• Complesso delle “Terme degli Stucchi Dipinti”


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    • 199 BC - 99 AD


      • This monumental complex is conventionally known as the “Baths of the Painted Stuccos” because of the numerous fragments of III/IV style figured frescoes and stuccos found here. It was discovered in 2013 during rescue excavations close to the archaic route of the Tusculum-Fidenae road, in a slightly raised area facing south-west towards the Fosso dell’Incastro. All of the structures are badly damaged by post First World War agricultural activities, which razed the walls that are now only preserved to a few tens of centimetres in height, while the plan of the rooms partially cut into the leucite bedrock is clearly legible. The 2013 excavations documented the perimeter walls of several rooms belonging to a large villa built on several levels, with the excavation of two rooms of a bath complex, the _calidarium_ and probable _laconicum_, and a _biclinium_ or _cubiculum_. In 2014, Tor Vergata Rome University began the excavation of the entire bath complex, which continued in 2015. The _praefurnium_, _tepidarium_ and a _natatio_ were uncovered. The style of the frescoes and material finds date the baths to the Julio-Claudian period. The rooms adjacent to the baths belong to the villa’s original structure and present several phases dating to the late Republican period. A kitchen, a room with a vat, an apsidal structure, passageways, and a large open courtyard were excavated. In some cases these rooms were radically altered or razed and covered by successive floor surfaces during the course of early imperial changes to the lay out, in particular when the baths were inserted into the villa. In 2016, the excavations concentrated on the southern sector, uncovering a containing wall built up against the terrain, which marks a terrace on which two rooms were aligned. The rooms had a paving with a stone base, faced towards the south-west and were separated by a corridor that sloped to compensate the difference in height with the terrace below. A room with partially preserved walls, _in_ _situ_ mosaic floor and frescoes was excavated on the east side of the courtyard. The investigations also provided further information about the imposing system of channels supplying and draining water during the various phases of the villa’s occupation. The supply system was formed by a canalization mainly fed from a large branching tunnel cistern previously investigated by the Superintendency, which was partially intercepted and excavated. A _noria_ was installed in this conduit, situated in the north and eastern parts of the complex. The drainage channels were excavated in the south-western part of the investigated area.
      • The villa of the “Baths of the Painted Stuccoes” owes its name to the numerous fragments of polychrome stucco and plaster found during the excavation. It is situated in the south-eastern suburb of Rome, close to a road that was already in use in the archaic period, but which in the late Republican and imperial periods was paved and used for travel between the various landed estates. Discovered during a rescue excavation undertaken by the Superintendency in 2013, the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” has been excavating there since 2014. To date, the villa has produced a large bath complex, service rooms, rooms for entertaining and a reception room which, together with the quality of the floor, wall and ceiling decoration, confirm the residential nature of the building from the proto-imperial period onwards. To date, there is only archaeological evidence for a link between the villa and a landed estate associated with it for the first phases of the area’s use. Despite this, the “Villa of the Baths of the Painted Stuccoes” constitutes an exceptional discovery within the panorama of settlement in the Roman countryside. Indeed, unlike many other villas it was quickly abandoned and shows no evidence of alterations in the mid-imperial, late antique period or subsequent periods. The style of the frescoes and the finds show that the villa, built in the 2nd century B.C., underwent a series of enlargements and embellishments in the Julio-Claudian period and was abandoned soon afterwards. Prior to its abandonment, the villa was systematically robbed of all furnishings and the most valuable materials. Several rooms, including a kitchen, a courtyard with an impluvium, a _biclinium_ and an apsidal structure in _opus_ _reticulatum_ delimiting an exterior space can be dated to the villa’s first phases between the late Republican and Augustan period. The sumptuous baths, comprising the _calidarium_, _tepidarium_, _frigidarium_, _laconicum_, _praefurnium_ and a _natatio_ were built in the Julio-Claudian period. The southern extension to the complex, which includes some service rooms, others with mosaic and rubricated cement floors with and a large reception room (_triclinium_), with walls standing to up to one metre in height and completely frescoed.


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