• Carsulae, Area Archeologica Demaniale
  • Carsulae
  • Carsulae
  • Italy
  • Umbria
  • Province of Terni
  • San Gemini


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  • No period data has been added yet


  • 300 BC - 400 AD


    • The excavation revealed the particularly interesting hypocaust structure of the apse. An _opus vittatum_ wall, found abutting the exterior of the apse in the north-western corner of the excavation, formed one side of the furnace room which provided the hot air directly to below the pavement in the apse. The apse walls, faced with bricks, terminated up against the long blocks of peperino which supported the base of the arch. These blocks were positioned at a right angle to the aperture and were decorated with simple triglyph and metope motifs. On the northern side of the aperture, a sculpted base with a moulding was positioned against the stone blocks so as to form a long line which extended into the apse to two thirds of its depth. These blocks, too highly decorated for their function and position, must have been re-used from a preceding building or have belonged to an earlier phase of the baths. The sculptured blocks, if replaced in their original positions, parallel to those still _in situ_, form a conduit which could have been used as a chimney for the furnace. The apse floor was paved with large terracotta tiles. The remaining part of the apse was constituted by a regular series of pilae resting on a clay pavement. The channel or air conduit is an archaic characteristic, which in the typological development of Roman baths precedes the hypocaust resting on _pilae_. This may be evidence of the type and the existence of an earlier phase of the baths, perhaps dating to the city’s foundation. Of note, amongst the material found, was a mosaic in the rectangular room, with white, black and red _tesserae_, with no clear pattern. Where the bathers would have passed from the rectangular room into the apse, in line with the air conduit and furnace opening, several _tesserae_ where set in a longitudinal position so as to create a sort of “flowing” motif. The pattern could lead towards a door or stair in the apse or indicate that the pavement was hotter. Several fragments of thin glass were found (some decorated with silver leaf), together with fragments of architectural nails, two fragments of polished bone, yellowish amber (jewellery?), a coin possibly of Valentinian I or Valens and datable to 370-380 A.D. and numerous fragments of black glaze pottery dating to the 3rd century B.C. the period of the city’s foundation. Before the excavation, from the structures visible on the surface and the plan published by Ciotti, the form of the baths looked like that of the so-called “bath with the Greek hypocaust” at Olympia, which is often cited in discussions sustaining that the hypocaust was of Greek origin. Recent studies now date its invention to between 100-40 B.C. This would place the origins of the hypocaust technique in Italy to probably the mid second century B.C. The similarities between the above ground structures of the two baths are surprising: an open apse at the centre leads into a rectangular room with two room off to one side. The proportions and positioning are also similar: both are small with respect to baths of imperial date and are positioned in marginal areas as though intended more for use by visitors (for purification) than for daily ablutions by the inhabitants. The excavation of the apse revealed enormous differences below ground. The aperture of the apse at Carsulae and the furnace entrance, with conduit functioning as a chimney outside of it. At Olympia the apse is broken up by the basin and the furnace positioned on the opposite side of, and behind the rectangular room. The entire pavement is covered by pilae. The similarities may suggest a closeness in date, with the hypocaust model at Carsulae seeming to be the earlier. However, the construction materials and methods at Carsulae move the date back to the mid 2nd century B.C. and suggest numerous phases of construction and restructuring. Moreover, the re-use of decorated blocks from earlier buildings, the presence of _opus reticulatum_ and _incertum_ in the baths structure proves that the architects at Carsulae had reconstructed the original form and preserved the archaic character of the baths for centuries. (MiBAC)
    • The 2007 excavation expanded out of the area of the apse and opened the western area of the rectangular room, which in 2006 we had determined rested on a double-level hypocaust. The total area now exposed by this research team over the three excavation seasons is 63 m.2 Although our excavation this year revealed many architectural features that contribute to our understanding of how the structure developed and how it functioned, at every turn we came upon evidence that the previous excavator, Umberto Ciotti, had been there before us. Since he left us no excavation records, it is our chief task to give scientific documentation to this important monument. Thus, it is disturbing to see how very much of the original context has been removed or destroyed. In our attempt to reconstruct the history, not only of the baths, but also of their various excavations and pillagings, we have concentrated on architectural elements that have been torn from their original contexts and either tossed outside the structure or reused for purposes for which they were not intended. The most puzzling of these odd finds is a small, decorative column, sculpted with an overall design of overlapping leaves, a form that resembles one of the columns of Ptolemy's pleasure tent, and turns up in elongated form in Third and Fourth Style Pompeian wall paintings. It was found, encrusted with concrete, under a wall, which had been built in the form of a partial vault to cover it. This wall runs south from the southern wall of the rectangular room. We excavated the last quadrant of soil remaining in the apse to trace the southward continuation of the double-story hypocaust and its relationship to the western wall of the rectangular room. We found that, beneath the hypocaust floor of the apse, the wall continued and was coated with the same hydraulic plaster as we had discovered last year coating that wall on the exterior of the building. There would be no reason to plaster an interior wall of the sub-floor; this must indicate that that apse was added later. In fact, a shallow niche seems to have been cut into the straight wall to accommodate the insertion of the end of the southern arc of the apse. Beneath the soldiers, the vertically placed bricks in exterior of the south wall of the rectangular room, appeared a drain. New quadrants opened to the east of the previously exposed mosaic floors yielded evidence that the double-story hypocaust continued eastward. Traces of mosaic pavements, one of them white with wide red stripes, indicate that it was from here that the finer mosaic floors had been robbed out. Quadrants opened within the structure, where previous excavators had dug, yielded very few artifacts or pottery. On the exterior of the building, however, where the soil overburden was deep, the finds were voluminous. The small object finds continue to suggest a feminine presence: many glass sherds from very delicate vessels, and two beads, one of glass and one of carved black shell. Several sherds of vernice nera turned up in various loci, unfortunately not in the contexts of their original use. Nonetheless, their consistent presence suggests that the site may have been in use in the late 3rd century B.C.
    • The 2008 season began with excavation to the south of the rectangular room, where in 2007 we had found a foliate-carved column buried under a badly made wall. The badly made wall extends to the southwest from Wall E, the southern wall of the rectangular room, and then meets another wall extending to the southeast. This L can be seen on Ciotti\'s plan and was visible on the surface in our clearing of the site in 2004. At that time it was already much degraded. The L must have enclosed two sides of a room, which was certainly heated, and may have received a flow of heat from the rectangular room. At its southeastern end, however, it is almost completely obliterated; it consists of only one course of bricks. About 30 cm. west of the wall hiding the column and parallel to it, a line of flat glass shards appeared in the soil. Excavation produced many more of these, some of which could be joined to form a window pane measuring at least 35 x 33 cm. The unusually large size of the pane suggests a high level of technological refinement, which contrasts with the puzzlingly shoddy character of the wall into which it was set. This building has presented us with many surprising features, which tend to indicate that the structure was rebuilt numerous times over the course of centuries. We also began to explore the massive wall in opus polygonale, built of massive dressed boulders, not rectangular and not laid in courses, located 50 m. to the east of the baths. Its construction most closely resembles that of the opus polygonale walls around Sant\'Erasmo, on a mountaintop above Carsulae. A stretch of more than six meters is preserved to a maximum height of about three meters above the level of the fossa, which runs directly up to its southern face. The wall extends roughly SE to NW, and on the eastern end of its exposure, an irregular wall or deposit of boulders abuts it at a right angle. Excavation on its western end revealed a series of boulders that form a wall at a right angle to the opus polygonale wall and which lead directly toward the center piling of the opus caementicum cistern that served the baths in the Imperial period. It is very thick, and it will require more excavation to determine whether it is a wall or the edge of a terrace, such as the one below the town of Cesi just a few kilometers away; that one has been interpreted as a basis villae. These two walls are exactly aligned with the walls of the baths 50 meters to the west. This would suggest that the two structures may have had some connection to each other in function, and that the baths, which must be later, made use of the older structure in some way. On top of the boulders on the eastern side, between the opus polygonale wall and the five stone steps leading to the Via Flaminia, emerged a platform of cocciopesto paved with terracotta tiles. Part of it lies on top of the opus polygonale wall, though at a right angle to it, and appears to be a step for access to this massive feature or to the fossa below it. This is further evidence that the later Romans used the older structure for some purpose, and that purpose was probably related to the baths.
    • The fifth season of excavation of the baths at _Carsulae_ took place in a six-week program from June 13 to July 24, 2010. It focused on three separate areas: the southwestern exterior of the bath building itself, and on two arms of the polygonal wall, the northern extension where it heads toward the cistern in _opus caementicum_, and the eastern extension where it leads toward the Via Flaminia. All three areas yielded surprising and significant results. Two of these areas provided evidence for building phases that very likely date to the time of the Roman Republic, and support this director\'s hypothesis that the baths were integral to the purpose of _Carsulae_ and were built at the founding of the city, if not before: 1. In deepening our probe to the south of Wall E on the exterior of the baths, where in 2008 we had found shards from a large window pane and in 2006 we had found evidence of a drain, we uncovered an L-shaped deposit of mud brick at a level lower than that of the brick-faced concrete structure\'s foundation. 2. The northern arm of the polygonal wall, we discovered, was extended by a very different type of masonry, consisting of large, dry-laid stones with only an exterior face; traces of yellow clay and carbonized wood appeared in the fall along this stretch, and suggest a superstructure a graticcio, of wattle and daub. This one wall thus displays three distinct chronological building phases in its diverse masonry forms. The third area explored the series of five steps that appear to lead down from the Via Flaminia toward the eastern extension of the polygonal wall, where in 2008 we uncovered what then appeared to be a platform in cocciopesto built against the massive boulders of the earlier wall. It is now clear that the platform is a basin, and with the steps, it perhaps forms a large public fountain or _nymphaeum_ at the southern entrance to the city. All three of these areas opened this season have contributed significantly to our understanding of the chronology of building phases at the site. The transitional wall a graticcio between the polygonal wall and the Imperial cistern does establish a clear chronological sequence in its superpositions. The fact that the traces of its clay superstructure resemble the traces of clay walls underlying the baths may be a clue to connecting the building phases in the two areas to each other as well as to the history of the rest of _Carsulae_. The area of the shallow pool, paved as it is with diverse masonry techniques, nonetheless rests upon the polygonal features, which must be earlier. All areas have also adduced more evidence for the traditional 3rd c. BC date of the city’s founding.
    • The sixth season of excavation of the baths at _Carsulae_ took place in a six-week program from June 12 to July 23, 2011, under the direction of Prof. Jane K. Whitehead of Valdosta State University (Georgia, USA). Grants received over the previous winter from both private and public Italian sources were sufficient to fund the construction of a roof over the ancient structures, which have lain exposed since their first excavation in the 1950s. The goal of this season\'s excavation was to dig twelve 2x2-meter units to accommodate footings for the foundation plinths, which were to be arranged parallel to the ancient structure of the baths, six along the north side and six along the south. A systematic excavation of these squares was needed in order to determine whether any significant ancient structures might lie beneath the positions of the plinths. Two squares on the south side, S4 and S6, did yield walls, but the placement of the plinths could be adjusted so as not to require their disturbance or removal. Although this season\'s excavation was calculated to avoid finding significant remains, it nonetheless was surprisingly productive and useful for the perspective it offered on the phases and functioning of the baths. The architectural features exposed by these squares were fortunately few, but enlightening. The well-built wall of opus vittatum that emerged in square S6 runs NE directly toward the Imperial-period cistern, and must have functioned as part of the water supply or drainage system for the baths. A less sturdy wall turned up at the southern end of square S4; it had much yellowish clay associated with it, and its fall may have extended into square S3, where clumps of clay were found in a rubble layer. The clay resembles that found in two places in the 2010 season: one extending from the SW edge of the bath structure and the other associated with an apparent wall a graticcio connecting the _opus quadratum_ wall with the cistern in _opus caementicum_. This gives further support to our theory that there was a phase to the baths datable to the Republic. The object finds also provided valuable insights. Numerous coins were found this year, especially in the squares on the south side. Many were legible and most of those dated to the mid-3rd to mid-4th c. AD. This dating confirms the results of the pottery analysis, in which several secure contexts were identified; these contexts date to the mid-4th century and may thus give us a date for the abandonment of the site. The squares along the southeast also yielded an astonishing number of bone hairpins. These, along with several colored glass beads and a decorative pendant, suggest an overwhelming, perhaps exclusive, feminine presence in the baths. They give further credence to our theory, based on the finds of previous seasons, that the baths were dedicated to women\'s health.
    • The seventh season of excavation of the baths at Carsulae took place in a six-week program from June 11 to July 22, 2012 under the direction of Prof. Jane K. Whitehead of Valdosta State University (Georgia, USA). Our ultimate excavation goal for the 2012 and 2013 seasons is to prepare for the preservation and reconstruction of the bath structure, which will begin in the summer of 2014. Our excavation of 2012 opened quadrants on all sides of the bath structure as well as within it. We seem to have identified certain areas that Ciotti did not dig which may give us fresh historical information from secure, undisturbed contexts. On the south side, we uncovered a previously unknown wall running SW (Wall L). It turns a corner and forms a room, the northern side of which we had previously explored. It defines a very small room, which was nonetheless heated. In the SE corner, where Ciotti shows that Wall K ends, we found a continuation. The new wall extension defines another room to its north: this, too, was heated by a hypocaust and paved with mosaics, as we see from the pattern of the _pilae_ that remain and fragments of mosaic against the balk. The ground level in the N side of the site is about 3 m. higher than that on the south, due largely to the regular runoff and fall from the cliff above. Excavation here required terracing of the soil, cutting one meter back for every meter down, in order to preserve the stability of the slope. On the north side we exposed most of the southern face of the long northern wall (Wall O). Ciotti's plan was tentative, as if he had found some breaks in that southern face. We can now identify those breaks as arches that spring from about a meter above the level of the floor and cut through the wall. Against the NW face of this platform rests another newly-discovered wall (Wall P), which runs from the north wall of the baths northward toward the cliff. A fragment of it was detected in a trench cut to hold reinforcing bars between the upright supports of the roof. Since that wall is heading in the direction of a cistern at the top of the cliff, it may be that it, and perhaps the platform as well, have something to do with the supply of water. This season we also opened areas within the bath structure that had seemed the most delicate: here an apparent refuse heap of brick and rock. We had been timid about digging into it because it appeared to be holding the higher level of _pilae_ of the hypocaust floor in place. Once the fall had been removed, however, we discovered that it had hidden a mosaic floor. This floor must hold the central motif of the mosaics of the main room; this is evident from the fact that it rests in the center of a frame consisting of alternating stripes of red and white. A section of the border on the western side had emerged already in 2007, but three of the corners of the frame appeared this season (indicate) to confirm the composition of the design.
    • The discoveries of 2013 have yielded a new understanding of the forms and phases of the baths' construction; these include five furnaces. They are numbered clockwise, starting with Furnace #1 on the western side of the apse; this was the first discovered, and already identified in 2005. Furnace #2 came to light last season as one of two arched openings in the long north wall of the tepidarium, Wall O. Its opening was blocked up with masonry and concrete to the level of the base of the arch. This probably occurred when Furnace #1 was created. The eastern arched opening in Wall O marks Furnace #3. Here there is a clear opening through the wall into the furnace chamber, which is still buried beneath the northern slope. East of the tepidarium appeared Furnace #4. Its arch is on the south side, and it thus would have supplied heat to the new east room discovered last year. This furnace, too, has been blocked up. The decommissioning of Furnace #4 would have cut off heat to the new room’s hypocaust and thus turned it into a frigidarium. On the south side of the baths, the new south room also appears to have its own furnace (Furnace #5). This would have extended south from the main structure toward the fossa. This room was also built later and tacked on, and it shows the same hasty composition of reused and miscellaneous fragments as we saw in the apse construction, which suggests that they may be contemporary. The most distinctive feature that they share, however, is a kind of "lining wall," consisting of tegulae cut in the shape of wall bricks, their raised edges facing away from the wall. These walls form a 20-cm. shelf around the interiors of the walls and may have served as support for the weight of pools.
    • The 2014 excavation opened a considerable area: twelve 2.5 x 2.5 m. quadrants, a season total of 75 sq. m. (Fig. 1). Another three quadrants, previously opened, were deepened down to the paved floor of the structure. The excavated area has more than doubled in two years and has now reached the limits of the roof’s protection. The baths appear now to be considerably bigger than could have been anticipated from U. Ciotti’s published plans. Our goals this season were to follow the clues, offered by last season’s excavation, to identifying the phases of construction and use of the baths as well as the various hands that have dug and pillaged the site. The discovery last year of five furnaces, at least two of which had been blocked up, revealed changes in the functions of the rooms over the period of use of the structure. Almost everywhere that we have dug, we have encountered remnants of Ciotti’s distinctive concrete repairs, but we have now found evidence in several places of another, more destructive hand. This season’s excavation yielded some unanticipated results. We had always assumed that the three-meter difference in the ground level between the north and south sides of the building was due to runoff and fall from the cliff above. To our surprise, the quadrant to the NE of Furnace 4 yielded a vault in situ. We now have the original height of the bath structure preserved on the north side. We knew that the heights of the hypocaust floor in the apse and in the small south room were lower than that of the tepidarium, and we assumed that these areas held pools or plunge baths. Excavation this year revealed that there was a lower level of floor within the tepidarium itself; this may explain the presence of marble revetments found in 2007 in situ about a third of the distance into the room from its western wall. The large eastern room, which had originally been heated before its furnace, Furnace 4, had been blocked up, extends considerably farther east, beyond the cover of the roof. Its southern wall revealed an opening, which may have served to draw the hot air across the distance from the furnace; it, too, was blocked up at some time. We exposed all of Furnace 1 this season. Its asymmetry, both in its own construction and with respect to the curve of the apse, is surprising and puzzling. Also surprising is its lack of resemblance to Furnace 4, the only other furnace of which we have exposed the chamber. These five furnaces have revealed two distinct building phases of the existing Carsulae baths. In the first (Fig. 2), the baths were composed of two heated rooms: the square one that we have been calling the tepidarium, which was heated by Furnaces 2 and 3 and drafted by openings in its south and west walls; and the East Room, heated by Furnace 4 and perhaps a twin, and drafted through its south wall. In the second phase (Fig. 3), Furnaces 2 and 4 were blocked up along with their draft openings, and the apse and South Room added, with their accompanying furnaces. The second phase thus establishes a pattern of rooms heated to three different temperatures, as is canonical in Roman Imperial baths. This reorganization may shed light more generally on the development of the Roman bath typology in central Italy. More than 112 fragments of mosaic have been uncovered and numbered. Those that were small enough were removed and consolidated in the laboratory and are now stored in the Albergo Duomo. Some of the larger ones and those lying upside down were stabilized in the field and left in place. The large fragment with red stripes that was excavated in 2007 showed such deterioration that the conservator, Massimiliano Masseri, with the aid of two interns in conservation, detached it from its matrix and removed it. Its rudus was broken up and also removed; more large sections of mosaic were found lying beneath it. The yellow patches on the plan in Figure 1 show the mosaics newly found this season. While the excavations this season have revealed the extent of the bath structure, they have also revealed the complexity and delicacy of the ruins that must ultimately be consolidated or restored. Our first priority for next season will be to put in place a plan for the conservation of the site.
    • The five-week study season of research into the previously excavated finds from the site of the Roman baths at Carsulae extended from June 19 to July 26, 2015. All of our major goals were met: 1. Assigning of new inventory numbers to all finds as designated by the Soprintendenza Archeologica dell’Umbria. Numbers were allotted in groups of 500, and the final total reached 4,000. 2. Conservation of objects from previous seasons. Some of these, due to time constraints, had not been treated, and others had been conserved but needed re-treatment. The metals in particular needed attention, and all, from as far back as 2005, were cleaned, treated, and re-photographed. 3. Storage of excavated materials. This year, much was done to clarify the organization of the temporary storage area in the Albergo Duomo. Boxes of artifacts stored on the shelves were reorganized and relabeled, missing items were found and put back into place, and the boxes were placed back on the shelves according to year of discovery and the weight of the material. The boxes were renumbered for identification in the inventory system of the Soprintendenza. Larger, but still portable mosaic fragments have been housed in the Antiquarium at Carsulae since 2006. This season, several boxes of architectural elements (small mosaic fragments, architectural tiles, etc.) were transferred from the storeroom at the albergo to the Antiquarium. 4. Site conservation. Since we did not dig and did not have regular access to the site, conservation activities this season were minimal. Our conservator: a. uncovered areas of the site to check for winter damage and the need to reapply herbicide; b. cut weeds and other vegetation growing densely just outside the southeast corner of the roof, and applied herbicide and light-blocking tarpaulins.


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