria’s main coastal road.

    The Roman city extended from the piazza to at least the outskirts of modern Vada: the limit may have been constituted by several cemetery areas, datable to the 2nd century B.C. and the 2nd-4th century A.D., in the localities of Il Conventaccio and Il Poggetto. The northern sector of the settlement must have reached at least as far as the modern quarter of S. Gaetano. Here, in the late 1st century A.D. a uniform quarter was built, of which two bath complexes (A, D), a horreum (B), an aula ( C ), a monumental fountain (E), a schola (F) and two buildings interpretable as another schola (G) and a macellum (H) have been uncovered. In some areas of this quarter, below the Roman stratigraphy, evidence of the occupation and subsequent abandonment of a hut village (including wooden posts, plaster and impasto vessels) was found. Its chronology falls within the period between the 9th-1st century B.C. The village was covered by a stratum of coastal material which formed following a sudden rise in the sea level. This rise was short-lived however; in the 1st century A.D. structures were built on the newly emerged dunes.

    The excavation data shows that restructuring was undertaken both in the mid Imperial and late antique periods, following a phase of partial abandonment during which numerous burials occupied part of the structures. One of these dates to the 3rd century A.D., the terminus post quem for the late restructuring, which concords with the pottery and coins found in the layers formed during the successive occupation phase of the buildings. During the 6th century A.D. the area was progressively abandoned and occupied by a necropolis with burials, containing objects of personal ornament, datable to between the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 8th century A.D. This is the same date given by finds from later occupation levels and from the fill of wells and drainage channels.

    The small bath complex faced west onto the beach and to the east abutted the horrea. East of the baths was an open space, interpretable as a gymnasium, flanked by a portico (of which the foundations of the pilasters are conserved). In some rooms there were the remains of mosaic paving and marble revetment.

    The horrea were rectangular in plan, with a central porticoed courtyard. They had 34 cellae arranged symmetrically along the east and west sides and beaten clay floors. The entrance was to the south, on the port side. The structural characteristics and the absence of mineralized or carbonized grain, although excluding their use as granaria, suggests that these were warehouses for storing pottery vessels and food stuffs contained in amphorae.

    South-east of the horrea was a square structure Aula C: perhaps a building belonging to one of the collegia connected with the port’s activities. Its foundations were in opus caementicium upon which were traces of the exterior walls, and which were abutted by five pilasters which supported the vaulted roof.

    Of the Large Baths (D) two praefurnia, the tepidarium, the calidarium, the laconium/sudatio, the frigidarium, the _gymnasium _and service rooms have been uncovered. All were richly decorated (mosaics, precious marble wall veneers and pavements). A statue of Attis was found, whose iconography is datable to the first half of the 2nd century A.D. and is attributable to a near eastern workshop.

    A monumental fountain (E), built in opus caementicium, was situated to the north-west of the Large Baths. It had a square pool facing north in the direction of the horrea and a crescent-shaped pool to the south facing the porticoed entrance to the baths. Subsequently, this pool was demolished and the square pool raised in height.

    Structure F was a single room, with the entrance to the east, in the centre of which was a square feature interpretable as an altar or the base of a votive statue. This was surrounded on three sides by an open area and a corridor with tile pavement. On the north and south sides four rectangular rooms opened onto this courtyard. On the eastern side of the portico were two symmetrical exedra. Two wells were excavated inside which were animal bones. As regards its function, the presence of elements linked both to cult aspects, reception (courtyard with portico and monumental entrance with exedra and niches) and utilitarian functions (8 rectangular rooms opening onto the courtyard), suggests that it may have been a schola or the seat of a collegium.

    The 2006 campaign extended the investigation of building H (the so-called macellum ). Its well organized plan, was characterized by a large open area where various service activities were located, a central monumental building, and a second structure linked to the latter. The extension of the excavation in the north western sector of building G, perhaps another reception structure (a schola ), revealed two distinct phases. The first of Flavian date was characterized by the presence of an open area and a pool (public fountain?) fed by pressurized piping. In phase two the pool went out of use when a wall was built to support the roof of a portico. At right angles to this covered structure was another, also roofed, as attested by the presence of a sequence of post holes. The structural relationship between building G and complex H suggests that the buildings were constructed around a communal space, with the reception and utilitarian functions typical of an area situated to the rear of a port.

  • MiBAC 

Director

  • Marinella Pasquinucci - Università degli Studi di Pisa, Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche del Mondo Antico

Team

  • Silvia Ducci - Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana
  • Marinella Pasquinucci - Università degli Studi di Pisa, Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche del Mondo Antico
  • Simonetta Menchelli - Università degli Studi di Pisa, Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche del Mondo Antico

Research Body

  • Università degli Studi di Pisa, Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche del Mondo Antico

Funding Body

  • Università degli Studi di Pisa, Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche del Mondo Antico

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