• c.d. Villa degli Antonini
  • Genzano di Roma
  • Italy
  • Lazio
  • Rome
  • Nemi


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  • No period data has been added yet


  • 1 AD - 300 AD


    • The site known as the “Villa of the Antonines” extended across a wide area south of the eighteenth mile of the ancient Via Appia. Since the 18th century the villa, of which some structures belonging to the bath complex have always remained visible, has been identified as one of the properties of the family of the Antonines. This attribution is based on the literary sources (Historia Augusta, Antoninus Pius 1.8, Commodus 1.2) and on the discovery in 1701, at an an undetermined location between the Via Appia and the remains of the baths which still exist today, of a series of busts representing members of the imperial dynasty. Remains of the villa were described and partially excavated at several points, in a non-systematic manner, between the 18th and 19th centuries. The first truly scholarly investigation was conducted in 1989 by Drs. Nicoletta Cassieri and Giuseppina Ghini of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici per il Lazio. This investigation permitted the identification of these remains as the bathing complex of the villa. In 1996 a brief cleaning of the area conducted by the ArcheoClub of Ariccia brought to light curved masonry wall structures adjacent to the bath complex. The 2010 excavation season began new archaeological explorations directed at a systematic study of what remains of the villa complex as a whole. During this season, more thorough explorations of the aforementioned curving wall structures were undertaken. Some structural elements and the type of materials recovered seem to support the hypothesis that we are dealing with a hydraulic structure, perhaps to be interpreted as a monumental fountain. The brick stamps confirm the the attribution of the residential complex to the Antonine period. During this season of excavation, geophysical investigations were undertaken which provided evidence for probable wall structures with an orientation that is apparently independent of the curvilinear structure.
    • The second field season conducted by Montclair State University took place in July 2011. The season continued the archaeological investigations begun in 2010. In 2011 we continued to investigate the curvilinear structure adjacent to the bath complex. This structure, preserved at foundation level, consists of three concentric wall segments connected by radial walls. We explored several different sectors. The NW sector was opened ex novo with the aim of verifying the results of geophysical surveys conducted in 2010, which provided evidence for the presence of wall segments there, although we have not yet been able to confirm the survey results. In the N and S-SW sectors we tried to understand whether the wall structure continued or not. So far we have been able to obtain a positive result only in the N sector. In fact, here not only do the walls continue, but we also uncovered a wall in opus latericium that perhaps belongs to a preceding construction phase, since it appears to be imbedded in the outermost wall of the curvilinear structure. The 2011 geophysical survey, conducted with a different electromagnetometer, using an induction sensor, concentrated on an area already surveyed in 2010, and on an additional strip to the north. This new survey showed, west of the curvilinear structure, an area of low conductivity, which allows the hypothesis that the walls continue so as to form an ellipse or an approximate circle, perhaps to be interpreted as an amphitheater. Similarly to 2010, the majority of the artifacts unearthed are fragments of white and polychrome marble and of black-and-white mosaic tesserae and polychrome glass tesserae. Noteworthy are also numerous anepigraphic brick stamps. In the seasons to come one of our major goals is to define the exact layout, function, and chronology of this curvilinear structure and the adjacent areas.
    • During the third season of excavation, we continued the investigation of the curvilinear structure to the west of the bath complex. With the aim of defining the precise plan as well as the character of this structure, the excavation sectors to the north and east of the emerging walls were expanded and a new sector about 30m to the west of the west edge of the excavation area was opened. The continuation of investigations in the northern sector clarified the nature of a curving wall identified at the end of the previous season. It belongs to a still buried spiral staircase of which only the base of a window, a fragment of one of the treads, and the central column remain. The staircase must have led to at least one room underneath, the existence of which was already inferred since 2010 and which was apparently covered by a groin vault. Excavation in the new sector, aimed at testing the results of 2011 geophysical surveys which suggested that the already emerging walls continued so as to form an elongated oval, brought to light new curving wall segments of identical type and layout to those already uncovered. The wall structures from both areas may therefore be attributed to a single building of elliptical shape, thus lending more weight to the hypothesis that we are dealing with the amphitheatre at Lanuvium where, according to the ancient sources, Commodus killed wild beasts. The artifacts recovered consist mainly of large numbers of white and colored marble fragments, very numerous polychrome tesserae in glass paste, a number of brick stamps, especially anepigraphic ones, and ceramic fragments such as African slipware. Future investigations will seek to define the exact plan and chronology of this building and to identify other structures in the adjacent areas.
    • The fourth season of excavation has confirmed beyond doubt that the “curvilinear structure” investigated since 2010 is part of an amphitheatre. In addition to the sector (Saggio A) opened in 2012 ca. 30 m to the west of the “curvilinear structure,” two new sectors (Saggio C and Saggio E) were opened in order to more precisely establish a detailed plan of this building. Saggio E, planned to coincide with what was surmised to be the northern entrance, has not yet provided archaeological data on account of the enormous quantity of earth fill here. However, explorations in Saggio C confirmed the building type and established the exact curve of the ellipse. We continued to deepen our investigations in the northern part of the main excavation area near the spiral staircase identified in 2011. We also gave much attention to the strip just to the east of the amphitheatre in order to define its topographic relationship to the adjacent bath complex. New geophysical survey was carried out on a plot ca. 150m north of the already exposed remains. This area, at present an archery range, showed evidence of anomalies suggesting the presence of buried structures. Artifacts from the 2013 excavation continue to include very numerous fragments of white and colored marble, abundant mosaic tesserae in glass paste (several with gold leaf), brick stamps both inscribed and anepigraphic, and ceramic fragments, particularly African red slipware. Among the special finds are two fragments of mosaic glass, several coins of the later Empire, and an array of nails from carpentry work. For future seasons we envision not only further investigations at the amphitheatre and the zone between it and the baths, but also archaeological explorations at the archery range and geophysical survey work in the surrounding territory.
    • During the 2014 campaign, work continued in the amphitheatre identified in 2012. Excavations continued in Trench A and in the north and east sections of Area 1 (originally denominated area of the so-called ‘Curvilinear structure’), immediately west of the baths complex. A new area was opened (area 2 – Trench F), about 200 m north of these structures, in correspondence with the area now used as an archery range. A geophysical survey was carried out here in 2013. Walls were exposed in the area where the survey results showed anomalies although their interpretation remains difficult at present. A white and black mosaic with a decoration of linked circles forming hexagons, a motif identical to one present in the Hospitalia at Hadrian’s Villa, was also uncovered. These remains may belong to the residential part of the villa that has not been discovered to date. A large number of moulded and plain white marble fragments and several fresco fragments with geometric and vegetal decoration. Numerous other fresco fragments with floral motifs were recovered from Trench A. The material finds continue to provide a similar picture to that seen in previous years: predominance of marble fragments, both coloured and white, and glass paste tesserae; presence of epigraphic and plain tile stamps; fragments of glass mosaic; bronze and iron nails and other unidentified metal fragments. A geophysical survey was carried out in a field in the locality of Quarto della Mandorla, at about 200 m south of the baths. This requires further investigation.
    • In 2015 archaeological investigation at the Villa of the Antonines was conducted in two distinct areas: the main one where the amphitheater and the baths are (Area 1), and another (Area 2) 150 m uphill where the 2014 excavation revealed two rooms decorated with black and white mosaics, of which one, almost completely exposed, presented a motif identical to a mosaic in the Hospitalia at Hadrian’s villa, of interlocking circles defining hexagons. In Area 1 further excavation and geophysical investigation by means of microgravimetric survey inside the arena and in the sector between the outer ring of the amphitheater and the baths confirmed the presence of underground structures. In particular, the eastward expansion of Saggio A has ascertained that two parallel concrete walls oriented W-E partially exposed in 2014 formed the long sides of an apsidal, barrel-vaulted underground chamber. This room is connected, in the middle of the arena, with what must be the central gallery along the major axis of the amphitheater of which segments of walls have been partially excavated. In Area 2 portions of a new room with black and white mosaic flooring decorated with an elaborate octagonal motif were uncovered. Moreover, one of the already identified rooms, in which only a small part of the black and white mosaic was preserved, has revealed that its decoration, originally thought to be exclusively of a divided scales pattern, includes a head of a gorgon. These decorations suggest that the rooms formed part of the residential quarters of the villa, given also their location with an impressive view of plain and sea. Such features, together with continuing finds of fragmentary opus sectile elements, colored glass tesserae, and fresco fragments, although dispersed, contribute to validating the hypothesis of an extensively appointed imperial villa
    • During the 2016 season we continued to explore Area 1, where the amphitheater and the baths are located, and Area 2, ca. 150 m north of Area 1, where excavation revealed rooms decorated with black-and-white mosaics. The continuation of the investigation in Area 1 revealed new data on the layout of the substructures of the amphitheater. In the zone just west of room ζ, known since 2010, we have determined the presence of walls in connection with an underground passageway, orthogonal to the central longitudinal gallery of the building. Nonetheless, it is not clear yet if there is symmetry with the western side, where the 2015 investigation revealed the existence of an apsidal, barrel-vaulted underground chamber. Moreover, the discovery of a segment of a N-S wall showed that in the eastern sector there must have been a wall, parallel to those of the central corridor and touching at its extremities the innermost elliptical wall. This confirms the complexity of the underground passageway layout and therefore helps to corroborate the distinctive nature of this amphitheater, despite its small dimensions. In Area 2, on the basis of the presence of curving walls and a niche decorated with a gorgon mosaic uncovered in previous seasons, we opened targeted trenches in order to test the hypothesis that these structures might all have been part of a circular space (ca. 22 m diameter) with niches. This hypothesis is now strengthened by the discovery of a second, and possibly a third niche, the latter of which presented an additional fragmentary piece of mosaic. The artifacts uncovered this year in both areas are similar in typology to those found in previous seasons. In particular we found a great quantity of glass and black-and-white mosaic tiles, as well as fragments of marble and monochrome and polychrome fresco.
    • During the 2017 season we continued to explore the amphitheater, west of the bath complex (Area 1), and the plausible residential quarters of the villa (Area 2), ca. 150 m north of Area 1, where rooms decorated with black-and-white mosaics were previously discovered. In Area 1 we continued to uncover walls that are part of the underground passageway system beneath the arena of the amphitheater. The investigation of these underground rooms and corridors has contined to point to an absence of orthogonal symmetry to the central longitudinal gallery of the building of the kind one would initially have expected. We have also further explored the N-NE area outside the amphitheatre, but no significant data have emerged here so far. On the other hand, the exploration in Area 2 has confirmed the presence of the hypothesised large circular room (ca. 22 m diameter) with niches. The expansion of the investigation in a new area (saggio P) north of the already-explored trenches that aimed to identify a fourth niche of the circular room, has brought to light also parts of two new portions of black-and-white mosaics. The decorative pattern of one, at present exposed only minimally, cannot be identified, while the other seems to have covered quite a large surface and presents a vegetal decoration. Moreover, additional portion of walls uncovered here this year seem to be in connection with the ones discovered in 2016 in Saggio G and might be interpreted as a small portico. Few artefacts were found in Area 1, while in Area 2 we found a high concentration of fresco fragments, for the most part white, but some of these also carry a decorative red band.
    • The 2018 field season broadened our understanding of the site and raised new questions. Explorations in Area 1 concentrated on the complex passageways underneath the amphitheater arena, not only further confirming the presence of a continuous series of barrel vaulted rooms on the western side of the central gallery, but also revealing a small masonry structure leaning against the wall that delimits the east side of the arena, almost along the minor axis. This structure, with a narrow, square opening, is symmetrical to a similar one uncovered on the western side of the arena. The apertures of both contained several large iron nails, suggesting the placement of substantial, vertical wooden supports, the function of which still needs to be understood in the context of the arena’s use. In Area 2, we exposed more of the black-and-white mosaic found in 2017 with spiraling vines emerging from a kantharos in an angular position. Its central pseudo-emblema seems to be completely missing, but the mosaic must have decorated a probably square room of around four meters on a side. The continuation of the investigations in the southeast niche of the circular room brought to light an almost fully preserved black-and-white mosaic representing the head of a medusa in a semi-scutum similar to the one previously investigated in the northwest niche, but with interesting design and stylistic variations. Among the artifacts found here, in addition to the large quantity of fresco fragments (especially red, yellow or with floral decorations), we found a considerable quantity of epigraphic brickstamps, together with a few epigraphic ones. Finally, several World War II combat artifacts uncovered in Area 2 open a window on the recent past of this imperial villa.
    • The 2019 investigations were conducted mainly in Area 2, identified as a residential sector of the villa and located about 150 m north of the area (Area 1) containing the baths and amphitheatre. In Saggio P we continued to uncover the black-and-white, phytomorphic mosaic with kantharos and vine shoots (mosaic 5). This was now shown to have adorned a rectangular room measuring about 4 m on each side. To the north of Saggio P a new trench (Saggio S) was opened with the aim of establishing whether ancient wall structures continued toward The Via Appia. However, this latter investigation did not show the presence of ancient structures, but exposed cuts probably to attribute to works of modern urbanization and of the enlargement of the modern road via del Lavoro. At the same time, we completely exposed, and subjected to careful conservation and restoration, the mosaic representing a Medusa head framed in a half-shield (Saggio N; mosaic 4) which embellished the southeast niche of the large circular room. Lastly, we opened another exploration (Saggio T) between Area 1 and Area 2 at a point where a block of peperino similar to those found in Area 1 was visible on the surface, our goal being a clearer understanding of their topographical relationship and of the general layout of the site. This investigation established that the block is not in its original position, but at present the trench has not produced significant archaeological information. Artifacts brought to light consist mainly of fresco fragments that make up the layer that covers Mosaic 5 in Saggio P (especially white monochrome, or with phytomorphic or iconographic designs unfortunately not yet clearly identifiable). Other categories of finds include brick-stamps both epigraphical and anepigraphic, fragmentary elements in glass paste, a coin, and an assortment of iron nails.


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    • M. Di Nezza, F. Cecchini, S. Margottini, M. Di Filippo, D. Chatr Aryamontri, 2015, “Contribution of integrated geophysical survey to the archaeological investigation of the ‘Villa degli Antonini,” in Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Metrology for Archaeology (Benevento, Italy, October 22-23, 2015), 545-549
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    • D. Chatr Aryamontri, T. Renner, 2017, “Investigating the ‘Villa degli Antonini’ at Lanuivum,” Journal of Roman Archaeology 30 (2017), 372-386
    • D. Chatr Aryamontri, T. Renner, C. Albo, A. Blanco, C. Mattei, 2018, “Nuovi dati di scavo dalla c.d. ‘Villa degli Antonini’ (Genzano di Roma): osservazioni preliminari su pavimenti musivi inediti e rivestimenti parietali e pavimentali marmorei e vitrei,” in Atti del XIII AISCOM (Italian Association for the Study and the Conservation of Mosaics) Colloquium (Narni, Italy, March 15-18, 2017)
    • D. CHATR ARYAMONTRI, T. RENNER, ROBERTO CIVETTA, MARIA TERESA CIVETTA, DANIELE NEPI, CARLO ALBO, CARLA MATTEI, CLAUDIO VECCHI, “Su un nuovo pavimento musivo dalla ‘Villa degli Antonini’ presso Genzano di Roma: aspetti archeologici, tecnici e conservativi,” in Atti del XVI Colloquio per lo Studio e la Conservazione del Mosaico (AISCOM) (Roma, marzo 18-21 2020) (in corso di stampa/in press)
    • D. CHATR ARYAMONTRI, T. RENNER, C. ALBO, ALESSANDRO BLANCO, CARLA MATTEI, “New Mosaics from the 'Villa degli Antonini’ at Ancient Lanuvium,” in D. Michaelides (ed.), Proceedings of the 14th Conference of the Association Internationale pour l’Étude de la Mosaïque Antique (AIEMA) (Nicosia (Cyprus), October 15–19, 2018), Sema Ekdotike Athens (in corso di stampa/in press)
    • D. CHATR ARYAMONTRI, T. RENNER, C. ALBO, ALESSANDRO BLANCO, CARLA MATTEI, 2019a: “Nuovi pavimenti dalla ‘Villa degli Antonini’ (Genzano di Roma),” in Atti del XXIV Colloquio dell'Associazione Italiana per lo Studio e la Conservazione del Mosaico (AISCOM) (Este, marzo 14-17, 2018) (Roma, 2019): 235-244
    • D. CHATR ARYAMONTRI, T. RENNER, C. ALBO, ALESSANDRO BLANCO, CARLA MATTEI, 2019b: “Nuovi dati archeologici dalla “Villa degli Antonini” a Genzano di Roma: le indagini del 2014,” in G. Ghini, Z. Mari (eds.), in Lazio e Sabina 12. Atti del Convegno. Dodicesimo Incontro di Studi sul Lazio e la Sabina (Roma 8-9 giugno 2015), Roma: 215-220