In 2011, the Via Consolare Project continued excavation in the southern side of Insula VII 6, 26 and VII 6, 27 to continue to clarify the nature of the ancient activities identified in previous field seasons and to finalise the sub-surface investigations initiated in 2008. The area of the eastern half of Archaeological Area 001, measuring roughly four by five metres, was reopened and backfill from the 2009 field season was removed. Stratigraphic excavation was then undertaken to the level of natural soils in the majority of this area, bringing subsurface examination in AA001 to a close. As a result, it is now possible to present a complete stratigraphic sequence for the southern rooms of properties 26 and 27, and to connect the associated chronology to the relative development of much of Insula VII 6.
A long history of urban transformation might be expected in Insula VII 6 given the proximity of this area to the Forum, the so-called ‘altstadt’, and the Terme del Foro. Indeed, excavations have confirmed a complicated sequence of development, long-term use, and re-use in the south-eastern corner of the block, illustrating the transformation of the area from elite domestic space of the mid-2nd c. BC into a group of purpose-built commercial structures at the beginning of the 1st c. BC and finally into a construction zone during the final years prior to the eruption of Vesuvius. It is also clear that the evolving utilisation of these areas frequently involved the widespread removal of soils and floors, presenting a highly-interwoven archaeological record preserved completely only in the combination of data from both soil deposits and architectural remains.
The documentation of the complete chronological sequence in AA001 has also yielded information in support of the insula-wide phasing carried out through analysis of the standing architecture. In 2011, the construction phases identified and studied in the walls of the insula were coordinated with the subsurface evidence and a working geographical information system (GIS) database was created serving to coordinate all data produced by the project. The use of structure-from-motion 3D point capture using consumer grade digital cameras has revolutionized all aspects of the project’s research methodology and has permitted the creation of rich, highly-detailed, three-dimensional surface models of standing remains and sub-surface deposits.
During the final weeks of the 2011 field season, preliminary investigations were undertaken in a 4 by 5 metre area at the north-west corner of the Casa di Secundus Tyrannus Fortunatus (VII 6, 28), situated against one of the earliest walls of the insula built in opus africanum (type A). Removal of modern build-up was undertaken in order to establish the degree of preservation of the AD 79 surface, to examine the relationship of the walls below the levels with the greatest amount of modern debris, and to compare this information against geophysical research undertaken in 2007. The clean uncovered the continuation of a wall that was obliterated in the allied bombing in 1943, but produced few traces of intact flooring. Further excavation in the future will serve to clarify the chronology and development of this area.
- Michael A. Anderson - San Francisco State University
- Claire J. Weiss - University of Virginia
- Amy Bower
- Daniel Jackson
- Erin Pitt
- Megan Gorman
- Stephanie Pearson
- Victoria Keitel
- San Francisco State University
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