The Villa of the Antonines 2017 Excavation: Facts, Finds, and Future

Profs. Deborah Chatr Aryamontri and Timothy Renner, Dept. of Classics & General Humanities, Montclair State University

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, 7 PM, School of Business Room 140, Montclair State University

In 2010 the MSU Center for Heritage & Archaeological Studies began a project of archaeological and historical investigation at the then-little known “Villa of the Antonines” site in modern Genzano di Roma, or ancient Lanuvium, 18 miles southeast of the center of Rome along the Via Appia.   The site’s traditional identification with a major residence of the Antonine emperors—ending with the infamous Commodus (180-192 CE), who is reported to have performed animal-killing exploits there and consequently to have been hailed as “Hercules”—has turned out to be probably the correct one.

From the beginning, the excavations of MSU’s project began to yield thousands of colorful glass mosaic tiles (tesserae) and hundreds of pieces of decorative, imported marble segments used to cover floors and walls (opus sectile), thus demonstrating the very elite socio-economic character of the owners.  Brickstamp chronology and the general characteristics of the artifacts fit well into the Antonine age, and excavation has brought to light a small but well-equipped amphitheater that could be the one where Commodus got his start as a “sportsman.”  During 2017 work at the site continued to reveal a fascinating series of rooms and passageways beneath the arena of this building, as well as additional rooms embellished with geometric and figured mosaics in the residential part of the villa.  These latest development, together with an attempt to assess how the site fits into what we know of imperial properties more generally, will form the subject of this talk.

Villa event 2017 poster