Giacobbe Giusti, Tabularium, ancient Rome

Giacobbe Giusti, Tabularium, ancient Rome


Giacobbe Giusti, Tabularium, ancient Rome

Giacobbe Giusti, Tabularium, ancient Rome


Tabularium 3D.jpg
Location Regione VIII Forum Romanum
Built in 78 BC
Built by/for M. Aemilius Lepidus and Q. Lutatius Catulus
Type of structure Basilica
Related Roman Forum
Tabularium is located in Rome


The Tabularium, behind the corner columns of the Temple of Vespasian and Titus.

The Tabularium was the official records office of ancient Rome, and also housed the offices of many city officials. Situated within the Roman Forum,[1] it was on the front slope of the Capitoline Hill, below the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, to the southeast of the Arx and Tarpeian Rock.[citation needed]

Within the building were the remains of the temple of Veiovis. In front of it were the Temples of Vespasian & Concord, as well as the Rostra and the rest of the forum. Presently the Tabularium is only accessible from within the Capitoline Museum, although it still provides a panoramic view over the Forum.[citation needed]

The Construction of the Tabularium was ordered around 78 BC by the dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla.[2] The building was completed by Quintus Lutatius Catulus, consul in 78 BC. This was part of a public works programme for the redevelopment of the Capitoline Hill, which had been damaged by a fire in in 83 BC.[3] The construction by Catulus is not motioned in the ancient literature. It is known through an inscription (CIL 1).[4]


The building itself had a facade of peperinoand travertine blocks. The interior vaults are of concrete.[citation needed]

Its great corridor, 67 m (220 ft) long, raised 15 m (49 ft) above the forum on a massive substructure, is still partly preserved. This corridor was lighted through a series of arches divided by semi-detached columns of the Doric order, the earliest example of this class of decoration, which is in the Theatre of Marcellus, the Colosseum, and all the great amphitheatres throughout the Roman empire constituted the decorative treatment of the wall surface and gave scale to the structure.[1]

The facade faced the back of the Temple of Concord in the Forum and consisted of three levels. The first story was a large and tall fortified wall with a single door and only small windows near the top to light the interior, forum level rooms. The second story featured a Doric arcade (partially preserved) and the third, no longer extant story, had a high Corinthian order colonnade.[citation needed] The upper floors of this structure was much changed in the 13th century, when the Palazzo dei Senatori was built.[1]

Some scholars, such as Filippo Coarelli, in the past, have suggested that the ‘Tabularium’ itself is unattested to in any literary sources. Furthermore, its function and purpose has been the subject of debate. The unity of the main structure does however suggest that the building was at least initially conceived to serve a singular purpose. To illustrate the complexity of the building, Filippo Coarelli has stated that a particular annex of the Aerarium Saturni was constructed specifically to house metal ingots and minted Republican coins. Recent evidence, in the form of six military diplomas dated from AD 85 to 88, confirms the existence of the ‘Tabularium’ in its renowned form. Coarelli has suggested that the ‘Tabularium’ can be dated precisely to 78 BC, although construction began many years prior and almost certainly prior to the death of Sulla. The building itself is in many ways intrinsically tied to the politics of Sulla, especially in regard to the temple substructure. The structure was considered such an enduring masterpiece of late Republican architecture that a funerary inscription for the architect commissioned by Lutatius Catalus was created and preserved in a courtyard of the hospital of the Fatebenefatelli, on Tiber island. The inscription reads as follows: ‘Lucius Cornelius, son of Lucius, of the Voturia tribe, chief engineer to Q. Lucius Catulus when he was consul, architect (to him) when he was censor’.[5]

Modern scholarship

Nicholas Purcell’s article Atrium Libertatis is aligned with the view of contemporary historians regarding the epigraphic evidence once present within the Tabularium. In his detailed analysis of the now-lost inscriptions Purcell makes clear that these inscriptions have compounded our misunderstanding of one of the largest, oldest and best-preserved buildings of the Roman Republic.[6]

The generic terms ‘probatio’ of a ‘substructio’ and a ‘tabularium’ were recorded by an early Renaissance antiquarian in that order. It is arguable that the identification of the so-called ‘Tabularium’ is incorrect. Purcell draws our attention to the lack of archaeological and epigraphic knowledge on ‘tabularia’ suggesting that these inscriptions were not intended to be grandiose in scope, nor did they name the building[7] which further reflects the prevailing credulity of the structure in question. Purcell’s reference to the archaeological research conducted by Theodor Mommsenaligns with his argument and likely indicates that historians must set aside such misunderstandings reflected in the literary sources. As Mommsen stated quite rightly that ‘tabularium’ is a term that may be applied any structure associated with administration.[8] Therefore, it is likely that the ‘Tabularium’ in question, despite the sheer size fronting the Capitoline Hill, was one of many structures built for the purpose of holding records.

Purcell’s assessment of the epigraphic evidence once found within the structure in question reaffirms the following view long held by academics that the ‘Tabularium’ is insufficiently documented and the product of scholarly inertia. This unfortunately has further compounded our understanding of the Capitoline substructure, and as a result, we are no closer to identifying the extent of its function, let alone its name.

Tucci’s article radically changed the way historians and archaeologists alike would view the ‘Tabularium’, questioning the very identification of the structure and its function. Exploring the history of archaeology at the site, Tucci makes clear that the identification of the so-called ‘Tabularium’ is hinged solely upon an inscription long lost (CIL VI 1314, 31597), with no ancient evidence from the period directly correlating to the site. As such, it is arguable that the word tabularium itself has been incorrectly in modern scholarship with reference to the building. Instead, Tucci argues that the substructure, which provides the foundations for the entire building, was itself likely a tabularium, being one of many offices housed within Roman buildings and temples for the purpose of holding records. As such, Tucci disputes the idea that a sole Tabularium or mass-archive of Rome ever existed. In alignment with this argument, Tucci subsequently seeks to identify the structure in occupation of the space above the Tabularium substructure. In examining the architectural link between the rooms of the substructure and that of a south-western building, Tucci, in accordance with historians before him, could identify the remnants of an extension of the Aerarium, or treasury, which was housed in the Temple of Saturn. Subsequently, in correlation with the accounts of Livy (7.28.4-6), Ovid (Fasti 6.183-85) and Cicero (De domo 38.101) Tucci draws attention to a clear association between the location of this mint, and that of the Temple of Juno Moneta. With reference to the archaeological research of Giannelli and his identification of concrete remains in the Aracoeli Garden in the Forum, Tucci argues for the foundations of Giannelli’s supposed Temple of Juno Moneto to date back to the 4th century B.C, thus indicating a relocation. Tucci’s argument thus is fulfilled as he concludes that in circa 78 B.C., the Temple of Juno Moneto was rededicated atop the substructure of the Tabularium, in a complex which included the extended Aerarium, and that this relocation likely occurred after the fire of 83 B.C. As a result, Tucci called into question both the identification and function of the so-called ‘Tabularium’, in his attempt to overturn a theory that had been taken for historical fact since the 15th century A.D.[9][10]

Fillipo Coarelli (2010) uses the arguments and findings of Nicholas Purcell (1993), Henner von Heserb (1995) and Pier Luigi Tucci (2005) to propose an alternative understanding of the function of the Tabularium. These works are characterised by their ability to provide alternative understandings when questioning the function of the “Tabularium.” It is important to note that prior these studies, research and scholarship of the “Tabularium” was primarily saturated by the Richard Delbruck’s Hellenistiche Bauten in Latium, published in 1875. It was Delbruck’s findings that rendered the conclusion that the Tabularium served as a house of public records. However, writing in 2010, Coarelli has had access to a wider range of both archaeological and written sources that probe a deeper inquest in to traditional discourses that cloud our conception of the function and meaning of the “Tabularium.”

Within Substructio et tabularium, Coarelli fundamentally purports that “the so-called tabularium is not the archive of the Roman state, known by this name’ and the rejection of this long held but incorrect hypothesis permits us to study the monument afresh.” He goes on to state that “[the tabularium] represents in fact the foundations (substructio) of a large temple of the Sullan period, restored by Domitian after the fire of 80AD.” Throughout his work, Coarelli uses the findings of Purcell, von Hesberg and Tucci as a roadmap that forms the basis of his argument. He begins with Purcell’s epigraphic discoveries that connotes the classification of the Tabularium as a records building: “Populi tabularia ubi publici continentur” (Populi Tabularia where the public documents are housed.). Moving to von Hesberg, Coarelli highlights the study of the dimensions of architectural pieces from the Tabularium that suggest “the second floor of the building must have been significantly wider than the arched lower floor”, proposing that there was a temple structure within the Tabularium (Fig. X.). Finally, Coarelli’s inclusion of Tucci’s findings builds upon von Hesberg’s assertion, serving as a sounding board for Coarelli’s initial thesis; that the “Tabularium” served as the basement of a proposed temple.

Coarelli tracks the structural changes that took place within the Tabularium, and ultimately concludes that it is challenging for historians to ascertain the absolute meaning of this structure due to the “complexity of [it].” He points out that only until recently have we been able to understand that the Tabularium actually existed due to the emergence of from six military diplomas, with dates ranging from AD85-88. Further, these diplomas refer the location of the Tabularium publicum to the Capitolium. Here, the location is extremely significant. Coarelli states that the tabularium “must have been situated in the immediate environs of the area Capitolina, where the military diplomas were displayed until AD90.” Thus, it is clear that the tabularium was a multifaceted building that pertained to the political and religious culture of the Roman empire.

Thus, by expanding upon the arguments of Purcell, von Hesberg and Tucci, Coarelli positions himself to further execute his overarching thesis with increased clarity. Fundamentally, by galvanising the “deep-rooted biases” that obfuscate the understanding of the Tabularium, Coarelli is able to suggest that the Tabularium is rather a multifaceted structure that pertained to the political and religious centre of the Roman world.


  1. Jump up to:a b c Chisholm 1911, p. 341.
  2. Jump up^ (eds.), Olivier Hekster/Richard Fowler (2005). Imaginary Kings royal images in the Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome. [Stuttgart]: Steiner. ISBN 3515087656.
  3. Jump up^ Musei Capitoloni, Rome.[1]
  4. Jump up^ Oxford Classical dictionary, 2012
  5. Jump up^ Filippo Coarelli, Substructio et Tabularium, Papers of the British School at Rome, Vol. 78 (2010), p. 123.
  6. Jump up^ Nicholas Purcell, Atrium Libertatis, Papers of the British School at Rome, Vol. 61 (1993), p. 135
  7. Jump up^ Nicholas Purcell, Atrium Libertatis, Papers of the British School at Rome, Vol. 61 (1993), p. 140
  8. Jump up^ Atrium Libertatis
  9. Jump up^ Tucci, P. L., 2005. ‘Where High Moneta leads her steps sublime. The “Tabularium” and the Temple of Juno Moneta’, Journal of Roman Archaeology vol. 18, 6-33
  10. Jump up^ G. Giannelli, 1978. “La Leggenda dei ‘Mirabilia’ e l’antica topografia dell’Arce Capitolina”, StRom vol. 26, 60-71, as cited in P. L. Tucci (2005)




Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Relief showing aquilla from the Arch of Claudius.

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Detail of the central breastplate relief on the statue of Augustus of Prima Porta shows the return of the Aquilae lost to the Parthians. The return of the eagles was one of Augustus’s notable diplomatic achievements

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Augusto di Prima Porta, il re Fraate IV dei Parti restituisce le insegne (l’aquila) dei Romani sottratte durante la sconfitta di Carre forse a Tiberio, affiancato da una lupa

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Aquila esposta al Museo archeologico nazionale d’Abruzzo a Chieti. L’aquila è stata rinvenuta nell’area archeologica di Amiternum, in occasione di scavi eseguiti nel corso degli anni settanta del Novecento. Fusione piena e ritoccata con bulino semicircolare.

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

“The Reliefs of Trajan’s Column by Conrad Cichorius. Plate number LXXII: Arrival of Roman troops (Scene XCVIII); The emperor sacrifices by the Danube (Scene XCIX); Trajan receives foreign embassies” {Aquilla at the upper left}

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

A modern reconstruction of an aquila

An aquila, or eagle, was a prominent symbol used in ancient Rome, especially as the standard of a Roman legion. A legionary known as an aquilifer, or eagle-bearer, carried this standard. Each legion carried one eagle.

The eagle was extremely important to the Roman military, beyond merely being a symbol of a legion. A lost standard was considered an extremely grave occurrence, and the Roman military often went to great lengths to both protect a standard and to recover it if lost; for example, see the aftermath of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, where the Romans spent decades attempting to recover the lost standards of three legions.

No legionary eagles are known to have survived. However, a number of other Roman eagles, either symbolizing imperial rule or used as funeral emblems, have been discovered.[1]


The signa militaria were the Roman military ensignsor standards. The most ancient standard employed by the Romans is said to have been a handful (manipulus) of straw fixed to the top of a spear or pole. Hence the company of soldiers belonging to it was called a maniple. The bundle of hay or fern was soon succeeded by the figures of animals, of which Pliny the Elder (H.N. x.16) enumerates five: the eagle, the wolf, the ox with the man’s head, the horse, and the boar.[2][3] In the second consulship of Gaius Marius (104 BC) the four quadrupeds were laid aside as standards, the eagle (Aquila) alone being retained. It was made of silver, or bronze, with outstretched wings, but was probably of a relatively small size, since a standard-bearer (signifer) under Julius Caesar is said in circumstances of danger to have wrenched the eagle from its staff and concealed it in the folds of his girdle.[4]

Under the later emperors the eagle was carried, as it had been for many centuries, with the legion, a legion being on that account sometimes called aquila (Hirt. Bell. Hisp. 30). Each cohort had for its own ensign the serpent or dragon, which was woven on a square piece of cloth textilis anguis,[5] elevated on a gilt staff, to which a cross-bar was adapted for the purpose,[6] and carried by the draconarius.[7]

Another figure used in the standards was a ball (orb), supposed to have been emblematic of the dominion of Rome over the world;[8] and for the same reason a bronze figure of Victoria was sometimes fixed at the top of the staff, as we see it sculptured, together with small statues of Mars, on the Column of Trajan and the Arch of Constantine.[9] Under the eagle or other emblem was often placed a head of the reigning emperor, which was to the army an object of worship or veneration.[10]The name of the emperor, or of him who was acknowledged as emperor, was sometimes inscribed in the same situation.[11] The pole used to carry the eagle had at its lower extremity an iron point (cuspis) to fix it in the ground, and to enable the aquilifer in case of need to repel an attack.[12]

The minor divisions of a cohort, called centuries, also each had an ensign, inscribed with the number both of the cohort and of the century. This, together with the diversities of the crests worn by the centurions, enabled each soldier to take his place with ease.[13]

In the Arch of Constantine at Rome there are four sculptured panels near the top which exhibit a great number of standards and illustrate some of the forms here described. The first panel represents Trajan giving a king to the Parthians: seven standards are held by the soldiers. The second, containing five standards, represents the performance of the sacrifice called suovetaurilia.[14]

When Constantine embraced Christianity, a figure or emblem of Christ, woven in gold upon purple cloth, was substituted for the head of the emperor. This richly ornamented standard was called labarum.[15] The labarum is still used today by the Orthodox Church in the Sunday service. The entry procession of the chalice whose contents will soon become holy communion is modeled after the procession of the standards of the Roman army.

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Eagle and weapons from an Augustan-era funerary monument, probably that of Messalla (PradoMadrid)

Even after the adoption of Christianity as the Roman Empire’s religion, the Aquila eagle continued to be used as a symbol. During the reign of Eastern Roman EmperorIsaac I Komnenos, the single-headed eagle was modified to double-headed to symbolise the Empire’s dominance over East and West.

Since the movements of a body of troops and of every portion of it were regulated by the standards, all the evolutions, acts, and incidents of the Roman army were expressed by phrases derived from this circumstance. Thus signa inferre meant to advance,[16]referre to retreat, and convertere to face about; efferre, or castris vellere, to march out of the camp;[17]ad signa convenire, to re-assemble.[18] Notwithstanding some obscurity in the use of terms, it appears that, whilst the standard of the legion was properly called aquila, those of the cohorts were in a special sense of the term called signa, their bearers being signiferi, and that those of the manipuli or smaller divisions of the cohort were denominated vexilla, their bearers being vexillarii. Also, those who fought in the first ranks of the legion, in front of the standards of the legion and cohorts, were called antesignani.[19]

In military stratagems it was sometimes necessary to conceal the standards.[20]Although the Romans commonly considered it a point of honour to preserve their standards, in some cases of extreme danger the leader himself threw them among the ranks of the enemy in order to divert their attention or to animate his own soldiers.[21] A wounded or dying standard-bearer delivered it, if possible, into the hands of his general,[22] from whom he had received it signis acceptis.[23]

Lost Aquilae

Arch of Constantine

South attic

Arch of Constantine showing carvings of Aquila

Ancient imagery

Detail of the central breastplate relief on the statue of Augustus of Prima Porta shows the return of the Aquilae lost to the Parthians. The return of the eagles was one of Augustus’s notable diplomatic achievements.
Relief showing aquilla from the Arch of Claudius.








  1. Jump up^ Roman eagle found by archaeologists in City of London
  2. Jump up^ The ox is sometimes confusingly described as a Minotaur. See Festus, s.v. Minotaur.
  3. Jump up^ Theodore Mommsen, History of Rome, vol. 3, p. 459.
  4. Jump up^ Flor. iv.12
  5. Jump up^ Sidon. Apoll. Carm. v.409
  6. Jump up^ Themist. Orat. i. p1, xviii. p267, ed. Dindorf; Claudian, iv. Cons. Honor. 546; vi. Cons. Honor. 566
  7. Jump up^ Veget. de Re Mil. ii.13; compare Tac. Ann. i.18
  8. Jump up^ Isid. Orig. xviii.3
  9. Jump up^ see Causeus de Sig. in Graevii Thes. vol. x p2529
  10. Jump up^ Josephus, B.J. ii.9 §2; Suet. Tiber. 48, Calig. 14; Tac. Ann. i.3941iv.62
  11. Jump up^ Sueton. Vespas. 6
  12. Jump up^ Suet. July 62
  13. Jump up^ Veget. l.c.
  14. Jump up^ Bartoli, Arc. Triumph.
  15. Jump up^ Prudentius cont. Symm. i.466, 488; Niceph. H.E. vii.37
  16. Jump up^ Caesar, B. G. i.25, ii.25
  17. Jump up^ Virg. Georg. i.108
  18. Jump up^ Caesar, B. G. vi.37
  19. Jump up^ Caesar, B. C. i.43, 44, 56
  20. Jump up^ Caesar, B. G. vii.45
  21. Jump up^ Florus, i.11
  22. Jump up^ Florus, iv.4
  23. Jump up^ Tac. Ann. i.42
  24. Jump up^ Res Gestae Divi Augusti, 29
  25. Jump up^ Res Gestae Divi Augusti, 29
  26. Jump up^ Cassius Dio 47, 35–36
  27. Jump up^ Cassius Dio, 54.11
  28. Jump up^ Velleius Paterculus, Vell. II – 97
  29. Jump up^ Tacitus Annales 1, 60
  30. Jump up^ Tacitus, ann. 2,25
  31. Jump up^ Cassius Dio 60,8,7
  32. Jump up^ TaciteDe vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae41.
  33. Jump up^ Dion CassiusHistoire romainelivre LXVIII, 9, 3.
  34. Jump up^ Peter Schäfer (2003) The Bar Kokhba War Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Second Jewish Revolt Against Rome Mohr Siebeck ISBN 3-16-148076-7 p 118
  35. Jump up^ Cassius Dio LXXI.2
  36. Jump up^ Duncan B Campbell, The fate of the Ninth: The curious disappearance of Legio VIIII Hispana“, Ancient Warfare

External links

Giacobbe Giusti, Cave canem

Giacobbe Giusti, Cave canem


Giacobbe Giusti, Cave canem

‘Cave canem’ (beware of the dog) mosaic.. From Pompeii, Casa di Orfeo, VI.14.20

Beware of the dog

Giacobbe Giusti, Cave canem

Mosaic at Pompeii
Giacobbe Giusti, Cave canem
2nd century Cave canem mosaic at the entrance to the House of the Tragic PoetPompeii

Notice at the Glasgow Necropolis

Beware of the dog (also rendered as Beware of dog) is a warning sign indicating that a dangerous dog is within. Such signs may be placed to deter burglary even if there is no dog.[1][2]


Warning signs of this sort have been found in ancient Roman buildings such as the House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii, which contains a mosaic with the caption cave canem. Some suppose that these warnings may sometimes have been intended to prevent visitors from stepping upon small, delicate dogs of the Italian Greyhoundtype.[3]


Under English law, placing such a sign does not relieve the owner of responsibility for any harm which may come to people attacked by the dog.[4][5]


  1. Jump up^ R Wright, RH Logie (1988), “How young house burglars choose targets”, The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice
  2. Jump up^ C Wilkinson (1998), “Deconstructing the fort”, Journal of Australian Studies
  3. Jump up^ Cheryl S. Smith (2004), The Rosetta bone, pp. 10–11, ISBN 978-0-7645-4421-7
  4. Jump up^ James Paterson (1877), Commentaries on the Liberty of the Subject and the Laws of England, p. 271
  5. Jump up^ Charles G. AddisonHorace Gray Wood (1876), A treatise on the law of torts, p. 285

External links

Giacobbe Giusti, Römische Villa bei Lullingstone

Giacobbe Giusti, Römische Villa bei Lullingstone

Giacobbe Giusti, Römische Villa bei Lullingstone


Giacobbe Giusti, Römische Villa bei Lullingstone

 Giacobbe Giusti, Römische Villa bei Lullingstone

Die heutigen Reste der Villa

Bei Lullingstone(östlich von London in Kent) konnten die Reste einer reich ausgestatteten römischen Villaausgegraben werden. Vor allem die Fragmente von Wandmalereienmit christlichen Motiven erregten überregionales Interesse.


Die Villa von Lullingstone liegt in einem kleinen Tal, nahe bei dem Fluss Darent. Sie liegt an einem Abhang und ist besonders gut erhalten, da im Laufe der Jahrhunderte Erde vom oberen Teil des Abhanges nach unten rutschte und dabei auch die Ruinen der Villa bedeckte und damit auch schützte.

Geschichte des Baues

Plan der Villa um 125 n. Chr.

Reste einer Wandmalerei: Nymphen

Modell der Villa

Plan der Villa um 400 n. Chr.

Erste Siedlungsreste stammen aus der Zeit vor der römischen Eroberung Britanniens. Es fanden sich Scherben und Münzen, die um 1 bis 43 n. Chr. datieren. Gebäudereste sind aus dieser Zeit bisher nicht festgestellt worden.

Ein erster Bau aus Stein wurde hier um 100 n. Chr. errichtet. Dieser Bau ist architektonisch nur schwer zu fassen, da er durch spätere Umbauten verunklärt ist. Es war aber sicherlich eine einfache Portikusvilla mit Eckrisaliten. Das Gebäude bestand im unteren Teil aus vermauerten Feuersteinen. Der Aufbau war vielleicht ein Fachwerkbau. Zu diesem Bau gehörte auch ein Keller, der aus zwei Räumen bestand, der bis zum Ende der Villa in Betrieb blieb. Hinter der Villa (im Westen) wurde ein Küchengebäude errichtet.

Das Gebäude wurde zwischen 150 und 180 erweitert. Es wurden auf der Südseite ein Bad hinzugefügt. Der Keller hatte in der ersten Bauphase zwei Zugänge, wobei in der zweiten Bauphase eine dieser Türen zugemauert wurde. Die nun entstandene Nische erhielt eine Bemalung mit der Darstellung von drei Nymphen. Auch die restlichen Wände wurden bemalt, doch ist davon nur wenig erhalten. Die Umgestaltung deutet an, dass der Keller in einen Kultraum umgestaltet wurde. Der damalige Besitzer scheint recht wohlhabend gewesen zu sein, jedenfalls war er Eigentümer von zwei marmornen Büsten, eine Seltenheit in der britannischen Provinz. Sie fanden sich bei den Ausgrabungen im Keller. Im zweiten Jahrhundert wurde auch ein runder Bau etwas nördlich der Villa errichtet. Die Funktion ist unbekannt, doch wird vermutet, dass es sich um eine kleine Kapelle handelte.

Im Dritten Jahrhundert erlebte das ganze römische Reich eine Zeit wirtschaftlichen Niederganges. Die Villa scheint vernachlässigt worden zu sein, doch wurde sie nicht aufgegeben, wie noch die Ausgräber vermuteten. Münzen und Scherben deuten eine Siedlungskontinuität an. Am Beginn des vierten Jahrhunderts wurde ein Mausoleumwestlich der Villa erbaut. Es bestand aus einem zentralen Raum, um den sich ein Umgang befand. Der Bau ähnelt somit einem römischen-gallischen Umgangstempel. In einer Grube im zentralen Raum lagen zwei Bleisärge, in denen sich die Skelette von einem Mann und einer Frau befanden. Es fanden sich zahlreiche Beigaben, darunter ein Bronzegefäß, vier Glasflaschen, zwei Messer und zwei Löffel. Bemerkenswert ist ein Spielbrett mit 30 Spielsteinen aus Glas, die auf einem der Särge lagen.

Neben der Villa wurde in etwa zur gleichen Zeit ein Getreidespeicher errichtet. Er war 24,4 × 10,7 m groß und gehört damit zu den größten in Britannien. Der Bau hatte einen erhöhten Fußboden, damit Luft darunter zirkulieren konnte.

Um 350 erhielt das Speisezimmer der Villa eine Apsis und wurde mit einem Mosaik ausgestattet. Um 360/370 scheinen die Besitzer zum Christentum konvertiert zu sein. Ein Raum wurde zu einer christlichen Kapelle umgestaltet und erhielt Wandmalereien mit christlichen Motiven. Diese zeigen den Villenbesitzer und seine Familie in Bethaltung, sowie das christliche Chi-Rho. Kurz nach 400 brannte die Villa nieder und wurde nie wieder aufgebaut.

Die Wandmalereien

Giacobbe Giusti, Römische Villa bei Lullingstone

Wandmalerei auf der Westwand mit christlichen Adoranten

Die Villa hat ihre herausragende Bedeutung vor allem durch den Fund der Wandmalereien des vierten Jahrhunderts. Vereinzelte Malereifragmente stammen schon aus dem zweiten Jahrhundert. Im Bad fand sich ein Fragment, dass einen Fisch zeigt. Das Fragment fand sich im Frigidarium, das demnach vielleicht mit einer Seelandschaft, wie sie in Bädern beliebt waren, dekoriert gewesen. Andere noch an der Wand haftende Fragmente zeigen eine einfache Felderdekoration.[1] Aus dem zweiten Jahrhundert stammt auch die Nische im Keller mit der Darstellung von drei Wassernymphen.[2]

Die Malereien des vierten Jahrhunderts fanden sich im Keller verstürzt und schmückten einst zwei Räume einer Hauskapelle, deren Dekoration in groben Zügen rekonstruiert werden kann. Die best erhaltene Wand ist die Westwand. Der Sockel stellt wohl eine Marmorimitation dar. Darüber finden sich sechs Säulen zwischen denen wiederum einzelne Figuren auf weißen Grund stehen. Die Säulen sind von Farbbändern gerahmt. Die Figuren scheinen zu schweben und haben ihre Arme ausgebreitet. Nur eine Figur hebt ihre rechte Hand zum Gruß. Die zweite Figur von links ist die best erhaltene und ist darüber hinaus durch einen Vorhang, der hinter ihr erhalten ist, hervorgehoben. Bis auf die vorletzte Figur scheinen alle Männer darzustellen.

Die Ostwand ist schlechter erhalten und deren Rekonstruktion bereitet Schwierigkeiten. Die Sockelzone wird wiederum von Marmorimitationen eingenommen. Darüber befindet sich ein Feld mit sechs Säulen. In der Mitte befindet sich ein Kreis mit dem christlichen Chi-Rho. Zwischen den Säulen scheinen Personen dargestellt zu sein, die auf das Zentralfeld zugehen. Die Rekonstruktion der dritten Zone bleibt schließlich reine Spekulation, hier könnten sich eventuell Säulen aber auch Ornamentbänder befunden haben. Beide Dekorationselemente fanden sich, doch können keiner Wand mit Sicherheit zugeordnet werden.

Die Nordwand zeigt die Sockelzone mit Marmorimitationen und darüber zahlreiche Säulen, in deren Mitte sich offensichtlich eine figürliche Szene befand. Im Oberfeld gab es die Darstellung einer Landschaft mit Gebäuden.

In der Südwand befand sich die Tür des Raumes. Rechts von ihr befand sich über der Sockelzone wiederum ein Feld mit einer von Säulen gerahmten Mittelszene. Im Oberfeld befand sich ein Chi-Rho.

Der Vorraum war einfacher gestaltet, nur an einer Wand befand sich ein Chi-Ro, in einem Kreis und von einem geometrischen Muster gerahmt.

Die Malereien sind von besonderer Bedeutung, da es nur wenige Zeugnisse christlicher Wandmalerei aus dem vierten Jahrhundert gibt. In Britannien sind sie bisher einmalig. Der Stil ist einfach bis unbeholfen. Es gibt kaum Andeutungen von Licht und Schatten oder Perspektive.

Das Mosaik

Giacobbe Giusti, Römische Villa bei Lullingstone

Speiseraum mit Mosaik

Das Mosaik im Speisesaal der Villa zeigt zwei Szenen. In der eigentlichen Apsis ist die Entführung der Europa durch Jupiter als Stier dargestellt. Europa, halbnackt, sitzt auf dem Stier. Die Szene wird von zwei Eroten flankiert. Der hintere zieht am Schwanz des Stieres und versucht offensichtlich die Entführung zu verhindern. Über der Szene befindet sich eine lateinische Inschrift, die übersetzt lautet:

Wenn die eifersüchtige Juno den schwimmenden Stier gesehen hätte, dann wäre sie mit größerer Gerechtigkeit auf ihrer Seite wiederhergestellt in den Häusern des Aeolus

Dieser Spruch ist eine Anspielung aus das erste Buch der Aeneis, in dem Juno, die Gattin des Jupiter, den Windgott Aeolus überredet, einen Sturm zu entfachen, um Aenas auf seiner Reise nach Italien zu besiegen. Diese Szene belegt deutlich das hohe Bildungsniveau des Villeninhabers.

Die zweite Szene des Mosaik zeigt Bellerophon wie er auf Pegasusreitet und die Chimära mit einem Speer tötet. Dieses Bild wird von vier runden Medaillons gerahmt in denen sich wiederum Darstellungen in Büstenform der vier Jahreszeiten befinden.


Giacobbe Giusti, Römische Villa bei Lullingstone



In der Villa fand sich eine Reihe bemerkenswerter Objekte. An erster Stelle sind zwei Marmorbüsten zu nennen, die sich im Keller fanden. Sie können stilistisch in das zweite Jahrhundert datiert werden und sind Arbeiten aus dem östlichen Mittelmeerraum. In der früheren Forschung wurde oftmals angenommen, dass es sich hier um Vater und Sohn handelt, die nacheinander Besitzer der Villa waren. Die besser erhaltene zeigt einen bärtigen Mann, in einem militärischen Gewand mit einer runden Fiebel.[3] Eine neuere Theorie besagt jedoch, dass hier der spätere Kaiser Pertinax und dessen Vater Publius Helvius Successusdargestellt sind.[4] Pertinax war Statthalter von Britannien, bevor er zum Kaiser erhoben wurde. Demnach ist die Lullingstonevilla der Landsitz des Statthalters gewesen.

Ein weiterer Fund ist eine Gemme, die geflügelte Victoria mit einem Schild und vor einem Brustpanzer, der Teil einer Trophäe ist, zeigt. Die Gemme gehört zu den besten, die jemals in Britannien gefunden wurden. Sie besteht aus Karneol. Es wurde argumentiert, dass es sich um das Amstsiegel von Pertinax handelte als er als Statthalter in Britannien amtierte. [5]


Die Villa wurde 1939 entdeckt, obwohl es schon seit dem späten achtzehnten Jahrhundert Vermutungen gab, dass es hier Reste eines römischen Gebäudes gibt. Ausgrabungen fanden seit 1949 statt und dauerten 12 Jahre. Die Villa ist heute für Besucher hergerichtet.


  1. Hochspringen Liversidge, in: Meates: The Roman villa at Lullingstone, S. 5, Tafel 1, fig. 1 auf S. 6
  2. Hochspringen Liversidge, in: Meates: The Roman villa at Lullingstone, Tafeln IV–V
  3. Hochspringen Neal: Lullingstone, Roman Villa., 22
  4. Hochspringen T. Ganschow/M. Steinhart: The Roman portraits from the villa of Lullingstone: Pertinax and his father, P Helvius Successus.In: Otium: Festschrift für Volker Michael Strocka. Remshalden 2005, S. 47–53.
  5. Hochspringen Martin Henig: The Victory-Gem from Lullingstone Roman Villa, in: Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 160 (2007), 1-7


  • Geoffrey Wells Meates: The Roman villa at Lullingstone, Kent. Vol. 1, The site. Kent Archaeological Society, London 1979, ISBN 0-85033-341-5.
  • Geoffrey Wells Meates: The Roman villa at Lullingstone, Kent. Vol. 2, The wall paintings and finds. Kent Archaeological Society, London 1987, ISBN 0-906746-09-4.
  • David S. Neal: Lullingstone, Roman Villa. London 1998, ISBN 1-85074-356-8.


 Römische Villa bei Lullingstone – Sammlung von Bildern, Videos und Audiodateien

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Vestibolo Di Polifemo room


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali)
Villa romana di Piazza Armerina - Sicilia - tigre.JPG

mosaic from the Big Game Hunt
Villa Romana del Casale is located in Italy

Villa Romana del Casale
Shown within Italy
Location Piazza ArmerinaProvince of EnnaSicilyItaly
Type Roman villa
Area 8.92 ha (22.0 acres)
Founded First quarter of the 4th century AD
Abandoned 12th century AD
Periods Late Antiquity to High Middle Ages
Cultures Roman
Site notes
Archaeologists Paolo Orsi, Giuseppe Cultrera, Gino Vinicio GentiliAndrea Carandini
Ownership Public
Official name Villa Romana del Casale
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii
Designated 1997 (21st session)
Reference no. 832
Region Europe and North America

The Villa Romana del Casale (SicilianVilla Rumana dû Casali) is a large and elaborate Roman villa or palace located about 3 km from the town of Piazza ArmerinaSicily. Excavations have revealed one of the richest, largest and varied collections of Roman mosaics in the world,[1] for which the site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[2] The villa and artwork contained within date to the early 4th century AD.

The over 3000 sq. metres of mosaic and opus sectilepavement are also almost unique in their excellent state of preservation due to the landslide and floods which covered the remains.

Although less well-known, an extraordinary collection of frescoes covered not only the interior rooms but also the exterior walls.


Plan of the villa

The visible remains of the villa were constructed in the first quarter of the 4th century AD on the remains of an older villa rustica, which are the pars dominica, or master’s residence, of a large latifundium or agricultural estate.[3]

Three successive construction phases have been identified; the first phase involved the quadrangular peristyle and the facing rooms. The private bath complex was then added on a north-west axis. In a third phase the villa took on a public character: the baths were given a new entrance and a large latrine, and a grand monumental entrance was built, off-axis to the peristyle but aligned with the new baths entrance and in a formal arrangement with the elliptical (or ovoid) arcade and the grand tri-apsidal hall. This hall was used for entertainment and relaxation for special guests and replaced the two state halls of the peristyle (the “hall of the small hunt” and the “diaeta of Orpheus”). The basilica was expanded and decorated with beautiful and exotic marbles.

The complex remained inhabited for at least 150 years and a village grew around it, named Platia(derived from the word palatium (palace).


In the 5th and 6th centuries, the villa was fortified for defensive purposes by thickening the perimeter walls and by closing of the arcades of the aqueduct to the baths. The villa was damaged and perhaps destroyed during the domination of the Vandalsand the Visigoths. The outbuildings remained in use, at least in part, during the Byzantine and Arab periods. The settlement was destroyed in 1160-1 during the reign of William I. The site was abandoned in the 12th century AD after a landslide covered the villa. Survivors moved to the current location of Piazza Armerina.

The villa was almost entirely forgotten, although some of the tallest parts of the remains were always above ground. The area was cultivated for crops. Early in the 19th century, pieces of mosaics and some columns were found. The first official archaeological excavations were carried out later in that century.[4]

The first professional excavations were made by Paolo Orsi in 1929, followed by the work of Giuseppe Cultrera in 1935-39. Major excavations took place in the period 1950-60 led by Gino Vinicio Gentili, after which a cover was built over the mosaics. In the 1970s Andrea Carandini carried out excavations at the site and work has continued to the present day by the University of Rome, La Sapienza. In 2004 the large mediaeval settlement of the 10-12th centuries was found. Since then further sumptuous rooms of the villa have also been revealed.

The latifundium and the villa

Ambulatory of the Big Game Hunt

In late antiquity the Romans partitioned most of the Sicilian hinterland into huge agricultural estates called “latifundia”. The villa’s latifundium is cited in the Itinerarium Antonini and is known as the Filosofiana. The villa’s pars rustica, or agricultural section, has been discovered to the west of the entrance area, as shown by a room divided in three parts by pillars for storage of agricultural products. The size of the villa and the amount and quality of its artwork indicate that it was the pars dominica of such a latifundium.

The owner’s identity has long been discussed and many different hypotheses have been formulated. The owner was probably a member of senatorial class if not of the imperial family itself, i.e. the absolute upper class of the Roman Empire. The most probable owner is of the Constantinian period, Lucius Aradius Valerius Proculus, governor of Sicily between 327 and 331 and consul in 340. The games he organised in Rome in 320 as praetor were so glorious that their fame lasted for a long time, and perhaps the depictions on some mosaics (the “Great Hunt” in corridor 25 and the “Games of the circus” in the baths) recall this event.

The villa was so large as to include multiple reception and state rooms which reflects the need to satisfy a number of different functions and to include spaces for the management of the estate as well as of the villa. This transformed the villa into a city in miniature. The villa would likely have been the permanent or semi-permanent residence of the owner; it would have been where the owner, in his role as patron, received his local clients.

The villa was a single-story building, centred on the peristyle, around which almost all the main public and private rooms were organised. The monumental entrance is via the atrium from the west. Thermal baths are located to the northwest; service rooms and probably guest rooms to the north; private apartments and a huge basilica to the east; and rooms of unknown purpose to the south. Somewhat detached, and appearing almost as an afterthought, is the separate area to the south containing the elliptical peristyle, service rooms, and a huge triclinium (formal dining room).

Palaestra – Two apses room

The overall plan of the villa was dictated by several factors: older constructions on the site, the slight slope on which it was built, and the path of the sun and prevailing winds. The higher ground to the east is occupied by the Great Basilica, the private apartments, and the Corridor of the Great Hunt; the middle ground by the Peristyle, guest rooms, the entrance area, the Elliptical Peristyle, and the triclinium; while the lower ground to the west is dedicated to the thermal baths.

The whole complex is somewhat unusual, as it is organised along three major axes; the primary axis is the (slightly bent) line that passes from the atrium, tablinum, peristyle and the great basilica (coinciding with the path visitors would follow). The thermal baths and the elliptical peristyle with the triclinium are centred on separate axes.

Little is known about the earlier villa, but it appears to have been a large country residence probably built around the beginning of the second century.

Recent excavations have found a second bath complex close to the storerooms at the entrance dating to the late antique phase and showing rare wall mosaics belonging to a basin or a fountain.

Monumental Entrance

Polygonal court mosaic

Access to the villa was through a three-arched gateway, decorated with fountains and military paintings, and closely resembling a triumphal arch. This gave onto the horseshoe courtyard surrounded by marble columns with Ionic capitals with a square fountain at the centre. On the west side of the courtyard was a latrine, and also separate access was given to the baths and to the rest of the villa.

The peristyle garden and the southern rooms

Diaeta of Orpheus

The elegant peristyle garden is decorated with a three-basin fountain, in the centre of which decoration featuring fish swimming among the waves can be seen. Rooms 33 and 34 were dedicated to service functions and have mosaics with geometric motifs while room 34 also features a mosaic installed above the original floor showing female athletic competitions giving it the name “the room of the palestriti”.

Also on the south side is the so-called diaeta of Orpheus, an apsidal room adorned with a remarkable mosaic featuring Orpheus playing the lyre beneath a tree and taming every kind of animal with his music. This room was probably used as a summer dining room or, considering its floor subject, for the enjoyment of music.

Basilica with marble panels

The Basilica

This grand apsidal hall was an audience hall and the most formal room in the villa, accessed through a grand monumental entrance divided by two columns of pink Egyptian granite. An exceptionally elaborate polychrome opus sectile floor consisting of marbles coming from all over the Mediterranean lies at the entrance and is the richest decoration in the villa; it also covered the walls. This type of marble, rather than mosaic, constituted the material of greatest prestige in the Roman world.

The excavations showed that the apse vault was decorated with glass mosaics.

Opus sectile floor – Basilica

Triclinium and elliptical peristyle

On the south side of the villa is an elliptical peristyle, the Xystus, with a semi-circular nymphaeum on the west side. In the open courtyard were fountains spurting from the mosaic pavement.

The Xystus forms a spectacular introduction to the luxurious tri-apsidal triclinium, the great hall that opens to the east. This contains a magnificent set of mosaics dominated in the centre by the enemies encountered by Hercules during his twelve labours. In the north apse is his apotheosis crowned by Jupiter, while to the east are the Giants with serpentine limbs and in their death throes, having been struck by Hercules’ arrows. In the south apse is the myth of Lycurgus who tried to kill the nymph Ambrosia, but was encircled by grapevines and attacked by a crowd of Maenads.


Bikini girls

The “bikini girls” mosaic, showing girls playing sports. To the left, a girl in a toga offers a crown and victor’s palmfrond to “the winner”

In 1959-60, Gentili excavated a mosaic on the floor of the room dubbed the “Chamber of the Ten Maidens” (Sala delle Dieci Ragazze in Italian). Informally called “the bikini girls”, the maidens appear in a mosaic artwork which scholars named Coronation of the Winner. The young women perform sports including weight-lifting, discus throwing, running and ball-games. A girl in a toga offers a crown and victor’s palm frond to “the winner”.[5]

The Little Hunt

Another well-preserved mosaic shows a hunt, with hunters using dogs and capturing a variety of game.

The Little Hunt mosaic




  • Petra C. Baum-vom Felde, Die geometrischen Mosaiken der Villa bei Piazza Armerina, Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-8300-0940-2
  • Brigit Carnabuci: Sizilien – Kunstreiseführer, DuMont Buchverlag, Köln 1998, ISBN 3-7701-4385-X
  • Luciano Catullo and Gail Mitchell, 2000. The Ancient Roman Villa of Casale at Piazza Armerina: Past and Present
  • R. J. A. Wilson: Piazza Armerina, Granada Verlag: London 1983, ISBN 0-246-11396-0.
  • A. Carandini – A. Ricci – M. de Vos, Filosofiana, The villa of Piazza Armerina. The image of a Roman aristocrat at the time of Constantine, Palermo: 1982.
  • S. Settis, “Per l’interpretazione di Piazza Armerina”, in Mélanges de l’École française de Rome, Antiquité 87, 1975, 2, pp. 873–994.

Further reading

Giacobbe Giusti, Legio X Gemina

Giacobbe Giusti, Legio X Gemina


Giacobbe Giusti, Legio X Gemina

Marque en forme de sandale de la LEG(io) X G(emina) P(ia) F(idelis) trouvée à la fortification d’Ala Nova.

Giacobbe Giusti, Legio X Gemina

Schildbemalung der comitatensischen Legio Decima Gemina im frühen 5. Jahrhundert.

Roman Empire 125.png

Map of the Roman empire in AD 125, under emperor Hadrian, showing the LEGIO X GEMINA, stationed on the river Danube at Vindobona (Vienna, Austria), in Pannonia Superior province, from AD 103 until the 5th century
Active Before 58 BC to sometime in the 5th century
Country Roman Republic and Roman Empire
Type Roman legion (Marian)
Role Infantry assault (some cavalry support)
Size Varied over unit lifetime. Approx. 3,500 fighting men + support at the time of creation. Expanded and given the cognomen Gemina in 31 BC.
Garrison/HQ Hispania Tarraconensis (31 BC – c. 71)
Nijmegen (71 – 103)
Vienna (103-5th century)
Nickname(s) Equestris, “Of the knights” under Caesar
Gemina, “The twin” (since 31 BC)
Pia Fidelis, “faithful and loyal” (since 89)
DomitianaAntoninianaGordianaDecianaFlorianaCariniana (short-lived)
Pia VI Fidelis VI (after 260)
Mascot(s) Bull
Engagements Gallic Wars (58-51 BC)
Battle against the Nervians (57 BC)
Battle of Gergovia (52 BC)
Battle of Ilerda (49 BC)
Battle of Dyrrhachium (48 BC)
Battle of Pharsalus (48 BC)
Battle of Munda (45 BC)
Battle of Philippi (42 BC)
Battle of Actium (31 BC)
Batavian rebellion (70)
Second Battle of Tapae (101)
Bar Kokhba’s revolt (132-135)
Marcomannic Wars in Moravia(168-180)
Naissus (268)
Vexillationes of the 10th participated in many other campaigns.
Julius Caesar,
Mark Antony
Giacobbe Giusti, Legio X Gemina

Nero, Sestertius with countermark “X” of Legio X Gemina.
Obv: Laureate bust right.
Rev: Nero riding horse right, holding spear, DECVRSIO in exergue; S C across fields.

Legio decima Gemina (“The Twins’ Tenth Legion”), was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. It was one of the four legions used by Julius Caesar in 58 BC, for his invasion of Gaul. There are still records of the X Gemina in Vienna in the beginning of the 5th century. The legion symbol was a bull. Early on in its history, the legion was called Equestris(mounted), because Caesar once used the legionaries as cavalry.

In Republican Service

Gallic Wars

In the Gallic Wars, X Equestrisplayed an important role on Caesar’s military success and for this reason is sometimes said to be his favorite. In Caesar’s campaigns they were present in the battle of the Sabis, the invasions of Britain, and the battle of Gergovia. They remained faithful to Caesar in the civil war against Pompey, being present in the battles of Pharsalus (49 BC) and Munda (45 BC). In 45 BC Caesar disbanded the legion, giving the veterans farmlands near Narbonne in Gaul and in Hispania.


The legion was reconstituted in 42 BC and fought for Augustus (then Octavian), Lepidus and Mark Antonyin the Battle of Philippi against the murderers of Caesar. After this, they followed Mark Antony in his campaign against Parthia and were defeated with him at Actium. Augustus then took control of the legion and settled the veterans in Patras. The legion rebelled and lost its cognomen Equestris as punishment. Replacements were added from other legions, and the Tenth was rebaptized Gemina.

In Imperial Service

From about 30 BC the newly formed X Gemina was relocated to Petavonium in Hispania Tarraconensis, where Augustus was preparing a campaign against the Cantabrians. Their veterans were among the first inhabitants of modern Zaragoza and Emerita Augusta, modern Mérida.

The legion was sent to Carnuntum in Pannonia in about 63 AD (or a bit earlier) after legio XV Apollinaris left and went to the east.[1] During the brief reign of Galba (68-69), it was transferred back to Hispania.

Under the Flavian dynasty

Position of Roman legions in 80. X Gemina was in Nijmegen (mark 4), with XXII Primigenia.

However, its stay in Hispania was to be very brief. In 70, after the Batavian rebellion was suppressed by the new emperor Vespasian, X Gemina was sent to Batavia in Germania Inferior to police the lands and prevent new revolts. From 71 to 103, the legion was stationed at the base built by II Adiutrix at Oppidum Batavorum, the present day Dutch city of Nijmegen.

As part of the army of Germania Inferior, X Gemina fought against the rebellion of the governor of Germania SuperiorL. Antonius Saturninus, against Emperor Domitian. For this reason, the Tenth — as well as the other legions of the army, MinerviaVI Victrix, and XXII Primigenia — received the title Pia Fidelis Domitiana, “faithful and loyal to Domitian”, with the reference to the Emperor dropped at his death and subsequent damnatio memoriae.

2nd century

During the Trajan’s first campaign in Dacia, (101-102) the legion participated at the Second Battle of Tapae, fighting against the army of the Dacians led by King Decebalus.

In 103, it was moved to Aquincumand later to Vindobona (modern Vienna), in Pannonia Superior, which would be the legion’s camp until the 5th century.

Vexillationes of the X Gemina fought against the rebellion of Simon bar Kokhba in 132-135, in Iudaea, others participated in the Parthian campaign of Lucius Verus in 162. Another major campaign was the one fought against the QuadiMarcomanni and the Lombards, in Moravia, (Dyje-Svratka Vale) under the command of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (168-180). A garrison of Legio X GPF was found in the Czech Republic in Roman fortress in Moravia (Mušov)

Gemina supported its governor, Septimius Severus, in his bid for purple, and many men of the legion went to Rome to become part of the Praetorian Guard of the new Emperor.

3rd century

During the 3rd century, the legion fought for several emperors, who awarded the legion with titles showing the fidelity of the legion and the favour gained by the Emperor himself. The titles Antoniniana(awarded by Caracalla or Elagabalus), Gordiana (by Gordian III), Deciana (by Decius), Floriana(by Florianus), and Cariniana (by Carinus) were short-lived, however, and dropped after the death of the Emperor. For its support of Emperor Gallienus against Postumus, the Gemina was awarded the title Pia VI Fidelis VI, “six times faithful, six times loyal”.

4th century

At the time in which Notitia Dignitatum was written (late 4th century), the first detachment of Decima Gemina was under the command of the Magister Militumper Orientem, and was a comitatensis unit.[2] The other detachment was still in Vindobona, under the command of the DuxPannoniae primae et Norici ripensis.

Epigraphic evidence

  • – Lucius Lavius Luci filius Aemilia tri(bu) Tuscus Felicitis Iulia miles legionis X GeminaeVictricis- Porto (Portus), Portugal. AE 1953, 268.
  • – sacrum Caius Valerius Carusmiles legionis X Geminaevotum solvit libens merito. Lugo(Lucus Augusti), Spain. Hisp. Epi. 19118.
  • – Caius Iulius Sergia Hispali (f) Victor miles legionis X Gemina(centuria Fabi Celtiberi annorum XLII aerum / XVIII hic (…). Pontevedra, Spain. CIL II 2545.
  • – Iovi Augusto Ultori sacrum Lucius Valerius Paternus miles legionis X Geminae optio centuria Censoris exs (…). Pontevedra, Spain. AE 1908, 147.
  • – Gaius Iulius Primus miles veteranus legionis X Geminae / hic situs estsit tibi terra levis. Jaen, Andalucía, Spain. CIL II2/5, 5.
  • – Dis Manibus Gaio Urbanio Firmino militi legionis X / Iulius Ingenuus miles legionis. Jaen, Andalucía, Spain. CIL II 1691
  • – Capito Sunnae filius decurio equitum alae geminae legionis X Rustica Galli filia. Sevilla(Hispalis), Spain.CIL II2/5, 1136.
  • – Publius Talius Quinti filius Papiria (tribu) legionis X hic situs est sit tibi terra (…). Badajoz (Pax Iulia), Spain. Hisp. Epi. 23031.
  • – Marcus Aurelius Marci filius Galeria (tribu) Abbicus miles legionis X decimaeBadajoz(Pax Iulia), Spain. AE 1980, 562.
  • – Lucius Octavius Luci fillius Pupinia (tribu) Baeterensis Magius annorum XXXVII / aerorum XIX tubicen / miles legionis X Geminae(…). Astorga(Asturica), Spain. AE 1928, 163.
  • – Caius Pelgus Luci filius Scaptia (tribu) Clemensveteranus legionis) X Geminaevixit annos LVI hic situs est/ Caius Pelgus (…). Astorga(Asturica), Spain. CIL II 5076 = CIL II 5662 = AE 1904, 160.
  • – Caius Coelius Cai filius Papiria (tribu) Valens Narniense miles legionis X Geminae centuria Castellani annorum XXXV aerorum XIII (…). Astorga(Asturica), Spain. IRPLe 79.
  • – Marcus Persius Marci filius Pollia (tribu) Blaesus domo Hasta miles legionis X Geminaecenturia (…). Astorga (Asturica), Spain. AE 1904, 160.
  • – Lucius Herennius Luci filius) Galeria (tribu) Callicus domo Ugia miles legionis X Geminae / centuria Licini Clementis annorum / (…). Zamora, Spain. CIL II 5076 = CIL II 5662 = AE 1904, 180.
  • – Publius Cosconius Publi fillius / Galeria Arsensis / miles legionis X Geminae centuria Etrili annorum XXXI aerorum XI / hic situs (…). Zamora, Spain. AE 1928, 179.
  • – Marcus Cornelius Marci filius Aniensi Foro Iulii miles legionis X Geminae centuriae Terebrae annorum XXII aerorum (…). Zamora, Spain. Hisp. Epi. 15846.
  • – Rufus miles legionis X Geminae fecit. Zamora, Spain. AE 1997, 867.
  • – Marcus Volumnius Cai filius Aniensi / Cremona miles legionis X hic situs est. Zamora, Spain. CIL II 2631.
  • – Dis Manibus Tito Cassio Flavino centurioni legionis X Geminae Chrysampelus patrono optimo pecunia sua fecit. Tarragona (Tarraco), Spain. CIL II 4152.
  • – Severus Marci filius (…) miles legionis X Geminae centuriae (…). Burgos, Spain. Hisp. epi. 16472.

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa of the Papyri


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa of the Papyri

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa of the Papyri


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa of the Papyri


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa of the Papyri

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa of the Papyri

The Villa of the Papyri (Italian: Villa dei Papiri, also known as Villa dei Pisoni), is named after its unique library of papyri (or scrolls), but is also one of the most luxurious houses in all of Herculaneum and in the Roman world.[1] Its luxury is shown by its exquisite architecture and by the very large number of outstanding works of art discovered, including frescoes, bronzes and marble sculpture[2] which constitute the largest collection of Greek and Roman sculptures ever discovered in a single context.[3]

It is located in the current commune of Ercolano, southern Italy. It was situated on the ancient coastline below the volcano Vesuvius with nothing to obstruct the view of the sea. It was perhaps owned by Julius Caesar‘s father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus.[4]

Plan of Herculaneum and the location of the Villa

In AD 79, the eruption of Vesuvius covered all of Herculaneum with some 30 m of volcanic ash. Herculaneum was first excavated in the years between 1750 and 1765 by Karl Weber by means of underground tunnels. The villa’s name derives from the discovery of its library, the only surviving library from the Graeco-Roman world that exists in its entirety.[5] It contained over 1,800 papyrus scrolls, now carbonised by the heat of the eruption, the “Herculaneum papyri“.

Most of the villa is still underground, but parts have been cleared of volcanic deposits. Many of the finds are displayed in the Naples National Archaeological Museum.

The Getty Villa is a reproduction of the Villa of the Papyri.


Ground Plan showing location of tunnels(brown)

Drunken Satyr, villa dei papiri

Aeschines, villa dei papiri, museo archeologico, Napoli

Sited a few hundred metres from the nearest house in Herculaneum, the villa’s front stretched for more than 250 m along the coastline of the Gulf of Naples. It was surrounded by a garden closed off by porticoes, but with an ample stretch of gardens, vineyards and woods down to a small harbour.

It has recently been ascertained that the height of the main floor in antiquity was no less than 16 metres above sea level, and the villa had four architectural levels underneath the main floor, arranged in terrasses overlooking the sea.[6]

The villa’s layout is faithful to, but enlarges upon, the architectural scheme of suburban villas in the country around Pompeii. The atrium functioned as an entrance hall and a means of communication with the various parts of the house. The entrance opened with a columned portico on the sea side.

The first peristyle had 10 columns on each side and a swimming pool in the centre. In this enclosure were found the bronze herma of Doryphorus, a replica of Polykleitos‘ athlete, and the herma of an Amazon made by Apollonios son of Archias of Athens.[7] The large second peristyle could be reached by passing through a large tablinum in which, under a propylaeum, was the archaic statue of Athena Promachos. A collection of bronze busts were in the interior of the tablinum. These included the head of Scipio Africanus.[1]

Dancers, da villa dei papiri, peristilio quadrato

The living and reception quarters were grouped around the porticoes and terraces, giving occupants ample sunlight and a view of the countryside and sea. In the living quarters, bath installations were brought to light, and the library of rolled and carbonised papyri placed inside wooden capsae, some of them on ordinary wooden shelves and around the walls and some on the two sides of a set of shelves in the middle of the room.[1]

The grounds included a large area of covered and uncovered gardens for walks in the shade or in the warmth of the sun. The gardens included a gallery of busts, hermae and small marble and bronze statues. These were laid out between columns amid the open part of the garden and on the edges of the large swimming bath.[1]

Resting Hermes

Ptolemy Apion

fresco, Villa dei Papiri

Works of Art

The luxury of the villa is evidenced not only by the many works of art, but especially by the large number of rare bronze statues found there, all masterpieces. The villa housed a collection of at least 80 sculptures of magnificent quality,[8] many now conserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum.[1] Among them is the bronze Seated Hermes, found at the villa in 1758. Around the bowl of the atrium impluvium were 11 bronze fountain statues depicting Satyrs pouring water from a pitcher and Amorini pouring water from the mouth of a dolphin. Other statues and busts were found in the corners around the atrium walls.[1]

Five statues of life-sized bronze dancing women wearing the Doric peplos sculpted in different positions and with inlaid eyes are adapted Roman copies of originals from the fifth century BC. They are also hydrophorai drawing water from a fountain.

Epicureanism and the library

The owner of the house, perhaps Calpurnius Piso, established a library of a mainly philosophical character. It is believed that the library might have been collected and selected by Piso’s family friend and client, the Epicurean Philodemus of Gàdara – although his conclusion is not certain[4][9] Followers of Epicurus studied the teachings of this moral and natural philosopher. This philosophy taught that man is mortal, that the cosmos is the result of accident, that there is no providential god, and that the criteria of a good life are pleasure and temperance. Philodemus’ connections with Piso brought him an opportunity to influence the young students of Greek literature and philosophy who gathered around him at Herculaneum and Naples. Much of his work was discovered in about a thousand papyrus rolls in the philosophical library recovered at Herculaneum. Although his prose work is detailed in the strung-out, non-periodic style typical of Hellenistic Greek prose before the revival of the Attic style after Cicero, Philodemus surpassed the average literary standard to which most epicureans aspired. Philodemus succeeded in influencing the most learned and distinguished Romans of his age. None of his prose work was known until the rolls of papyri were discovered among the ruins of the Villa of the Papyri.[4]

Papyrus recovered from Villa of the Papyri.[1]

At the time of the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, the valuable library was packed in cases ready to be moved to safety when it was overtaken by pyroclastic flow; the eruption eventually deposited some 20–25 m of volcanic ash over the site, charring the scrolls but preserving them— the only surviving library of Antiquity— as the ash hardened to form tuff.[1]


The Bourbon excavations were halted in 1765 due to complaints from the residents living above. The exact location of the villa was then lost for two centuries.[10] In the 1980s work on re-discovering the villa began by studying 18th century documentation on entrances to the tunnels and in 1986 the breakthrough was made through an ancient well. The backfill from some of the tunnels was cleared to allow re-exploration of the villa when it was found that the parts of the villa that survived the Bourbon robbers were still remarkable in quantity and quality.

Excavation to expose part of the villa was done in the 1990s and revealed two previously undiscovered lower floors to the villa[11] with frescoes in situ. These were found along the southwest-facing terrace of about 4 metres height. The first row of rooms lying below the arcade was eveidenced by a series of rectangular openings along the façade.

Limited excavations recommenced at the site in 2007 to preserve the remains when beautifully carved parts of wood and ivory furniture were discovered. Since then limited public access became available.

As of 2012, there are still 2,800 m² left to be excavated of the villa. The remainder of the site has not been excavated because the Italian government is preferring conservation to excavation, and protecting what has already been uncovered.[12] David Woodley Packard, who has funded conservation work at Herculaneum through his Packard Humanities Institute, has said that he is likely to be able to fund excavation of the Villa of the Papyri when the authorities agree to it; but no work will be permitted on the site until the completion of a feasibility report, which has been in preparation for some years. The first part of the report emerged in 2008 but included no timetable or cost projections, since the decision for further excavation is a political one.[13] Politics involve excavation under inhabited areas in addition to unspecified but reported[14] references to mafia involvement.

Using multi-spectral imaging, a technique developed in the early 1990s, it is possible to read the burned papyri. With multi-spectral imaging, many pictures of the illegible papyri are taken using different filters in the infrared or in the ultraviolet range, finely tuned to capture certain wavelengths of light. Thus, the optimum spectral portion can be found for distinguishing ink from paper on the blackened papyrus surface.

Non-destructive CT scans will, it is hoped, provide breakthroughs in reading the fragile unopened scrolls without destroying them in the process. Encouraging results along this line of research have been obtained, which use Phase-contrast X-ray imaging. [15] [16] [17] [18] According to authors, “this pioneering research opens up new prospects not only for the many papyri still unopened, but also for others that have not yet been discovered, perhaps including a second library of Latin papyri at a lower, as yet unexcavated level of the Villa.”[19]

J. Paul Getty Museum

Bronze bust of Scipio Africanus, mid 1st century BC, found in the Villa of the Papyri

The original “Getty Villa“, part of the J. Paul Getty Museum complex at Pacific Palisades, California is a free replication of the Villa of the Papyri, as it was published in Le Antichità di Ercolano. This museum building was constructed in the early 1970s by the architectural firm of Langdon and Wilson. Architectural consultant Norman Neuerburg and Getty’s curator of antiquities Jiří Frel worked closely with J. Paul Getty to develop the interior and exterior details. Since the Villa of the Papyri was buried by the eruption and much of it remains unexcavated, Neuerburg based many of the villa’s architectural and landscaping details on elements from other ancient Roman houses in the towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae.[20]

With the move of the Museum to the Getty Center, the “Getty Villa” as it is now called, was renovated; it reopened on January 28, 2006.

In modern literature

Several scenes in Robert Harris‘ bestselling novel Pompeii are set in the Villa of the Papyri, just before the eruption engulfed it. The villa is mentioned as belonging to Roman aristocrat Pedius Cascus and his wife Rectina. (Pliny the Younger mentions Rectina, whom he calls the wife of Tascius, in Letter 16 of book VI of his Letters.) At the start of the eruption Rectina prepares to have the library evacuated and sends urgent word to her old friend, Pliny the Elder, who commands the Roman Navy at Misenum on the other side of the Bay of Naples. Pliny immediately sets out in a warship, and gets in sight of the villa, but the eruption prevents him from landing and taking off Rectina and her library — which is thus left for modern archaeologists to find.

Sculpture from the Villa