Following the important finds made in 2014-2016, in particular the large room with mosaic floor, the 2017 campaign concentrated on two objectives: a substantial westward extension of the main excavation area and the opening of a new area north of the room with mosaic, both aimed at contextualising the mosaic itself.
The enlargement of the main area confirmed that this part of the site was already the object of the 19th century excavations, documented by a plan of 1831 housed in the State Archives of Florence. The presence in this area of fragments of polychrome mosaic, with medium-large tesserae in geometric motifs is of particular interest, and they seem to date a late antique phase of the complex. Also of interest were the remains of the make-up for a large opus sectile floor, which decorated a space, presumably open-air, at the centre of the complex.
In some points, deep ploughing had cut the make-up for the late antique and antique floors and therefore it was possible to reach the underlying stratigraphy. A sondage revealed the remains of a roughly square room, with walls of broken tile and an opus signinum floor, relating to an occupation phase that preceded the first villa/mansio, whose construction can be dated to approximately the 1st century B.C.
In the second area, a large bath complex was uncovered, presumably of late antique date, which reused a substantial portion of the 1st century B.C. villa maritima. The bath complex was formed by three hot rooms with the presence of suspensurae and was closed to the north and west by two large semicircular pools, one definitely heated and only just visible, of a type similar to a pool shown in the plan of the 19th century excavations. Therefore, this appears to have been a large bath complex, which at some point during its long history included the room with the mosaic floor, although the latter’s function within it remains to be established.
The discovery of this unexpected bath complex led to the re-examination of a structure situated in the central part of the field, a few dozen metres away from the main excavation area, seen in the trial trenches dug at the start of this research in 2004. At the time, it was interpreted as a collection vat for waters flowing down from the hill.
A new trench opened in this area revealed the presence of a much larger structure than expected, characterised by robust cement perimeter walls, which seemed to indicate its use was related to water. The presence of apertures between the spaces forming the structure and an opening towards the exterior suggest that it could be an installation connected with fish farming, even though other suggestions cannot be excluded prior to the continuation of the excavations.
- Enrico Zanini, Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche e dei Beni Culturali
- Elisabetta Giorgi, Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche e dei Beni Culturali
- Elsa Pacciani- Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali
- Samanta Mariotti - Università degli Studi di Siena
- Pasquino Pallecchi- Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali
- Andrea Bellotti
- Francesco Ripanti
- Nina Marotta
- Università degli Studi di Siena
- Agriturismo Casa Ricci - Riotorto
- Azienda Agricola Tenuta di Vignale s.r.l. - Piombino
- Camping Pappasole s.p.a. - Piombino
- Comune di Piombino - Quartiere di Riotorto
- Direzione Nazionale Unicoop Tirreno – Piombino
- Villaggio La Madonnina - Follonica