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  • Villa di Poggio del Molino
  • Poggio del Molino, Populonia
  • Italy
  • Tuscany
  • Provincia di Livorno
  • San Vincenzo



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Summary (English)

  • The villa of Poggio del Molino is placed, on the northern side of a headland that acts as a watershed between the beach of Rimigliano in the north and the Gulf of Baratti in the south, in the heart of what was once the territory of one of the most important Etruscan cities, Populonia, overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea. The city was for centuries one of the most flourishing centers of iron smelting and trade all over the Mediterranean.

    The main objective of the project is to fill as many of the gaps as possible in our knowledge of the history of Populonia and its territory from the early Roman period to the Middle Ages, starting from an important settlement in the Tuscan coast: the villa of Poggio del Molino. We decided to focus our research on the PdM villa because it gives us extraordinary evidence about a “dark period” in Populonia history: the villa was built at the beginning of the 1st century C.E. (when the main city of Populonia started to fall in ruin and be abandoned for unknown reasons) and it is still one of the best evidences in the area about the following centuries, since the villa was continuously inhabited until the beginning of the 6th century C.E.
    Lo scopo principale del progetto è quello di colmare quante più lacune possibili della nostra conoscenza sulla storia del territorio dall’inizio del periodo romano al medioevo a partire da un importante insediamento della costa toscana: la villa di Poggio del Molino. Abbiamo deciso di concentrare la nostra attenzione sulla villa, perché ci fornisce una straordinaria evidenza del “periodo oscuro” della storia di Populonia: la villa fu costruita agli inizi del I sec. d.C. (quando la città iniziava a cadere in rovina e fu abbandonata per ragioni sconosciute) e costituisce ancora la migliore evidenza per il secolo successivo, poiché fu continuamente abitata fino al VI sec. d.C.

    A new phase of the life of the site was identified as Late Republican; related to iron working, it served as the economic base of the city of Populonia from the Etruscan period. In the southwestern corner of the site, it was discovered a big structure (perhaps a porch or something similar), around which an iron workshop was settled. Under the layers of Augustan stage, in fact, were found the traces of smelting furnaces used to produce iron with the hematite of Elba Island.

    Later the area was radically changed. In Augustan Age, in fact, a rustic villa was built on the site, but this phase is still largely unknown. We know just that in the northeast sector there was a thermal area and a productive part, in which there were basins used for the salting of fish, an activity widely attested in the territory of Populonia, both by archaeological evidence and literary sources.
    During the second half of the 2nd Century C.E., the villa was completely restored becoming a luxurious house: the southwest sector (now hospitalia) was decorated with mosaics on the floors and frescoes on the walls; in the northeast sector new rooms were built in the bath, while the system of basins for the processing of the fish cease to be used.

    A further change happened in the 4th century C.E., when in the villa resumed the manufacture of iron. In the southeast sector of the villa, substantial evidence of the manufacturing of iron was found. This corresponds, in all probability, with the workshop of a blacksmith, working between the 4th and 5th centuries C.E.

  • Carolina Megale - Università degli Studi di Firenze 


  • Andrea Camilli - Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana


  • Ivana Cerato
  • Carolina Megale - Università degli Studi di Firenze
  • Giandomenico De Tommaso - Università degli Studi di Firenze
  • M. Cristina Mileti - Università degli Studi di Pisa
  • F. Ghizzani Marcìa - Università di Pisa
  • S. Genovesi - Università degli Studi di Pisa

Research Body

  • Università degli Studi di Firenze

Funding Body

  • Earthwatch Institute, Massachussets
  • Past in Progress Associazione Culturale


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