• Tufa - Ossaia
  • Cortona
  • Italy
  • Tuscany
  • Arezzo
  • Cortona


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  • No period data has been added yet


  • 100 BC - 400 AD


    • From 1992 onwards the site of Ossaia, on the border of the territories of Cortona and Perugia, has been the object of excavations (ongoing) by the Universities of Perugia and Alberta (Edmonton, Canada), in collaboration with the Comune of Cortona. The excavations examined the residential sector of a luxury villa, built on a north-south alignment, which developed over a period of time between the 1st century B.C. and the 5th century A.D. In an earlier period (5th-2nd century B.C.) the terrace where the villa was situated had been the site of an Etruscan sanctuary with a rural settlement nearby. The size of the villa’s original layout, datable to the 1st century B.C., is uncertain. On the basis of the tiles marked with the stamp of a certain _Caius Avilius_ or _Annius Capito_, the original villa can be placed within a limited section of the site where there were early pavements in _lithostroton_ and a white and black mosaic in the northern area. The first monumental phase of the complex dates to the mid 1st century B.C. Judging by the brick stamps found over the three excavation areas, which include the reception rooms, this work was undertaken by the family of the _Vibii Pansae_. The area excavated in 2005 and continued in 2006 comprises a portico with an elegant _scutulum_ mosaic which opened onto an internal garden. The summer complex consisted of a corridor providing service access to the large reception room. The corridor separated the large room, both physically and functionally, from the rest of what seems to be the villa’s main entrance. The northern reception area was linked to the central residential part by a terrace wall. The second phase, datable to between the end of the 1st-3rd century A.D., several transformations are attested in which various parts of the residential quarters of the late Republican-Augustan villa were taken over for productive purposes which seem to coincide with an increase in agricultural activity. During the 3rd century A.D. (between the late Severan period and the beginning of Gallienus’s reign as attested by the small _laminae_ with Imperial portraits found) the villa was restructured. It was decorated with red chequered mosaic with a Dionysiac emblem, perhaps for a reception room, probably a _coenatio_. The villa underwent more radical alterations in the Constantinian period. On the basis of the pottery recovered the complex showed evidence of continued occupation at least until the 5th century A.D. (MiBAC)
    • On the basis of the archaeological documentation produced by excavations undertaken between 2007 and 2009 a new interpretation of the entire residential complex of the large villa of Ossaia, in particular the late Republican phase, has been formulated. The eastern sector of the villa relating to the phase I occupation, characterised by living rooms and reception rooms, and now with an ample peristyle (rather than a simple portico opening onto the space to the east of the cenatio, as formerly suggested) communicating in turn with a second level of the complex. The 2009 campaign uncovered large part of the peristyle’s south portico, at a right angle to the portico with a mosaic of elegant marble crustae that had been uncovered previously. Close to the eastern edge of the excavation an ample section of wall decoration came to light characterised by a vivid red dado, above which was a black band with thin white over-painted lines forming quadrangular panels. This type of composition can be attributed to the so-called III Pompeian style of the Mau classification. The porticoed area and the walled structures formed a large layout with monumental characteristics for which there are no parallels in the lower eastern Valdichiana, and the whole of north-eastern Etruria in general. The 2009 campaign uncovered the south-eastern corner of the socle, constructed with rectangular limestone blocks, as well as two columns in situ (diam. circa 85 cm) built of brick covered with red and white stucco. The base of one of the columns, with an elaborate moulding, was preserved intact. A large number of stucco volute fragments from the capitals were recovered, suggesting that the peristyle columns were Ionic. The interventions in this part of the complex, dating to the mid imperial phase (2nd century A.D.), seen at substantially higher levels, foresaw the reconstruction of the south wall and the obliteration of the stairwell, which had already gone out of use at the end of the 1st century A.D. Furthermore, in this phase a number of systems for the drainage of surface water, present throughout the residential area in the first phase, also went out of use. The absence of collapsed material would seem to suggest the systematic recovery and reuse of the building materials in a period compatible with the reoccupation of the villa’s eastern part in the 2nd century A.D.
    • The archaeological excavations at the roman villa of Ossaia – La Tufa was held from May 24 to June 18, 2010. The investigations were concentrated in two sectors of area 3: the porch – sector 25 and sector 27, both partially investigated during previous excavations. In the porch, it was uncovered a part of pavement consisting of roughly hewn stone blocks enticed with gray mortar. This layer, which is cut on the west side, continues to the east and rests on a level of collapse (obviously altered) of the southern structures of sector 25 (F 508). This layer has returned, among other building materials, numerous fragments of painted plaster (red and white decorated with phytomorphic motifs), which decorated the wall of the structure F 508 (part of the plaster is still attached on the wall). This pavement could be dated between the late 1st and 2nd century AD, when the villa underwent a radical change in the functional and architectural arrangement. The layer of collapse covers directly crepidine of the peristyle. It was found another stone blocks of the crepidine and the trace of another column which was supporting the roof of the peristyle. The crepidine continues to the east. In the northen part of the sector 27 it was not possible to locate the perimeter of the wall. This sector is a rectangular room open on the east side and oriented north / south, which measures approx. 8x5 m,. After the removal of the topsoil by mechanical means, it was uncovered a layer with brick fragments, interpreted as a level of obliteration of a previous structure (which were already being scraped in the past, since no trace of collapse was found) and elevation of the plans after. This layer covers the floor plan of an environment consisting of a mosaic of black and white dating to the Augustan age (and therefore contemporary with the construction phase of this sector of the villa).The mosaic has two motifs. The first, on the southern part, it’s a black geometric lozenge surrounded by a frame with three black stripes and a concentric inner band decorated with a row of black triangles.The second motif has the same decoration with lozenge but in white color. On the basis of archaeological documentation from other rooms of the villa, the change of the mosaic motifs indicates a spatial and funztional transition between rooms. The tessellated is laid on a layer of cocciopesto, which in set up on a layer of clay soil and rocks.
    • Excavation continued in the portico area where more wall painting was uncovered. This year the wall painting can be compared to the garden scene in the house of Livia on the Palatine, with birds in cherry trees. Further excavation continued in the rooms flanking the oecus. Two new black and white geometric mosaic floors were found, one being the standard hall way design at the site, the other a honeycomb motif. At the same time we conducted geophysical prospection in an integrated way (usign both magnetometer, electrical resistivity and ground penetrating radar) within the fields the north of the excavated area, for a total of about 5000square meters. The geophysical exploration revealed the presence of two overlapping layers of structures: the first, oldest,shows the same orientation of the roman structures of the villa and seems to show the extent of the villa for a few tens of meters to the north; the second, more recently, has a different orientation and reveals a large square structure perhaps dating back to a post-medieval period with a central court, side rooms, different entrances and a road.


    • L. Fedeli, H. Fracchia, M. Gualtieri, 2005, Cortona (AR). La villa di Ossia: campagne di scavo 1998-2005, in Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana 1: 378-371.
    • M. Gualtieri, H. Fracchia, 2008, La villa tardo-repubblicana di Ossaia: campagna di scavo 2008, in Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana 4: 447-452.
    • I. Battiloro, S. Ferrari, H. Fracchia, M. Gualtieri, T. Mattioli, 2011, La villa di Ossia, in Notizario della Soprintendenza di Toscana in press.