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Hadrian's Villa: archaeological campaign 2014

Advanced Program of Ancient History and Art

APAHA’s 2014 archaeological campaign at Hadrian’s Villa launched a long-term project whose main goal, beside and alongside its educational component, is to investigate the dimension of everyday life of the villa through its material culture. Other foci of the project are the study of the site’s post-Hadrianic life, its boundaries, and more generally its transitional and liminal spaces.
The 2014 season focused on two discrete sectors: the “Lararium,” located off the Great Vestibule, which was built in front of a small temple and is characterized by a well-preserved wall enclosure lined with niches. As it is a crucial node of the villa’s architectonic layout, we aimed to shed new archaeological light on the rituals governing the access to the villa. The area had been partially excavated (and insufficiently documented) through few small sondages in the 1930s. APAHA’s dig has brought to light new structures, and has revealed the architectural history of the area in all its complexity, establishing that both the wall enclosure and the temple consist of several construction phases, some of which likely date to post-Hadrianic times.
The second excavation area was located in the “Macchiozzo,” a sector of the villa that was previously unexplored and almost completely unknown, despite being located roughly at the center of the villa and at the crossroads of the main axes of various neighboring and better-known buildings. The excavation, which was preceded by geomagnetic prospections, has brought to light the existence of a large compound of Hadrianic age combining elements of luxury architecture, such as marble-faced walls, and quite possibly utilitarian structures. The great amount of kitchenware found during the dig—an unusual feature at Hadrian’s Villa—hints that the kitchens of the villa are located in this area, a working hypothesis worth testing in the coming seasons. No less important was the identification of Late Antique and Medieval phases, attested to by both architectural structures and copious findings; after the analysis now under way, these will certainly contribute substantially to filling the gap in our knowledge of the history of the villa between 300 and 1300.
As the Directors of the Program, Prof. de Angelis and I plan to keep excavating in the same areas during the upcoming season (2015) at Hadrian’s Villa, in order to test and verify the hypotheses mentioned above. At the same time, we plan to widen the scope of the project by launching new areas of investigation, addressing both the villa’s material culture (statues and their documentation, brickstamps and building techniques) and non-invasive fieldwork (geophysical prospections) in other areas of the villa.
—Marco Maiuro, Co-director of APAHA