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10 Seasons of Excavating Imperial Roman Villa

Posted in: Center for Heritage and Archaeological Studies, CHSS News, Homepage News and Events, Research

Collage of project director and roman tiles

Montclair State University’s “Villa of the Antonines” Project, which is investigating an imperial Roman villa complex in Genzano di Roma (ancient Lanuvium), Italy, conducted its 10th season of excavation and study during summer 2019.  At the heart of this year’s activities was a four-week archaeological fieldschool, under the guidance of Drs. Deborah Chatr Aryamontri and Timothy Renner, that brought ten new students and six returning students to the site to excavate and work together with Italian professional archaeologists who are part of the project team.

The students not only excavated but also learned the basic skills of cleaning and cataloguing artifacts, record-keeping, and surveying.  The villa complex includes an amphitheater and baths, but work this year focused on a group of residential rooms with black-and-white mosaic floors; several of the students worked with a master restorer on the project staff to repair and restore one of the most important of these mosaics.  The archaeological evidence suggests that the villa did in fact belong to the Antonine dynasty of emperors, including the infamous Commodus, who may have killed wild animals in its amphitheater.

This year’s participants were housed in a hotel near the center of Genzano, a friendly town of 24,000 people within commuting distance to Rome, which is located just 18 miles away. Field trips for the students included a day-long excursion to Pompeii.