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Excavation

  • Aiano-Torraccia di Chiusi
  • San Gimignano
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    Credits

    • The Italian Database is the result of a collaboration between:

      MIBAC (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale per i Beni Archeologici),

      ICCD (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione) and

      AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica).

    • AIAC_logo logo

    Summary (English)

    • This season’s campaign at the villa of Aiano had three main objectives: continuation of the excavations; survey and 3D modelling of some parts of the villa; continuation of work to consolidate and conserve the villa walls and the floor in the so-called triapsal hall.

      Excavation
      Four excavation areas were opened, most situated north of the area investigated in the past: 7600, 7900, 9700, 13000. As usual, the decision to excavate in the northern part of the area was based on the opportunity to investigate an archaeological deposit which, although c. 2m below the present ground level (taking the early medieval floor surfaces into consideration), usually presents better-preserved structures, especially those that are standing, an important element considering the planned enhancement of the site and its opening to the public. The excavation area covered c. 150 m2.

      Area 7600: northern part of the so-called room of the pillars, the excavation of which remained unfinished in 2012. Given the substantial collapses, the early medieval floor surface was not reached, but walls in collapse were identified and recorded: perimeter walls lying at a 90° angle with some portions of painted plaster still in situ. There were several hearths on the collapses, evidence for occupation of the site even when it was in ruins, and a moderate amount of coarse ware and depurated pottery was found.

      Area 7900: excavated following the removal of a part of a modern irrigation pipe. The intervention aimed to link a number of sectors investigated in the past that had remained separated.

      Area 9700: continuation of the excavation of so-called “room K”, which delimited on a N-S alignment the entire western zone of the villa. The intervention revealed an early medieval division of the room K consisting of the construction of a wall, USM 9709 (with reused stone blocks), which, in closing the excavated area to the south, formed a sort of chamber for accumulating water, its drainage and, lastly, percolation towards the southern part of room K. The latter, investigated in previous years, showed clear signs of run-off. The area was completely covered by a dense “vespaio” (loose foundation) US 9711, formed by deliberately broken brick/tile fragments creating a structure for water filtration. This structure relates to the villa’s early medieval life and its production activities.
      Area 13.000: contained by a wall to the west, this area of c. 50 m2 was characterised by the presence at the centre of several structures (walls, pillars) linked to craft working activities in the early medieval period. Given the high concentration of coins, small bronzes nummi, clipped coins etc., the area seemed to have functioned as a space for activities linked to the ponderal adaptation of the coins in circulation.

      Conservation
      This seasons’s activities had two main objectives: the restoration of the cement floor with stone-terracotta make-up in the south apse (triapsal hall) and the making good/consolidation of some of the walls. Following a wide-spectrum analysis of the state of preservation of the floor, which also checked last year’s interventions and the covering created for winter conservation, restoration work was undertaken on the floor. In this part of the hall, the floor had become detached, not just the surface tesserae but the entire thickness including the make-up. The conservation involved the use of internal injections of consolidating material.

      The floor surface, decorated with a pattern of octagons, was cleaned, which revealed more traces of the ancient reddening caused by heat. As regards the walls, there were numerous collapsed blocks were put back into position, and the wall facings and internal mortar consolidated.
      A lot of time and energy were put into developing the new seasonal covering, which was revisited and improved compared to last year’s. In fact, some problems caused by the effects of freezing- thawing typical of the winter months in the valley, led to the creation of a multi-layered covering. This comprised a semi-permeable but waterproof layer on the bottom covered by over 500 sacks made of inert material and filled with sand, in such a way as to offer the best protection to the mosaic below.

      Survey
      In 2017, following the stipulation of a research agreement with UCLouvain, the VHLab of CNR ITABC began to collaborate on the project with the aim of recording the situation using a photogrammetric aerial and land survey of the villa’s architectural remains and contributing to the understanding of the site through 3D reconstruction of the occupation phases. The preparatory analysis of the architectural complex is fundamental for the correct interpretation of the development phases and for thus being able to propose a reconstruction. The entire complex was surveyed with focus on the triapsal room. The fieldwork took place in three stages: survey and positioning of the datum points, topographical survey, and photogrammetric survey.

      Future developments: the photogrammetric survey produced a high quality result (average error 4 mm, maximum error 7 mm) considering the extension of the site (c. 3.000 m2). The collected data will constitute the state plan based on which the following products for the documentation will be created: dense points cloud that can also be used for taking measurements at any point; 2. polygonal 3D model of the villa; 3. detailed plan; 4. general sections; 5. orthophotos; 6. aerial video footage of the site. The documentation produced will also be used as a reference base for the creation of a virtual reconstruction of the development phases of the archaeological complex.

    • Marco Cavalieri - Université catholique de Louvain, Faculté de Philosophie, Arts et Lettres, Centre d'étude des Mondes Antiques 

    Director

    • Agnese Lodi

    Team

    • Angela Sardini
    • Francesco Tanganelli - Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni archeologici, Università degli Studi di Firenze
    • Giacomo Cesaretti - Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni archeologici, Università degli Studi di Firenze
    • Samanta Sabatini - Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni archeologici, Università degli Studi di Firenze
    • Thomas Daniaux - UCLouvain
    • Angela Di Paola
    • Fabrizio Conte
    • Michele Montanaro
    • Raffaella Guarino
    • Vittoria Cutolo
    • Anthony Peeters - UCLouvain
    • Gloriana Pace- Università degli Studi di Pisa
    • Sara Lenzi- Università degli Studi di Firenze
    • Alberto Garzonio- Università degli Studi di Firenze
    • Andrea Palombini - VHLab del CNR ITABC
    • Daniele Ferdani - VHLab del CNR ITABC
    • Emanuele Demetrescu - VHLab del CNR ITABC
    • Blaimont Eléonore - Jérôme Denet - Benoît Evrard - Paul Grignard - Guillaume Notte - Fanny Thirion - Benjamin Tresca - Matthieu Delmeulle - Delphine Mulpas - Chantal Rousseau - Giacomo Ponticelli - Guidi Caterina - Debora Dipietro - Luca Polidoro
    • Alessandro Novellini

    Research Body

    • Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain)

    Funding Body

    • Comune di San Gimignano
    • F.R.S.-FNRS - Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique del Belgio

    Images

    • file_image[PDF]