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Excavation

  • San Martino del Piano
  • Fossombrone
  • Forum Sempronii

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    • 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).

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    Summary (English)

    • The 2009 campaign was mainly concentrated on the Domus of Europa with some work being undertaken on the Domus of the exotic animals.

      Domus of Europa

      Excavations were undertaken in several rooms situated to the north of the triclinium with the mosaic of Europa and the Bull.
      Room O, directly north of the triclinium and already identified in 2008, was seen to be divided into a further four rooms, denominated O1, O2, O3 and O4. Initially room O2 was the only bath structure, with suspensurae and floors and walls faced with opus signinum. Immediately to the south another room was created which had bases probably for hot water tanks (room O1). Room O4 housed the praefurnium, whilst O3 was probably where the wood was stored and the ash dumped which was then used in the fullonica, identified in 2008 in room Q, close to the domus entrance.

      The stratigraphy dated the end of the room’s function as a bath structure to between the end of the 2nd –beginning of the 3rd century A.D. Subsequently rooms O3 and O4 were unified and paved with lime surfaces on a make up of stone chippings. At the same time the opening between O2 and O1 was blocked, and the heated rooms were filled with dumped material. Room O1 was then paved with a mosaic of coarse white tesserae.

      Room U is situated immediately north of room O. Here numerous fragments of painted plaster were found which had all fallen in a uniform manner, with the painted side face down. The wall plaster, about 1.50 m high and 2 m long, was divided into three large panels: two side panels painted red with a wreath and entwined ribbons, and a central panel. The latter depicted two figures, a male nude in heroic pose, with sandals and a cape and a cloaked woman, her feet resting on a rocky outcrop. This is certainly a mythological scene and seems to represent Perseus and Andromeda, but this will only be confirmed following restoration work.

      Below the painted plaster was a layer of collapsed material about 20 cm thick, containing a few pottery fragments datable to the 2nd century A.D., which covered a geometric floor mosaic with white, black and red tesserae and a central star formed by lozenges as the central motif. The mosaic had been damaged in several places in antiquity.

      Room S, immediately north of room N had been partially investigated in 2008. During the 2009 season the room, which had been uncovered in past centuries, was completely excavated. This revealed a mosaic floor, damaged in the centre where the central motif had been lost. The mosaic was characterised stars of black tesserae, converging towards the centre, on a white background. On the west side there were at least two repairs made with middle sized tesserae put into place on their long sides. The north and south walls, in opus vittatum, were exposed, however the west and east walls, probably in opus craticium did not survive apart from a few patches of plaster. At the entrance to the domus, situated on the cardo known as “Via dei Severi”, on its eastern side, the perimeter of room R was defined following the removal of the layer of collapse US 150. A preliminary date for this material can be given as the 2nd century A.D. (a sestertius showing the consecration of Lucius Verus, dated to after 169 A.D. was found in the collapse). This US also produced an ivory artefact in the shape of a butterfly, probably a lady’s personal ornament for hair or clothing.

      Domus of the exotic animals

      Only a minimal part of the domus is visible, situated on Via del Forno, west of the basalt-paved road, due to the presence of a modern road whose construction destroyed the archaeological remains. Only the rooms adjacent to the cardo are preserved. The area was exposed during the 1999-2000 campaigns. This year the excavation recommenced in order to better define the stratigraphy and to prepare the remains for conservation and the subsequent opening to the public.

      The domus was accessed through a small entrance on the west side of the Via del Forno. There was no corridor but the entrance led straight into the courtyard with a central impluvium, paved in limestone slabs (Room B). From the atrium a room was entered to the north paved in opus signinum with a border of black tesserae and a central motif of a mosaic rosette of white, black and pink tesserae (Room A). To the south of Room B room© was characterised by the presence of wall plaster painted with panels inside which were exotic animals. This room has given the name to the domus and the restored wall paintings are housed in the “A. Avernarecci” Archaeological Museum at Fossombrone. Room D came to light immediately south of Room C and was completely occupied by a circular structure of reused brick, stone and tile, interpretable as an oven. This structure occupied the room in a relatively late period. In fact, the preliminary excavation data attests that the domus was probably abandoned during the 3rd century A.D. and subsequently reoccupied and used for different purposes within the same century. Room A was divided in two by the construction of an opus spicatum wall made of reused bricks and stone. The wall obliterated the mosaic rosette at the centre of the floor. A masonry-built well, characterised by projecting stones, was opened in the impluvium and took water from the cistern below. Room C was paved with a layer of amphora fragments (datable to the 2nd century A.D.) forming the make up for an opus signinum floor surface. This arrangement was clearly to provide drainage and waterproofing and suggests that this room, next to which the oven was built, had a productive function.

      This year’s interventions were limited to cleaning the area and planning excavations for the 2010 campaign. Work on the project agreed with the Superintendency for the opening of the two domus to the public, including the restoration and covering of the structures, continued. Each year, from 1974 onwards, interventions aimed at the study, protection and enhancement of the Archaeological Park are undertaken by Urbino University.

    • Mario Luni - Università degli Studi di Urbino, Istituto di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte Antica 
    • Oscar Mei - Università di Urbino, Dipartimento di Scienze del Testo e del Patrimonio Culturale 

    Director

    Team

    • Cecilia Longarini
    • Giancarlo Gori - Museo di Fossombrone
    • Marcello Montanari
    • Roberta Leone
    • Paolo Quiri - Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici delle Marche

    Research Body

    • Università degli Studi di Urbino

    Funding Body

    • Comune di Fossombrone

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