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  • Ipogeo di Clepsina
  • Cerveteri
  • Caere
  • Italy
  • Latium
  • Rome
  • Cerveteri

Credits

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Periods

  • No period data has been added yet

Chronology

  • 700 BC - 150 AD

Season

    • A research project was launched by the Queen’s University in the central area of the plateau of Caere where the ‘hypogeum of Clepsina’ is located. Its first stage consisted of a campaign of geophysical survey over a large area between the Via delle Vigne and the Manganello sanctuary, where linear anomalies at a regular distance and parallel or orthogonal to each other were detected. Two systems are visible: one is found only in a small area near the slope of the plateau; the other extends over all of the surveyed area, overlapping the smaller one that must belong to a different phase. The orientation of the larger system is the same as the hypogeum and the other buildings excavated in the area. The first excavation campaign took place in June 2012 in the area of the hypogeum (trench I) and in correspondence with the longer linear anomaly (trench II). In trench I was uncovered a small semi-subterranean structure, partly cut in the bedrock and part built in square blocks, featuring three niches, one of which contains a small bench, probably a base or altar. The building is surrounded by three wells. The shaft of one of the wells partially breaks through a niche, which as a result had to be closed and filled of blocks of tufa. The most recent finds from the fill of the building date to the Late Republican period. In the same trench was also uncovered a layer with numerous trenches and post-holes, already identified in 2003 but not yet investigated. Its excavation has confirmed that it dates to the end of the 8th-early 7th c. BCE, the earliest occupation phase recognized in the excavations of the University of Perugia. The underground chamber of the hypogeum was cleared of modern debris and its surfaces were fully documented using ultra-high definition photography along with advanced imaging techniques. A general survey of the environmental conditions and the state of conservation of the monument and its paintings and inscriptions were also completed. The excavation of trench II has shown that the linear anomaly was produced by a long wall of tufa block, along which a sequence of superimposed street pavements of beaten ground was uncovered. NE of the wall is visible part of a building with beaten ground floors, while on the other side are the remains of several structures of blocks of tufa, one of which is a rectangular sunken room with long stairway. The gabled roof made of large stone blocks was severely damaged by modern trenches for vines. Marks on the plastered walls show that it replaced an earlier roof. A marked shift in the usage of the urban space is represented by deep layers of debris with numerous finds dating to the end of the 1st and first half of the 2nd c. AD which are found on the street pavement and inside the sunken room. Traces of later occupation are minimal, even though the inscriptions in the hypogeum attests that at least that particular building was still in use in the Severan period.
    • After the first campaign of 2012 the team of Queen’s University resumed their research project in the former Marini-Vitalini vineyard of Cerveteri. The area of trench 2, where in 2012 a street and foundations of buildings had come to light, was re-opened and enlarged. The stratigraphy of the phases preceding the Early Imperial usage of the area was investigated. It was found that the street, which in its later phase was paved, had earlier phases of beaten ground, laid down on the smoothened bedrock of tufa. North of the street, beneath thick layers of debris, probably dating to the excavations of the 19th century, have come to light some foundations made of square blocks of tufa, among which a small collecting basin set in the corner of two walls. From the basin water was drained towards the street in a terracotta pipe. South of the street was uncovered a complex sequence of phases and sub-phases. Building activity appears to have been especially intense in the Mid-Late Republican period, but there are also traces of earlier structures, in part buried beneath later floors and in part re-used as foundations. A network of terracotta pipes kept the area well drained and was connected to an underground rock-cut cistern with two points of access: a round well is cut in one corner of the structure, while a larger square opening, still sealed by two large re-used stone blocks, provides access to the main chamber of the reservoir.
    • In 2014 the team of Queen’s University resumed the investigation of the former Vigna Marini-Vitalini. Trench 3 was opened near the entrance of the hypogaeum of Clepsina, in part overlapping the area excavated by the University of Perugia in 2001-2003. The beaten ground floor already uncovered in 2001 was excavated and dated to the early 7th c. BCE. Among the abundant finds from the floor makeup stand up fragments of a stone mould for the production of metal rings and a crucible. The floor was connected to the remains of a building with foundations of slightly irregular stone blocks, wattle-and-daub walls and painted wall plaster. Portions of floors of river pebbles and clay dating back to the Late Iron Age were also uncovered. In a later phase, probably in the Late Archaic period, structures with foundations of large stone blocks covered the remains of the Orientalizing building. A large stone drain was built in a subsequent phase. This structure might mark the separation between the hypogaeum and the neighbouring Vigna Parrochiale, which is on a slightly higher ground.
    • The excavation of Vigna Marini Vitalini has resumed in 2015 with the re-opening and enlargement of Area 2. It was verified that the earliest phase of the long wall that crosses the area dates to the Archaic period. Remains of deposits of the Late Iron Age and the Orientalizing period were also uncovered. Thanks to the enlargement of the excavation it was possible to find the limits of a large court with a central platform of tufa blocks, a sort of impluvium, flanked by a well connected to a rock-cut cistern. On the bottom of the well and along the adjacent walls were pottery vases, an iron hook and a terracotta weight. A second cistern connected with the impluvium and the well was also uncovered. In the access stairway was a small deposit of coarse pottery and a large cow bone, probably a closure offering. Beside the court with cisterns is a room (E5) with a row of stones vertically set along its interior walls. Their function is uncertain, also considering that they did not emerge from the floor level. Room E5 covers earlier structures of stone blocks and pits dug into the bedrock. NW of E5 is room E6, in the E corner of which was found a jar set upside down, with the rim resting on smoothened bedrock, that was probably used as offering pit. The finds are still under study and it is not possible to date the structures with a great degree of accuracy, but it is clear that most of the above structures date to the Middle and Late Republican age, with later usage phases in the early Imperial period.
    • The excavation of Vigna Marini Vitalini has resumed in 2015 with the re-opening and enlargement of Area 2 towards NW. The team excavated some rooms located NE and SW of a space interpreted as an open courtyard (E3) with a pool in the middle which is connected to a well and two cisterns (1 and 2). The fill of cistern 2 was very rich in finds of the Early Imperial period (late 1st and first half of the 2nd c. AD). Stone and terracotta drains were also uncovered, along with an underground conical structure made of ashlar masonry (H), very similar to archaic cisterns excavated at Veii. The fill of H was very rich of artifacts of the late 1st and early 2nd c. AD. Under the floor level of the later building phases were uncovered remains of Archaic occupation, in particular a small quarry that was filled up with soil and debris in the late Archaic period and covered by a foundation wall, in a similar fashion to what happened in the neighboring Vigna Parrocchiale for the construction of the temple.
    • This season, the investigations in the ex Vigna Marini-Vitalini continued with the reopening of the hypogeum’s atrium, backfilled after a partial excavation in 2006, and the excavation of the surrounding area. The bottom level of the atrium was reached in the east corner where a plastered tunnel entered. To the south-west of the atrium, there were substantial layers put down to level and raise the floor level with a _terminus_ _post_ _quem_ dating to the late 3rd century B.C. Quarrying activities seemed to have taken place in this area. The bedrock emerged at a higher level in the north-eastern area. Here, there were large holes and cuts in the bedrock dating to the earliest phases, including the probable perimeter ditch for a hut, partially covered and obliterated by subsequent building and quarrying activities. A tomb was inserted in the partially filled ditch. It contained a 16-18 year old male individual in a supine position; there were no grave goods. Substantial foundations built of stone blocks dating to the archaic period were uncovered, relating to structures that were partially enlarged and altered in a later phase, perhaps coeval with the creation of the hypogeum. The entry _dromos_ was created by cutting the earliest layers. The later occupation phases were attested by badly damaged traces of modest structures built of tufa chippings bonded with mortar and a lime kiln of which there were clear traces abutting the north-west side of the hypogeum.

Bibliography

    • F. Colivicchi, in press, The Mundus of Caere and Early Etruscan Urbanization, in Urban Dreams and Realities. Proceedings of the Interdisciplinary Conference on the City in Ancient Cultures, Edmonton October 21st-23rd 2011.
    • La Vigna Marini: la phase la plus récente, in Les Étrusques et le Méditerranée. La cité de Cerveteri, Exhibition catalogue, Lens, Musée du Louvre-Lens 2013-Roma, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 2014, c.s.
    • Fabio Colivicchi, Mariafrancesca Lanza, Michele Scalici, Nuovi scavi nella Vigna Marini-Vitalini, atti del convegno ‘Etruria in Progress: La ricerca archeologica in Etruria Meridionale 2012,’ Roma Museo Archeologico di Villa Giulia, 19-20 Giugno 2013, c.s.
    • F. Colivicchi, G. L. Gregori, M. Lanza, A. Lepone, M. Scalici, A. Trentacoste, C. Zaccagnino, New excavations in the urban area of Caere (2012-2014), in Mouseion, 13.2, 2016, pp. 359-450.