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  • Tusculum
  • Tuscolo
  • Tusculum
  • Italy
  • Latium
  • Rome
  • Monte Porzio Catone

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Periods

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Chronology

  • 600 BC - 400 AD
  • 900 AD - 1200 AD

Season

    • The ancient city of _Tusculum_ stood on a plateau, circa 30 km from Rome, whence it had a strategic view over the valley ahead. In ancient times the Via Latina passed through the valley, forming the main communication route between _Latium_ and Campania before the construction of the Via Appia. The city, which played a fundamental role within the Latin League, was certainly of great importance in the archaic period, as attested not only by the ancient sources but also by the archaeological evidence. In 381 B.C. it was declared a _municipium_. From that moment onwards _Tusculum_ came within the Roman sphere and its families produced many of the urbs’ eminent individuals, even of consular rank, amongst which the _Mamilii_, the _Furii_ and the _Quintii_ can be cited. As the city developed and expanded the entire suburban area came to be occupied by the luxurious villas of the Roman emperors and members of the senatorial and equestrian classes. _Tusculum_ reached its apogee between the end of the 1st century B.C. and the 1st century A.D. Subsequently, there was a slow decline until the 3rd-4th century A.D. a period for which there is very little evidence. The area regained its importance in the medieval period when the Counts of Tusculo appeared on the scene, a house of such importance and influence as to arouse the resentment of Rome and the Papacy which in 1191 decided that Tusculo should be destroyed. The first investigation of the city dates to the 19th century, but the greatest push towards the discovery of _Tusculum_ and its monumental centre came with the 1994 excavations by the Escuela Española de Historia y Arqueologìa, undertaken in the _forum_-theatre and on the suburban promontory immediately south of the monumental centre. During these twelve years the research project has led not only to the chronological and architectural definition of already known structures like the theatre, the _forum_ or the “archaic fountain”, but also to the discovery of other constructions of which nothing was known, such as the _sacellae_ situated on the western side of the _forum_, a large _podium_ of archaic date upon which a cult structure probably stood and the _forum_ basilica. As regards the medieval period the work in recent years has led to a more precise definition of the nature of the occupation of the ancient site in the period between the 10th and 12th centuries and the discovery, outside the city, of a church with three naves built upon the remains of a Republican villa. (MiBAC)
    • The excavations concentrated on two sectors: the forum area and the suburban area. In the area south of the _forum_ the 2002 excavation provided a better understanding of the great tufa _podium_ of archaic date, preserved at the southern edge of the excavation to a height of circa 6m. In 2003 it was discovered that the structure had a square plan (10 x 10m) formed by three _opus quadratum_ walls of granular reddish tufa. The blocks of this dry-stone construction formed a U-shaped structure open towards the north, that is towards the _forum_. At a later date the internal space was filled with similar tufa blocks. This was a large _podium_ which would have supported a building and rendered the lie of the terrain more regular. Although there was no evidence of the supposed building, due to the overlaying of the remains from later phases (such as those of a late Republican _sacellum_), it was clear that the archaic _podium_ was probably associated with a religious building. From a chronological point of view, excavation of the fill on which the tufa blocks of the inner structure rested dated the construction to around the 6th century B.C. Amongst the materials found were bucchero, Attic Black-figure ware and fragments of bucchero with graffiti in the Etruscan alphabet (the first example of the use of writing at _Tusculum_). The excavation in the suburban area involved the medieval church built over a late Republican villa. The investigation in the western part of the church uncovered three tombs, two datable to the 11th-12th century and the third dating to sometime after the city’s destruction in 1191. These types of tombs attest the church’s use for funerary purposes after the abandonment of the city. In the northern sector a portico associated with the church was documented which, in around 1000 A.D., on the occasion of the enlargement of the church, was transformed into the side chapel of the complex. The remains of the bell-tower’s collapse also emerged. It stood by itself to the north of the building and its construction can be dated to between the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th century. Amongst the most interesting finds were architectural elements and marble fragments as well as waste from glass production, perhaps to be associated with a craft activity undertaken near the church. (MiBAC)
    • The excavations in 2005 concentrated on the theatre zone and the area south of the _forum_ basilica. The results obtained were of great significance. In the theatre area the trench put in between the eastern edge of the cavea and the monumental cistern further clarified several aspects regarding the relationship between the two monuments that had remained unresolved. The existence of a series of hydraulic structures pre-dating the theatre’s construction was confirmed. These structures fed the space latter occupied by the cavea, from a warehouse structure which preceded the existence of the cistern. The great cistern’s construction phases were also identified with more precision; the first dating to the 2nd century B.C. with subsequent restructuring in the late Republican and early Imperial periods. In the area south of the _forum_ produced significant results for the understanding of the urban organisation of this part of the city’s monumental centre. The open area excavation (circa 50 x 25 m) provided the answers to some very important questions. The identification of the remains of the south-eastern corner of the judicial basilica completed the plan of this building which measured a total of 42.5 x 22.5 m. Moreover, on the basis of other data obtained during this excavation campaign it may be suggested that the structure’s central nave was defined by a series of 8 x 4 columns and not 9 x 4 as previously proposed and that the central space between the columns was also wider, perhaps suggesting the existence of the tribunal. At circa 2 m from the basilica a large solid construction came to light, constituted by a rectangular _opus caementicium podium_ on a north-south alignment. Considering its size and situation this must have been a building of great importance which has yet to be clearly identified (perhaps it was the city’s curia or a temple). It is hoped that subsequent excavations will produce sufficient evidence for a correct attribution. In order to get as complete a picture as possible of this part of the city the entire area south of the basilica and the opus caementicium building was cleared as far as the road bordered by the nymphaeum excavated by M. Borda in around 1950. The entire area was occupied by a series of tanks, in opus reticulatum lined with _opus signinum_. These were for collecting the water that fed the _nymphaeum_ which faced onto the _decumanus_. (MiBAC)
    • Work on the _Tusculum_ project resumed in September 2008. The main aim of the field work was to provide answers to the questions that had arisen during the previous campaigns. Work towards the 2011 publication of the excavation results also began. _Forum - central-southern sector_ During the 2005 excavations three imposing buildings were identified: the basilica, datable to the second quarter of the 1st century B.C.; an _opus caementicium_ podium, which a preliminary hypothesis suggests was part of the main temple in the forum; and outside of the forum area, a monumental _nyphaeum_. The 2008 excavations documented a substantial architectural complex in the southern part of the forum. A containing wall came to light along the south side of the terracing on which the forum was built. Datable to the late 4th-beginning of the 3rd century B.C., it belonged to a mid Republican building, measuring 18.25 x 25.70 m. It was abutted by an _opus caementicium_ wall on a north-south alignment, forming the east perimeter of the basilica built in the 1st century B.C. The basilica measured 42.7 x 22.5 m.; the central nave was delimited by eight columns on the long sides and by four on the short sides. _Forum - north-western sector_ The main aim of the campaign was to study the architectural development of the temple of Mercury, already excavated in 2001 and 2002. It stood in the south-western corner of the forum, at the crossroads between the three main roads which, in antiquity, linked the town to the rest of the territory. The temple was on a north-east alignment, thus differing from the surrounding _sacella_ which were orientated east-west built along the west side of the forum. Three main construction phases were documented for the temple. The first related to the foundation in the late 2nd-beginning of the 1st century B.C. The second phase was the restructuring in the Julio-Claudian period, probably during the reign of Tiberius. The third dated to the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. and saw the construction of two pillars in front of the façade and the decoration of the internal walls with painted plaster. In the medieval period the area was robbed of building materials. _Forum - north-eastern sector_ The research in this area concentrated on the reconstruction of the architectural connection between the forum and theatre. During the campaign the plans of the medieval room and of the late Republican building in _opus incertum_, partially exposed in preceding years, were completed. An interesting network of underground cuniculi on two levels was excavated. It was abandoned at the beginning of the 3rd century A.D. During the excavations an inscription dating to the mid 1st century B.C. was found, which made reference to an _aedilis lustralis_. _Acropolis_ A small excavation in the area revealed the plan of a medieval church with three naves and an apse facing east. The richness of materials recovered, the construction techniques and size of the building (17 x 24 m.) attest the structure’s importance, datable (preliminary) to the 11th-12th century.
    • _Forum - South-western sector_ The main aim of the 2009 campaign was to bring to light the ancient monumental access to the town for those who approached from the south, along a basalt paved road which climbed up to Tusculum from the via Latina. In order to undertake this project it was necessary to remove the modern pathway leading to the forum, thus uniting the western and southern sectors of the excavation. On the basis of the results from the 2008 excavations (definition of the perimeter of the basilica on the south side of the forum; completion of the excavations on the temple of Mercury; partial excavation of the road running around the south of the basilica), the excavation area was extended towards the south and west, exposing a second stretch of the road leading into the town from the south-west which gave a new perception of the road layout around the forum. The basalt paved road flanked the temple of Mercury to the east and flanked the terrace on which the basilica stood to the west. The walls delimiting the road and some of the structures built alongside it were partially exposed. The extension of the excavation to the south confirmed the dating of the wall closing the forum (end of the 4th-beginning of the 3rd century B.C.). The complete plan of the mid Republican building, identified as the first basilica in the forum, was revealed. The building had been enlarged in the Augustan/Julio-Claudian period, when it acquired its final aspect, in coincidence with the larger operation to restructure the forum aimed at creating a new unity between the architecture and urban plan of the town’s monumental centre. Excavations continued in the forum’s south-western corner, providing the data for a reconstruction of the pedestrian access to the forum from the south. A new trench (6 x 3 m.) was opened to the west of the 2008 excavation area from which new data emerged confirming the three construction phases (end of the 2nd-beginning of the 1st century B.C.; Julio-Claudian restructuring; first half of the 2nd century A.D.) already documented in the area close to the temple of Mercury. _Forum – north-eastern sector_ The excavations concentrated on the area of the building in _opus incertum_, which had been planned in 2008 and is though to be the _collegium_. The building was restored and the medieval walls standing on Roman floor levels were removed, below which the remains of a medieval necropolis came to light. Continuation of the investigations in this area documented that the stratigraphy was in an advanced state of degradation, caused by 19th century excavations. _Acropolis_ The opening of a small trench south of the ‘Croce del Tuscolo’ uncovered the substantial remains of walls relating to building phases dating from the Republican period to the middle centuries of the medieval period. In 2009 a survey of the area also began.
    • The 2012 campaign was concentrated in the area of the Rocca. The excavations, survey and topographical documentation involved three zones: a) Podium/palace area; b) Town walls (north and east side); c) East terrace (medieval quarter). a) In the area of the probable podium of the temple/palace of the counts of Tuscolo, the surface cleaning begun in 2009 continued and was extended. The existence of a first construction phase (A) of _opus quadratum_ made of large tufa blocks, already interpreted as a probable temple podium, was confirmed. This was exposed for an overall length of 17 m and a width of 2.60 m. The podium was abutted by a series of later structures: the earliest related to a restoration of the podium (phase B) in _opus reticulatum_ and a large wall with reused tufa blocks (phase C) probably dating to the late antique period, 11 m long and about 1 m wide. The podium’s south side was abutted by five parallel walls with a distance of 4.30 m between each. They were built in _opus caementicium_ with abundant mortar. In the medieval period the long _opus quadratum_ wall was reused as the northern limit of a vast quadrangular room about 11 x 13.50 m, delimited by walls built in the same technique as those documented in the adjacent church excavated in 2008. In the area south of the podium, various walls were documented, some of which of late antique/early medieval date. A wall of reused tufa blocks, almost 16 m long, found 10 m north of the podium, dates to the same period. b) Large stretches of the town wall (north and east sides) were excavated. Along the north side, a stretch of almost 80 m (0.83-0.90 m wide; 0.35-1.70 m high) was documented. This was a wall with a double facing of reused _opus quadratum_ blocks, flint and tufa chips and brick/tile fragments. Despite the uniform building technique, it is suggested that only the first part of the wall is ancient (51.60 m), as far as the limit marked by a Roman cistern, which was incorporated into the wall as a defensive element. c) A new excavation area was opened on the Rocca’s east terrace. The first evidence documented the existence of a medieval quarter with a series of earth-built _domus_, on an east-west alignment and a surface area of about 50 m2. Soil samples were taken from in and around the houses for paleo-botanical analyses. A topographical survey was made of the three excavation areas including photogrammetrical recording. The resulting digital images were geo-referenced and integrated into the overall plan of the site.
    • La campagna archeologica 2013 rientra nel più vasto progetto di ricerca "Tusculum en época medieval: territorio, paisaje, economía y sociedad" (PIE n. 201210E033), inaugurato nel 2012. La ricerca sul campo è stata condotta dando ampio spazio alle analisi archeobiologiche (faunistiche, palinologiche, antracologiche, carpologiche, studio degli acari) e alla sperimentazione di nuove tecnologie non invasive, molte delle quali in precedenza mai utilizzate a Tusculum: le prospezioni geofisiche (magnetometria, prospezione elettromagnetica a frequenza variabile e prospezione con georadar GPR), la fotogrammetria e i voli con il drone e l’aquilone. Innovativa è stata anche la scelta delle aree (la Rocca e i terrazzamenti che la delimitano a est e sud; il pianoro antistante il Foro) e dei periodi storici (l’epoca tardo-antica e l’alto medioevo) oggetto di indagine, selezionati allo scopo di colmare le lacune ancora esistenti relativamente alla conoscenza dello sviluppo diacronico dell’insediamento. Lo scavo stratigrafico si è concentrato nell’area della chiesa medievale sulla Rocca, identificata sulla base delle fonti storiche coeve con la SS. Trinità. Una volta riportato alla luce l’intero perimetro dell’edificio (17 x 27 m), l’indagine si è focalizzata in tre aree: l’abside (sondaggio A), la navata laterale nord (sondaggio B) e il campanile (sondaggio C). La chiesa fu costruita riutilizzando in larga misura materiali di epoca romana provenienti da un edificio a carattere pubblico, forse uno dei due templi noti dalle fonti. Radicalmente distrutta e abbandonata alla fine del XII secolo, la chiesa fu oggetto di un intenso spoglio sistematico dei materiali decorativi e costruttivi nei decenni immediatamente successivi. Dalla ricchezza dei reperti recuperati negli strati di crollo possiamo intuire l’importanza rivestita originariamente da questo luogo di culto: frammenti di varie dimensioni e spessori di lastre in marmo che rimandano all’esistenza di un pavimento in opus cosmatesco, intonaci dipinti di vari colori, un piccolo mosaico, un capitello a motivo vegetale, una colonnina e vari elementi architettonici in marmo e tufo di riutilizzo.
    • This was the 16th excavation campaign undertaken by the EEHAR on the ancient site of Tusculum, the third dedicated to the medieval occupation phases (PIE n. 201210E033). Excavations took place in the area of the Rocca and the Villa di Prastina Pacato (fig. 1). A topographical survey, a survey to localize the springs and cisterns existing around the site, a geophysical survey on the terraces east and south of the Rocca (fig. 1), archaeo-biological sampling (carpological, anthracological and palinological) and analyses of the faunal remains dating to the medieval period were also carried out. During the 2014 campaign, new research collaborations began. These involved CINECA, for the creation of virtual reconstructions of the main monuments and landscape of Tusculum (at present the church of the SS. Trinità and the Roman theatre are in preparation), the Laboratorio de Arqueología del Paisaje y Teledetección del CCHS-CSIC in Madrid, for the creation of the excavation GIS, the Laboratorio de Documentación Geométrica del Patrimonio della Università del País Vasco (UPV/EHU), for the creation of a plan for the recording, management and diffusion of the excavation data acquired by the EEHAR between 1994 and the present, aimed at guaranteeing the conservation of the archaeological record. The excavations continued the work undertaken on the Rocca in 2013, both in the area of the church of the SS. Trinità (four excavation areas were opened: the apse, presbytery, north side aisle and bell tower) (fig. 2), and in the north stretch of the curtain wall running along the eastern side of the ancient acropolis. An _opus sectile_ floor, still partially _in situ_, and three re-used Roman marble inscriptions came to light in the area of the presbytery. The preliminary suggestion is that the inscriptions were probably used as the bases for the medieval ciborium (fig. 3).
    • Quella che si è svolta quest’anno è stata la diciassettesima campagna archeologica diretta dalla EEHAR-CSIC a Tusculum, la quarta specificamente dedicata alla ricostruzione delle fasi di vita medievali nell’ambito del progetto multidisciplinare avviato nel 2012 (“Tusculum en época medieval: territorio, paisaje, economía y sociedad - PIE n. 201210E033 e PIE n. 2014410E05). Le attività di scavo archeologico hanno interessato la Rocca (dal 4 al 30 maggio) e l’area antistante il Foro romano (dal 7 al 18 luglio) (Fig. 1). Come gli scorsi anni, in concomitanza con le attività di scavo sono state realizzate una campagna di documentazione topografica e fotogrammetrica, attività di campionamento archeobotanico (sono stati prelevati campioni carpologici, antracologici e palinologici) e lo studio dei reperti archeozoologici. Prosegue la collaborazione con il CINECA, finalizzata alla ricostruzione virtuale dei principali monumenti e del paesaggio di Tusculum mediante software open source. Una nuova collaborazione è stata avviata con l'Istituto de Agricultura Sostenible del CSIC, grazie alla quale nel mese di maggio sono stati effettuati voli con un aereo pilotato dotato di camere termiche e sensori per l’ottenimento di immagini iper e multispettrali. La lettura congiunta dei risultati di tali voli con i dati ottenuti da drone, KAP, analisi geofisiche (in particolare georadar e magnetometria) e, ovviamente, scavi hanno consentito di meglio definire le nostre conoscenze relative all'effettiva estensione dell’abitato medievale di XI-XII secolo. Il potenziamento in questi anni dell’uso delle tecnologie a carattere non invasivo (archeologia aerea e analisi geofisiche) ha consentito di identificare nuove aree potenzialmente interessanti e prioritarie ai fini dello scavo, fornendo un utile strumento di pianificazione del lavoro. Da esso deriva ad esempio l’apertura a luglio di tre piccoli sondaggi nell’area antistante il Foro romano, che ha portato all’identificazione di una monumentale chiesa medievale con relativa area di necropoli (Fig. 2). Per quanto riguarda invece lo scavo condotto a maggio sulla Rocca, abbiamo ripreso l’indagine del tratto orientale della cinta muraria (Fig. 3) e dell’annessa cisterna di epoca romana (settore R5000). Sono stati inoltre aperti due nuovi sondaggi: R6000 (una domus medievale ubicata accanto al palazzo comitale) e R9000, nella zona sud-orientale della Rocca.
    • Lo scavo ha avuto una durata di 4 settimane (27 giugno – 23 luglio) e ha interessato le aree dell’antica acropoli (settore R3000) e del pianoro antistante il foro romano (settore G1000). Precedentemente, durante il mese di maggio, l’area del pianoro è stata oggetto di prospezioni geofisiche con metodi magnetometrico e georadar, grazie a un progetto di collaborazione avviato con l’ITABC-CNR. Riprendendo le ricerche del 2015, abbiamo ampliato verso est e sud lo scavo sul pianoro del grande edificio a carattere pubblico pavimentato in _opus sectile_ (Fig. 1), di cui è stata documentata una radicale trasformazione d’uso alla fine del I - inizi del II sec. d.C.: risalgono a questa fase la costruzione di una serie di alzati in _opus reticulatum_ decorati da intonaci dipinti, una latrina e una grande vasca. L’edificio subì ulteriori trasformazioni d’uso in epoca tardo-antica e poi, fra XI e XII secolo, l’intera area venne sacralizzata e circondata da sepolture su più livelli. Le ricerche sull’acropoli si sono invece concentrate nell’area nord-occidentale, laddove precedenti indagini avevano permesso di identificare i resti del probabile palazzo dei conti di Tuscolo, edificato sul podio del tempio la cui dedicazione – su base epigrafica - è stato attribuita ai Dioscuri. A oggi, abbiamo potuto documentare una planimetria complessiva di ca. 45 x 30 m del palazzo medievale, suddiviso al suo interno in sei grandi ambienti. Il sottostante podio del tempio presenta una pianta quadrangolare di 30 m di lato ed era probabilmente orientato a ovest, verso l’area monumentale della città, come testimonierebbe la scalinata frontale in corso di scavo (Fig. 2), dai cui livelli superficiali è uscita una grande testa di statua di elefante in marmo bianco (Fig. 3). Come già gli scorsi anni, durante lo scavo sono state realizzate attività di campionamento archeobiologico.
    • The 21st campaign of excavations at _Tusculum_ undertaken by EEHAR-CSIC saw the opening of two new areas in the western part of the city (O1000 and O2000), a trench in the baths area (sector G) (Fig. 1), a surface survey in the surrounding territory and a geophysical survey on the plateau to the west of the forum. The excavations in sector O aimed to define the city’s perimeter and investigate the medieval defences. In sector O1000, on the south-western side of the plateau, the remains of a Roman cistern were identified, which was reused for funerary purposes in the medieval period. Immediately north (sector O2000) a section of the medieval town’s west wall, over 30 m long, was uncovered. It was built with a double facing and cement core, and incorporated, partially reusing, the remains of an earlier Roman structure, including an _opus_ _mixtum_ wall of Hadrianic date, and patches of _opus_ _signinum_ floor. The construction of an imposing bastion in tufa _opus_ _quadratum_ also dates to the mediaeval phase. The bastion obliterated the ancient basalt road leading into the town (Fig. 2). The _sondage_ opened in sector G aimed to investigate the westernmost of the 12 medieval sepulchral galleries, situated along the façade of the church built on top of the remains of the Roman baths identified in 2015. Inside the ossuary, 2.90 m deep, three distinct depositional phases dating to the 11th-12th centuries were identified. The ossuary contained a total of 27 individuals. The surface survey investigated the position of _Tusculum_ in relation to the surrounding territory, in particular along the north (UR 6) and south-eastern (UR 2) sides, in order to reconstruct the development of the principal and secondary road network providing access to the town (Fig. 3).

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