- Roman Republican
- Roman Imperial
- 1 AD - 300 AD
- The site known as the “Villa of the Antonines” extended across a wide area south of the eighteenth mile of the ancient Via Appia. Since the 18th century the villa, of which some structures belonging to the bath complex have always remained visible, has been identified as one of the properties of the family of the Antonines. This attribution is based on the literary sources (Historia Augusta, Antoninus Pius 1.8, Commodus 1.2) and on the discovery in 1701, at an an undetermined location between the Via Appia and the remains of the baths which still exist today, of a series of busts representing members of the imperial dynasty. Remains of the villa were described and partially excavated at several points, in a non-systematic manner, between the 18th and 19th centuries. The first truly scholarly investigation was conducted in 1989 by Drs. Nicoletta Cassieri and Giuseppina Ghini of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici per il Lazio. This investigation permitted the identification of these remains as the bathing complex of the villa. In 1996 a brief cleaning of the area conducted by the ArcheoClub of Ariccia brought to light curved masonry wall structures adjacent to the bath complex. The 2010 excavation season began new archaeological explorations directed at a systematic study of what remains of the villa complex as a whole. During this season, more thorough explorations of the aforementioned curving wall structures were undertaken. Some structural elements and the type of materials recovered seem to support the hypothesis that we are dealing with a hydraulic structure, perhaps to be interpreted as a monumental fountain. The brick stamps confirm the the attribution of the residential complex to the Antonine period. During this season of excavation, geophysical investigations were undertaken which provided evidence for probable wall structures with an orientation that is apparently independent of the curvilinear structure.
- The second field season conducted by Montclair State University took place in July 2011. The season continued the archaeological investigations begun in 2010. In 2011 we continued to investigate the curvilinear structure adjacent to the bath complex. This structure, preserved at foundation level, consists of three concentric wall segments connected by radial walls. We explored several different sectors. The NW sector was opened ex novo with the aim of verifying the results of geophysical surveys conducted in 2010, which provided evidence for the presence of wall segments there, although we have not yet been able to confirm the survey results. In the N and S-SW sectors we tried to understand whether the wall structure continued or not. So far we have been able to obtain a positive result only in the N sector. In fact, here not only do the walls continue, but we also uncovered a wall in opus latericium that perhaps belongs to a preceding construction phase, since it appears to be imbedded in the outermost wall of the curvilinear structure. The 2011 geophysical survey, conducted with a different electromagnetometer, using an induction sensor, concentrated on an area already surveyed in 2010, and on an additional strip to the north. This new survey showed, west of the curvilinear structure, an area of low conductivity, which allows the hypothesis that the walls continue so as to form an ellipse or an approximate circle, perhaps to be interpreted as an amphitheater. Similarly to 2010, the majority of the artifacts unearthed are fragments of white and polychrome marble and of black-and-white mosaic tesserae and polychrome glass tesserae. Noteworthy are also numerous anepigraphic brick stamps. In the seasons to come one of our major goals is to define the exact layout, function, and chronology of this curvilinear structure and the adjacent areas.
- During the third season of excavation, we continued the investigation of the curvilinear structure to the west of the bath complex. With the aim of defining the precise plan as well as the character of this structure, the excavation sectors to the north and east of the emerging walls were expanded and a new sector about 30m to the west of the west edge of the excavation area was opened. The continuation of investigations in the northern sector clarified the nature of a curving wall identified at the end of the previous season. It belongs to a still buried spiral staircase of which only the base of a window, a fragment of one of the treads, and the central column remain. The staircase must have led to at least one room underneath, the existence of which was already inferred since 2010 and which was apparently covered by a groin vault. Excavation in the new sector, aimed at testing the results of 2011 geophysical surveys which suggested that the already emerging walls continued so as to form an elongated oval, brought to light new curving wall segments of identical type and layout to those already uncovered. The wall structures from both areas may therefore be attributed to a single building of elliptical shape, thus lending more weight to the hypothesis that we are dealing with the amphitheatre at Lanuvium where, according to the ancient sources, Commodus killed wild beasts. The artifacts recovered consist mainly of large numbers of white and colored marble fragments, very numerous polychrome tesserae in glass paste, a number of brick stamps, especially anepigraphic ones, and ceramic fragments such as African slipware. Future investigations will seek to define the exact plan and chronology of this building and to identify other structures in the adjacent areas.
- The fourth season of excavation has confirmed beyond doubt that the “curvilinear structure” investigated since 2010 is part of an amphitheatre. In addition to the sector (Saggio A) opened in 2012 ca. 30 m to the west of the “curvilinear structure,” two new sectors (Saggio C and Saggio E) were opened in order to more precisely establish a detailed plan of this building. Saggio E, planned to coincide with what was surmised to be the northern entrance, has not yet provided archaeological data on account of the enormous quantity of earth fill here. However, explorations in Saggio C confirmed the building type and established the exact curve of the ellipse. We continued to deepen our investigations in the northern part of the main excavation area near the spiral staircase identified in 2011. We also gave much attention to the strip just to the east of the amphitheatre in order to define its topographic relationship to the adjacent bath complex. New geophysical survey was carried out on a plot ca. 150m north of the already exposed remains. This area, at present an archery range, showed evidence of anomalies suggesting the presence of buried structures. Artifacts from the 2013 excavation continue to include very numerous fragments of white and colored marble, abundant mosaic tesserae in glass paste (several with gold leaf), brick stamps both inscribed and anepigraphic, and ceramic fragments, particularly African red slipware. Among the special finds are two fragments of mosaic glass, several coins of the later Empire, and an array of nails from carpentry work. For future seasons we envision not only further investigations at the amphitheatre and the zone between it and the baths, but also archaeological explorations at the archery range and geophysical survey work in the surrounding territory.
- P. Baldassarri, 2008, Ville imperiali e arredi scultorei: i ritratti dalla villa degli Antonini nell’Ager Lanuvinus, in M. Valenti (a cura di), Residenze imperiali nel Lazio. Atti della giornata di Studio (Monteporzio Catone, 3 aprile 2004), Monteporzio Catone: 101-116.
- N. Cassieri, G. Ghini, 1990, “La cosiddetta villa degli Antonini al XVIII miglio della via Appia”, in Archeologia Laziale X (= Quaderni del Centro di studio per l'archeologia etrusco-italica 18): 168-178.
- M. Lilli, 2001, Avanzi di edifici antichi negli appunti di R. Lanciani, Roma: 39-42.
- V. Melaranci, 2001, La villa degli Antonini, in Genzano di Roma: la città, i monumenti, Genzano di Roma: 242-247.
- D. Chatr Aryamontri, T. Renner, C. Cecchini, 2013, “Nuove esplorazioni presso la c.d. Villa degli Antonini: i risultati delle campagne di scavo 2010 e 2011,” in G. Ghini e Z. Mari (a cura di),Lazio e Sabina. Atti del Convegno. Nono Incontro di Studi sulLazio e la Sabina (Roma 27-29 marzo 2012), Roma: Qasar, 2013, pp. 291-298.