- No period data has been added yet
- 99 BC - 199 AD
- Nel mese di Agosto 2015 ha preso avvio l’indagine archeologica e l’attività di documentazione presso la villa marittima del Capo di Sorrento in località Sorrento (Na). Le ricerche, già iniziate nel 2014 con una campagna di survey e di documentazione della _pars maritima_ della villa, fanno capo all’Università “Humboldt” di Berlino in collaborazione con la Soprintendenza Archeologia Campania. L’attività di documentazione, nella direzione del dott. Will Kennedy, ha riguardato la redazione di una nuova planimetria aggiornata della villa e una dettagliata campagna di fotografie aeree grazie all’utilizzo del drone. L’attività di scavo diretta dal dott. Wolfgang Filser e dalla dott.ssa M. Rosaria Perrella, si è concentrata nell’area della _pars rustica_, oggi corrispondente ad un uliveto di proprietà comunale. L’indagine stratigrafica ha riguardato tre saggi specifici realizzati in corrispondenza del muro di sostruzione in opera calcarea di terrazzamento della villa. Lo scavo del saggio 1 ha evidenziato l’affioramento della roccia calcarea, presenza costante all’interno di tutto il complesso, con tracce di lavorazione realizzate per la canalizzazione delle acque. Lo scavo del saggio 2 ha evidenziato la presenza di strati antichi già però disturbati al momento dell’impianto e del conseguente livellamento del terreno per l’uliveto. Parallelamente al muro di sostruzione della villa il saggio 3, ad una profondità di circa 1,40 m, ha messo in luce la presenza di una pavimentazione calcarea con tracce di malta grigio chiara. Il dato in questione confermerebbe l’ipotesi della pertinenza del muro di sostruzione al primo terrazzamento della villa, da cui si sarebbero poi sviluppati gli altri terrazzi fino alla spianata calcarea della _pars maritima_. In corrispondenza del muro di sostruzione della _pars rustica_ un breve sondaggio (B) ha messo in luce la traccia della fondazione in calcare del muro stesso. Al muro di sostruzione è stato appoggiato, in tempi più recenti, uno spesso muro in pietrame calcareo irregolare allettato da una malta grigio chiara, interpretato da Mingazzini come muro antico. La pulizia approfondita del muro in questione e il breve sondaggio B mostrano come in realtà lo spesso muro in appoggio sia pertinente ad una cronologia molto più tarda, dato ulteriormente confermato dalla presenza di un deposito di materiale moderno, fine ottocentesco, in prossimità del muro stesso. Nell’ambito della documentazione delle strutture della _pars maritima_ è stata effettuata una pulizia di uno dei vani della facciata settentrionale a cura del dottor Cristoph Klose. Il vano, interpretato da Mingazzini e poi più tardi da F. Rakob, come fondazione di un faro può offrire nuove linee di interpretazione. Una breve campagna di scavi effettuata da F. Rakob negli anni 1964-1967 dava già una cronologia più tarda a questo vano rispetto al resto delle strutture della villa. I grossi piloni in opera laterizia a cui vanno associate tre vasche in opera cementizia vanno identificati come azioni successive nella fase di abbandono della villa dopo il violento terremoto del 62 d.C. e la conseguente eruzione del 79 d.C. Le vasche in opera cementizia e ricoperte di coccio pesto possono essere associate alle note vasche di fermentazione per la produzione di _garum_, localizzate in antico per lo più sulla spiaggia o sui promontori antistanti il litorale, di norma a pianta quadrata o rettangolare con gli spigoli arrotondati.
- A campaign of excavation and geomorphological documentation took place on the maritime villa of Capo Sorrento at Sorrento (Na). Excavation took place in the _pars_ _rustica_ and the _pars_ _maritima_ of the entire complex. Within the _pars_ _rustica_, situated in an olive grove owned by the council, a 2015 trench was reopened in correspondence with the terracing wall of the so-called _domus_ of the villa. A white limestone block was exposed, interpretable as the foundation of a floor from one of the villa’s occupation phases. In the _pars_ _maritima_ , once the vegetation was cleared, the structures in the area of the so-called “ramp” emerged, that is the sector in the system of ramps situated south-east of the villa parallel to the natural grotto. Here, it was possible to identify a complex system of connecting ramps that from the upper peristyle led to the _pars_ _rustica_ and the calcareous platform to the south-east. The open-air ramps, attached to _opus_ _reticulatum_ walls made of yellow Neapolitan tufa, were connected as far as the calcareous platform in the direction of the sea and were over 10 m long. This system places a new accent on the ways in which the _pars_ _rustica_ and the _pars_ _maritima_ were linked. The monumental character of the ramp recalls similar systems, for example the one at Villa_Jovis_ on Capri, where the changes in level in the terrain were exploited using ramp systems built on several levels. Excavations also took place in rooms W4 and W5 of the _pars_ _maritima_ (numbering taken from the plan made by P. Mingazzini- F. Pfister Surrentum, Florence 1946) facing the villa’s north facade. In room W5, the investigation began in the sector between the _opus_ _vittatum_ _mixtum_ pillars where a layer of collapse was excavated that contained pottery finds relating to the villa phase, in addition to tufa blocks and tile that were the same as the materials used in the pillars. Traces of a kiln were found in this layer. The excavation inside room W5 revealed important evidence both in phase with the masonry-built pillar foundations at the centre of the room, and relating to the abandonment phase of the complex. In front of room W5, a corridor was excavated with two specific _sondages_ in the north-western corner of the villa and along the north corridor. These trenches produced further evidence regarding the moment of the villa’s construction thanks to the discovery in the southern part of the corridor of two foundation walls in _opus_ _caementicium_ with materials in phase with the villa present within the layers associated with the building of the walls. These excavations, which in part sought to document structures previously excavated, but unpublished, by the German Archaeological Institute, Rome, provided important evidence for dating the villa’s construction and destruction. Following the excavations a short campaign of geomorphological investigation was carried out by Humboldt University’s Geography Institute. Core samples were taken in the _pars_ _rustica_ from which important data emerged regarding the rock formation and the Roman floor remains below the modern gardens covering the ancient terraces of the villa’s _fundus_. Even more significant was the data obtained from geophysical surveys that provided precise information about the large area of the _pars_ _rustica_, which will be of great use for the 2017 excavations.
- During this season, excavations took place in the _pars_ _rustica_ and the _pars_ _maritima_. Two trenches were opened (8 and 12, figs. 1-3) on the northern edge of the second terrace of the _pars_ _rustica_ above a substantial _caementicium_ foundation. This was clearly an integral part of the _pars_ _rustica_: floors and walls in _opus_ _caementicium_ and a mosaic attest the presence of reception rooms that must have been part of the large _domus_ above the seaside villa. Future campaigns will follow these structures along the entire north side (c. 50 m) in order to put them on the plan and create a 3D model of this important part of the villa. It may have been a veranda opening towards the north providing view over the first terrace of the _pars_ _rustica_ and the seaside villa. In addition, structures emerged below the vegetation in the area between the south-west and the villa’s two harbours (figs. 1-2). These were part of the _pars_ _maritima_ and included an aqueduct (fig. 3) heading north that must have linked the _pars_ _maritima_ to the monumental cisterns situated below the artificial terraces. This hydraulic system provided water to the seaside villa. A few metres away (trench 10, fig. 2) an ancient layer of ash and lapilli appeared, which contained fine ware pottery and Roman amphorae that can be considered part of the 79 A.D. eruption (fig. 4). The layer of volcanic material (c. 40-70 cm) fell on structures that were already damaged showing that the villa was already in ruins when Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. This is the first straigraphic evidence of the eruption in the area of the villa of Capo Sorrento. Large-scale cleaning was undertaken on the _pars_ _maritima_ in order to expose the rooms south of the central quadriporticus excavated in the 1960s. These rooms were added to the plan with some corrections at the eastern corner of the _basis_ _villae_. Large amounts of painted wall plaster (1st-4th style) were present in the back fill of the old excavations in addition to two previously unknown _opus_ _incertum_ walls underneath the villa’s _opus_ _reticulatum_ foundations (trench 7, fig. 1-2, 6), attesting the existence of an earlier phase. The two walls created a narrow corridor that was filled by a large amount of compact soil. This was probably the remains of an access ramp or stairway that was demolished and then incorporated into the _basis_ _villae_ of the _opus_ _reticulatum_ villa. Fragments of 1st style wall plaster support the suggested existence of an earlier phase. The general photogrammetry survey of the villa continued on land and sea (in the villa’s two harbours) with the aim of creating a single 3D model. The photogrammetry of the sea floor in the harbour will be used to identify the architectural elements fallen from the harbour islands (fig. 7) and the villa. Therefore, much was added to our knowledge of the architecture and chronology during this campaign. Excavations, geomorphological and photogrammetric activities will continue in 2018.
- The 2018 campaign enhanced our knowledge of the phase prior to the reticulatum villa (fig. 1). Two trenches were opened on the pars maritima: one on the western side, the other on the eastern side of the basis villae. On the mainland (“pars rustica”) the excavation of a large structure built of opus caementitium walls and coccio pesto floorings carrying mosaics was continued. By means of underwater archaeological survey (led by M. Reinfeld, DAI Berlin) and geological as well as geo-archaeological studies under the guidance of M. Makki and Jan Lentschke (both Humboldt-University, Berlin) further important insights into the original topography and the ancient building works that accompanied the construction of the grand terraces and the harbor of the villa were gained. Of particular interest was the discovery of traces of the construction work belonging to a mole uniting the pars maritima and the three little islets along the northern side of the outer port. Cuts in the bedrock of the harbor basin (fig. 2) attest the use of scaffoldings for caissons into which the caementitium foundation of the mole had been set. This correlates with traces of fixture on the surface of the first islet as well as large and small-scale architectural members that were discovered on the bottom of the harbor basin below the islets already during the last campaigns. We therefore now have evidence of an elaborately decorated pier serving not only as a breakwater but probably as a landing with direct access to the garden of the pars maritima. The most extensive works regarded the structure in opus caementitium walls and coccio pesto floorings carrying mosaics, which had already been excavated partially during the 2017 campaign on the second terrace of the pars rustica. After having now unearthed a greater part of it we now begin to understand its original design and function (fig. 1, 3). As matters now stand, the approximately 50 m long structure appears to have had two lateral risalits at its eastern and western corners. Its position on the northern fringe of the second terrace is equally intriguing: Clearly, it must be explained by the aim to build an architecturally framed outlook with a double function. While one looked down upon the first terrace of the pars rustica and the pars maritima below it from the western part, from its eastern part the view of the gulf of Naples was unobstructed. The representative character of the building is confirmed by the resmains of its mosaic floor, which completely covered its surface except for its northern closing wall. Whether we have to imagine a roofed porticus or an uncovered terrace closed by a half-height balustrada remains unclear (excavation of its southern back wall is planned for the 2019 campaign). Furthermore, stairways on the eastern and western sides are expected as well, which will have to be confirmed by excavations in the upcoming campaign. It is to be highlighted that the discovery of this monumental and clearly representative element of the “pars rustica” carries significance for our general knowledge of the maritime villas on the Sorrentina as well, as the mainland structures are usually situated in private property and do not permit accurate investigations. Our knowledge of the architectural layout and the chronology of the spacious villa and its harbor has thus been considerably increased during the 2018 campaign. For the next season, we plan to continue with the excavation of the different parts of the villa and the surveying of its harbor. Geophysical and photogrammetric studies will also continue to provide complementing data for understanding the complex.
- As in the previous years, the 2019 season continued stratigraphical investigations on the _pars_ _maritima_ and the terraces on the slopes above (fig. 1). A large trench was opened on the eastern part of the basis villae (f, fig. 2). Excavation work of the large structure bordering the northern limit of the second terrace was carried out in several places (fig. 1, 4). Geo-archaeological investigations conducted by Mohsen Makki and Jan Lentschke comprised core drillings and palinological research complementary to the archaeological exploration of the Roman terraces. For a better understanding of the architectural layout of the upper storey the large area f (fig. 2, 3) on the eastern part of the basis villae was partially unearthed. Remnants of the lower stratum of a severely damaged pavement running along the room's walls were discovered, thus confirming that f is to be considered rather a roofed hall than an open court. A considerable amount of broken marble plates were found within the strata above the pavement. These were of various colours and clearly belonged to the room's flooring as testified for room o by the mortar beddings of an opus sectile marble pavement. Thus, important information regarding the relation of the rooms (g, n, i, o, h) between hall f and the quadriporticus a were gained. As indicated by the door opening on the north-western corner of hall f and the complete opening between hall f and room i, the architectural layout of this area closely resembles the plans of the Villa of the Papyri and Villa di San Marco. A massive opus caementitium structure with large limestone caementa appeared below the collapsed parts of the floor. This is comparable to the foundation walls of the opus incertum phase which were discovered on the pars maritima during the past seasons. Clearly, the large structure had been set on the limestone rock in order to sustain substantial architecture. Later, during the opus reticulatum phase, it was partially demolished and built over by the basis villae. This confirms the results from the previous campaigns, giving further proof of an older villa possibly dating to the beginnings of the first or even second century B.C. At a later date, after the erection of the medieval chapel of Santa Fortunata and probably before the construction of the watch tower, area f was used as a cemetery by cutting tombs into the pavement. One of these contained the skeletal remains of a human of undetermined sex. Excavation of the large structure bordering the second terrace (figs. 1 and 4) was continued, unearthing additional parts of the pavements carrying limestone mosaics, walls, and foundations. These new structures largely revised our notion of the entire complex. Firstly, as we assumed in 2018, an access composed of a broad ramp in north western direction leads up to the structure from the eastern cliff of the cape. A portion of a tall reticulatum-faced wall in north-south orientation remains some few meters to the east of this ramp. Here the ramp turned towards the maritime part and at some lower point joined with the _ambulatio_ . At its western end, having reached the level of the second terrace, the ramp merges with the pavement leading along the northern border of the structure. In the centre of this construction a part of a massive foundation in _opus_ caementitium_ proceeding towards the south was found (fig. 4). Considering its different orientation and its dimensions, it surely must have sustained more than the scarce remains of pavements and walls. The continuation of the foundation in southern direction is yet unknown. Future excavations will clarify its original form and function. To date, only some hypothetical remarks can be made concerning the overall layout of the second terrace. We obviously must account for a diversified use of the different transitional and non-transitional elements of this monument. The discovery of several _ollae_ _perforatae_ (fig. 5) found in situ along the eastern side of this foundation offers further insights into the general layout of this part of the villa. The small planting pots flanking the ramp and the corridor with its eastern corner delineate the borders of an ornamental garden. Its extension to the south and possible inner partition will be explored in future campaigns. It is already obvious that the representative buildings of the villa complex reached well beyond the maritime parts, probably culminating in the superstructures of the enormous cistern on the third terrace, which we consider to be the domus of the entire estate.
- P. Mingazzini, F. Pfister, 1946, Forma Italiae, Regio I, Latium et Campania, II, Surrentum, Firenze.
- W. Johannowski, E. La Forgia, M. Romito, 1986, Le ville romane dell’età Imperiale, Napoli.
- M. Russo, 2006, La villa romana del Capo Sorrento, Sorrento.
- W. Filser, B. Fritsch, W. Kennedy, C. Klose and R. Perrella, Surrounded by the sea: re-investigating the villa maritima del Capo di Sorrento. Interim report, in: Journal of Roman Archaeology, vol. 30, 2017, pp. 64-95; M. Russo, La Villa Romana del Capo di Sorrento (2006); P. Mingazzini / F. Pfister, Surrentum. Forma Italiae I,2 (1946), 121-132.