Giacobbe Giusti, Pyrgi Tablets

Giacobbe Giusti, Pyrgi Tablets

Le tre lamine d’oro del VI secolo a.C., con la stessa iscrizione riportata in etrusco. in fenicio e in punico(RomaMuseo di Villa Giulia). Queste lamine sono state rinvenute a Pyrgi (oggi Santa Severa, in provincia di Roma), porto antico di Cere.

 Giacobbe Giusti, Pyrgi Tablets

The tablets

The Pyrgi Tablets, found in a 1964 excavation of a sanctuary of ancient Pyrgi on the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy(today the town of Santa Severa), are three golden leaves that record a dedication made around 500 BC by Thefarie Velianas, king of Caere, to the Phoenician goddess ʻAshtaret. Pyrgi was the port of the southern Etruscantown of Caere. Two of the tablets are inscribed in the Etruscan language, the third in Phoenician.[1]

These writings are important in providing both a bilingual text that allows researchers to use knowledge of Phoenician to interpret Etruscan, and evidence of Phoenician or Punic influence in the Western Mediterranean. They may relate to Polybius‘s report (Hist. 3,22) of an ancient and almost unintelligible treaty between the Romans and the Carthaginians, which he dated to the consulships of L. Iunius Brutus and L. Tarquinius Collatinus (509 BC).

The tablets are now held at the National Etruscan MuseumVilla Giulia, Rome.

Phoenician text

l-rbt l-ʻštrt,
To lady Ashtarot,
ʼšr qdš ʼz, ʼš pʻl, w-ʼš ytn tbryʼ wlnš mlk ʻl kyšryʼ. ( kyšry= KAYSERI)
This is the holy place, which was made, and which was given by Tiberius Velianas who reigns over the Caerites.
b-yrḥ zbḥ šmš, b-mtnʼ b-bt, wbn tw.
During the month of the sacrifice to the Sun, as a gift in the temple, he built an aedicula.
k-ʻštrt ʼrš b-dy l-mlky šnt šlš, b-yrḥ krr, b-ym qbr ʼlm
For Ashtarot raised him with Her hand to reign for three years from the month of Churvar, from the day of the burial of the divinity [onward].
w-šnt lmʼš ʼlm b-bty šnt km h kkb m ʼl.
And the years of the statue of the divinity in the temple [shall be] as many years as the stars above.[2]

The Phoenician text has long been known to be in a Semitic, more specifically Canaanite language (very closely related to Hebrew, and also relatively close to Aramaic and Ugaritic); hence there was no need for it to be “deciphered.” And while the inscription can certainly be read, certain passages are philologically uncertain on account of perceived complications of syntax and the vocabulary employed in the inscription, and as such they have become the source of debate among both Semiticists and Classicists.[3]

Supplementary to the Pyrgi Tablets are inscriptions on vessels found in the sanctuary at Pyrgi:

unial: div) patera, or plate V TLE 877
unial:(div) patera, or plate V REE 40 n54

  • ]starte/s/  ?] cve[r (]starte/ / in REE) (div?)
fragment vasis, or vessel IV REE 56 n31
mi :”s’uris : cava’th’as,(div)patera, or plate V REE 64 n36.
]xcava’th’as 2]a emini[(div) Greek kylix, V REE 56 n24[4]

Phoenician vocabulary

ʼlm, divinity [Semitic *ʼil- “god”]
ʼrš, to raise
ʼš, which, who, that [rel.pron]
ʼšr, place
ʼz, this [ ha-dha? ]
ʻl, over, above [Semitic *ʻal-]
ʻštrt, Astarte [Semitic *ʻaṯtar-]
b-, in, at, with, on [Semitic *bi-]
bt, house, temple [Semitic *bayt-]
kkb, star [Semitic *kabkab-] [hakkawkabīm/hakkawkabūm = the-stars]
k-, for, since [Semitic *ki-]
km, like, as [ka-ma]
krr, Churvar [calendar month] [cf. Etruscan Χurvar]
kyšryʼ, Caerites [a people]
l-, to, for [Semitic *la-]
lmʼš, statue
mlk, to rule, to reign [Semitic *mlk]
mtnʼ, gift [Semitic *ntn ‘to give’]
pʻl, to make, to do [Semitic *pʻl]
qbr, burial
qdš, holy
rbt, lady [cf. Akkadian rābu “grand, large”] [rabbu, female: rabbatu ]
šlš, three [Semitic *ṯalāṯ-]
šmš, sun [Semitic *šamš-[5]]
šnt, year [šanot “years” – from: šanāt]
tw, aedicula [taw]
w-, and [Semitic *wa-]
bn, to build [ bny ] [wayyiben = [and] he built]
yd, hand
ym, day [Semitic *yawm-]
yrḥ, month [Semitic *warḥu-] [Canaanite: yarhu]
ytn, to give [Semitic *[y]-ntn] [ya-ntin[u]] he-gives / hebrew: yittēn
zbḥ, sacrifice

Etruscan text

First plate:

ita tmia icac he
ramašva vatieχe
unial astres θemia
sa meχ θuta Θefa
riei velianas sal
cluvenias turu
ce munis tas θuvas
tameresca ilacve
tul erase nac ci avi
l χurvar, tešiameit
ale ilacve alšase
nac atranes zilac
al, sel eita la acnašv
ers itanim heram
ve avil eniaca pulum χva.
This temple and these statues are dedicated to Uni-Astre, built by the clanspeople.
Tiberius Velianas the pleasing aedicula has given.
munistas θuvas tameresca ilacve tulerase.
That burial of his own by these priests with idols was encircled.
nac ci avil χurvar, tešiameitale, ilacve alšase.
For three years [in the month of] Churvar, with Her burnt offerings, with idols [it was] buried.
nac atranes zilacal, seleitala acnašvers.
During the reign of the chief, in Her hand [he] would be brought forth (ie: Uni-Astre gave him authority to rule).
itanim heram ve, avile niaca pulum χva.
And with these Hermes idols, the year(s) shall endure as the stars.
Second plate:

nac θe farie vel
iiunas θ amuce
cleva etu nal masan tiur, unias
šelace v
acal tmial a
vil χ val amuce pulum χva snuiaφ.


When Tiberius Velianas had built the statue of the sanctuary [in] the month of Masan, Uni was pleased.
vacal tmial avilχval amuce pulumχva snuiaφ.
The votives of the temple yearly have been as numerous as the stars.

Etruscan vocabulary

*acna(s), to bring forth (⟨acnaš-ver-s⟩ ‘[he] would be brought forth’)

[perhaps -⟨u⟩, passive + -⟨er⟩-, purposive, common in the LLZ, had combined to form a passive optative in -⟨ver⟩- ‘would be’]
Note ⟨huśur maχ acnanas, arce.⟩ “Having brought forth (ie: given birth to) five children, [she] raised [them]” (TLE 887)
*alš, to bury (⟨alš-as-e⟩ ‘buried’)
*am, to be (⟨am-uc-e⟩ ‘has been, had been’)

⟨an zilaθ amce mecl Rasnal.⟩ “He had been a chief of the Etruscan people.” (ET Ta 7.59)
astre, Phoenician goddess of fertility, associated with Uni (⟨astre-s⟩ ‘of Astre’) [Phoenician ⟨’štrt⟩ ← *’aṯtarṯ]
*atran, reign, rulership
avil, year (⟨avilχva-l⟩ ‘of the years, yearly’)
ca, this (⟨ca⟩ ‘this’, ⟨ica-c⟩ ‘and this’)
ci, three
*cluvenia, aedicula (⟨cluvenia-s⟩ ‘of the aedicula’)
xurvar, month [Phoenician ⟨krr⟩ *kurar]
*en, to last, endure (⟨en-iac-a⟩ ‘shall endure’)

⟨śacnicleri cilθl, śpureri, meθlumeric, enaś.⟩ “By way of these sacred objects of the sanctuary, by the city and by the people, [it] endures” (LLZ, col 9, lines 12-13)
*etan, sanctuary (⟨etan-al⟩ ‘of the sanctuary’)
*heram(aš), Hermes idol (⟨heramv-e⟩ ‘with the Hermes idols’, ⟨heramašva⟩ ‘Hermes idols’)
*ila, idol (*ilacva ‘idols’, ⟨ilacv-e⟩ ‘with idols’)
meχ, people
muni, burial, plot of land (⟨muni-s⟩ ‘of the burial’)
nac, when, during, while
*pulum, star (⟨pulum-χva⟩ ‘stars’, ⟨pulun-za⟩ ‘little star’)

⟨fulumχva⟩ (Cippus perusinus, lateral, lines 29-30)
⟨…pulunza ipal sacnina tinia tei aθemeiś caś…⟩ “…the little star for which the sacred Tinia of the sky…” (CIE 6310)
sal, pleasing
*sel, hand (⟨sel-ei⟩ ‘with the hand’)
*snuia, many (⟨snuia-φ⟩ “as many”)

⟨śnuiu-φ⟩ “as many” (LLZ, col 6, lines 1,2,4)
*šel, to please (⟨šel-ac-e⟩ ‘has pleased’) [cf. ⟨sal⟩]
ta, that (⟨ita⟩ ‘that’, ⟨⟩ ‘and with that’, ⟨ta-s⟩ ‘of that’, ⟨tala⟩ ‘her’, ⟨tal-e⟩ ‘with her’)
tešiam, burnt offerings (⟨tešiam-ei⟩ ‘with burnt offerings’)

⟨Śucic firin tesim.⟩ “And incense was burned as a burnt offering” (LLZ, col 7, lines 9-10)
tmia, temple (⟨tmia-l⟩ ‘of the temple’)
*tuler, to encircle (⟨tuler-as-e⟩ ‘encircled’) [cf. ⟨tul⟩ ‘border, boundary’]
tur, to give (⟨tur-uc-e⟩ ‘has given’)
*θem, to build (⟨θem-iasa⟩ ‘built’, ⟨θam-uc-e⟩ ‘has built’)
θefarieiTiberius [Roman male name]
θuta, clan, nation (compare Celto-Germanic cognates *Tuatha, *Theod, *Diot). Compare Icelandic: þjóð (nom), þjóð (acc), þjóðu (dat), þjóðar (gen).
θuva, oneself, (⟨θuva-s⟩ ‘one’s own’) [cf. ⟨θu⟩ ‘one, single’]

⟨θuker akil tuś thuveś.⟩ “Thuker completed his own tomb.” (TLE 672)
uni, Etruscan mother goddess of fertility (⟨uni-al⟩ ‘of Uni’) [cf. Latin Iūno]
vacal, votive offering

⟨celi suθ vacl θesnin⟩ “Upon the earth of the tomb a votive offering was dedicated.” (LLZ, col 5, lines 15-16)
*vat, to dedicate (⟨vat-ieχ-e⟩ ‘to be dedicated’)
velianas, Velianas [family name].
zilaχ, chief (⟨zilac-al⟩ ‘of the chief’)

⟨svalasi, zilaχnuce.⟩ “[While] living, [he] had been chief.” (TLE 173)
zilaχnce avil xi.⟩ “[He] had been chief eleven years.” (REE 40, n75)


  1. Jump up^ The specific dialect has been called “Mediterranean Phoenician” by Philip C. Schmitz, “The Phoenician Text from the Etruscan Sanctuary at Pyrgi” Journal of the American Oriental Society 115.4 (October – December 1995), pp. 559-575. Full bibliography of Pyrgi and the tablets
  2. Jump up^ Transcription from Hildegard Temporini, Joseph Vogt, Wolfgang Haase. 1972. Aufsteig und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, vol. 2, part 25. P.201. Also, along with the original Phoenician letters, in Haarmann, Harald. 1996. Early Civilization and Literacy in Europe: An Inquiry into Cultural Continuity in the Mediterranean World. P.355
  3. Jump up^ For the most recent analysis of the inscription and summary of the various scholarly interpretations, see Schmitz, P. 1995 “The Phoenician Text from the Etruscan Sanctuary at Pyrgi.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 15:559-575.
  4. Jump up^ Source for the Pyrgi inscriptions :“Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  5. Jump up^ The Patterning of Root Morphemes in Semitic. 1990. In: On language: selected writings of Joseph H. Greenberg. Ed. Keith M. Denning and Suzanne Kemmer. P.379



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, Boy with Thorn

Giacobbe Giusti, Boy with Thorn



Giacobbe Giusti, Boy with Thorn


Giacobbe Giusti, Boy with Thorn

Boy with Thorn, also called Fedele (Fedelino) or Spinario, is a Greco-Roman Hellenistic bronze sculpture of a boy withdrawing a thorn from the sole of his foot, now in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome. A Roman marble of this subject from the Medici collections is in a corridor of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.[1]

The sculpture was one of the very few Roman bronzes that was never lost to sight. It was standing outside the Lateran Palace when the Navarrese rabbi Benjamin of Tudela saw it in the 1160s and identified it as Absalom, who “was without blemish from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”[2] It was noted in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century by the English visitor, Magister Gregorius, who noted in his De mirabilibus urbis Romae that it was ridiculously thought to be Priapus.[3] It must have been one of the sculptures transferred to the Palazzo dei Conservatori by Pope Sixtus IV in the 1470s, though it is not recorded there until 1499-1500.[4] It was celebrated in the Early Renaissance, one of the first Roman sculptures to be copied: there are bronze reductions by Severo da Ravenna and Jacopo Buonaccolsi, called “L’Antico” for his refined classicizing figures: he made a copy for Isabella d’Este about 1501[5] and followed it with an untraced pendant that perhaps reversed the pose. For a fountain of 1500 in Messina, Antonello Gagini made a full-size variant, probably the bronze that is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Giacobbe Giusti, Boy with Thorn

Roman marble copy, c.25 – 50 CE, of the lost 3rd century BCE Hellenistic original of the type. From the Castellani collection, Rome, said to have been found on the Esquiline. The base of the statue is worked as a rock, with a hole for a fountain pipe. (British Museum)[6]

In the sixteenth century, bronze copies made suitably magnificent ambassadorial gifts to the King of France and the King of Spain. For Francis I of France, the gift came from Ippolito II d’Este;[7] his copy was overseen by Giovanni Fancelli and Jacopo Sansovino, and the transaction effected by the courtly Benvenuto Cellini. For Philip II of Spain, the copy was the gift of Cardinal Giovanni Ricci. In the following century Charles I of England had a bronze Spinario by Hubert Le Sueur (Haskell and Penny 1981: 308).

Small bronze reductions were suitable for the less grand. A Still Life with ‘Spinario’ by Pieter Claesz, 1628, is conserved at the Rijksmuseum; among the riches emblemmatic of the good life, it displays a small plaster model of the Spinario.[8]

There were also marble copies. The Medici Roman marble seems to have been among the collection of antiquities assembled in the gardens at San Marco, Florence, which were the resort of the humanists in the circle of Lorenzo il Magnifico, who opened his collection to young artists to study from. The young Michelangelo profited from this early exposure to antique sculpture, and it has been discussed whether Masaccio was influenced by the Medici Spinario or by the bronze he saw in Rome in the 1420s,[9] but Filippo Brunelleschi more certainly adapted the Spinario’s pose for the left-hand attendant in the bronze competition panel, The Sacrifice of Isaac 1401, his trial piece for the doors of the Baptistery of San Giovanni.[10]

The formerly popular title Il Fedele (“The faithful boy”) derived from an anecdote invented to give this intimate and naturalistic study a more heroic civic setting: the faithful messenger, a mere shepherd boy, had delivered his message to the Roman Senate first, only then stopping to remove a painful thorn from his foot: the Roman Senate commemorated the event. Such a story was already deflated in Paolo Alessandro Maffei’s Raccolta di statue antiche e moderni… of 1704[11]

Taking into account Hellenistic marble variants that have been discovered, of which the best is the Thorn-Puller from the Castellani collection now in the British Museum,[12] none of which have the archaizing qualities of the bronze Spinario, recent scholarship has tended to credit this as a Roman bronze of the first century CE, with a head adapted from an archaic prototype.[13]

Giacobbe Giusti, Column of Marcus Aurelius

Giacobbe Giusti, Column of Marcus Aurelius


Giacobbe Giusti, Column of Marcus Aurelius


Giacobbe Giusti, Column of Marcus Aurelius


Giacobbe Giusti, Column of Marcus Aurelius

Eretta nel 180 d.C. dall’imperatore Commodo (161-192) in onore del padre, l’imperatore Marco Aurelio, la Colonna Antonina presenta numerosi rilievi di cui alcuni dettagli sono stati fotografati in questa immagine: i soldati romani sono qui raffigurati nell’atto di un rituale per la pira funeraria. Marco Aurelio (121-180), noto per aver combattuto i parti, i quadi e i marcomanni (166-180), fu anche un filosofo stoico, difatti ci ha lasciato i Ricordi (o Colloqui con se stesso ). Sulla Colonna Antonina ci sono scolpiti gli episodi delle sue imprese.

The Column of Marcus Aurelius (Latin: Columna Centenaria Divorum Marci et Faustinae, Italian: Colonna di Marco Aurelio) is a Roman victory column in Piazza Colonna, Rome, Italy. It is a Doric column featuring a spiral relief: it was built in honour of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and modeled on Trajan’s Column.


Because the original dedicatory inscription has been destroyed, it is not known whether it was built during the emperor’s reign (on the occasion of the triumph over the Marcomanni, Quadi and Sarmatians in the year 176) or after his death in 180; however, an inscription found in the vicinity attests that the column was completed by 193.

In terms of the topography of ancient Rome, the column stood on the north part of the Campus Martius, in the centre of a square. This square was either between the temple of Hadrian (probably the Hadrianeum) and the temple of Marcus Aurelius (dedicated by his son Commodus, of which nothing now remains – it was probably on the site of Palazzo Wedekind), or within the latter’s sacred precinct, of which nothing remains. Nearby is the site where the emperor’s cremation occurred.

The column’s shaft is 29.62 metres (97.2 ft) high, on a ca. 10.1-metre (33 ft) high base, which in turn originally stood on a 3 metres (9.8 ft) high platform – the column in total is 39.72 metres (130.3 ft)[1] About 3 metres of the base have been below ground level since the 1589 restoration.

The column consists of 27 or 28 blocks of Carrara marble, each of 3.7 metres (12 ft) diameter, hollowed out whilst still at the quarry for a stairway of 190-200 steps within the column up to a platform at the top. Just as with Trajan’s Column, this stairway is illuminated through narrow slits into the relief.


German council of war – considered an early evidence to what would become known as the Thing (assembly).

The spiral picture relief tells the story of Marcus Aurelius’ Danubian or Marcomannic wars, waged by him from 166 to his death. The story begins with the army crossing the river Danube, probably at Carnuntum. A Victory separates the accounts of two expeditions. The exact chronology of the events is disputed; however, the latest theory states that the expeditions against the Marcomanni and Quadi in the years 172 and 173 are in the lower half and the successes of the emperor over the Sarmatians in the years 174 and 175 in the upper half.

One particular episode portrayed is historically attested in Roman propaganda – the so-called “rain miracle in the territory of the Quadi”, in which a god, answering a prayer from the emperor, rescues Roman troops by a terrible storm, a miracle later claimed by the Christians for the Christian God.[2]

In spite of many similarities to Trajan’s column, the style is entirely different, a forerunner of the dramatic style of the 3rd century and closely related to the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus, erected soon after. The figures’ heads are disproportionately large so that the viewer can better interpret their facial expressions. The images are carved less finely than at Trajan’s Column, through drilling holes more deeply into the stone, so that they stand out better in a contrast of light and dark. As villages are burned down, women and children are captured and displaced, men are killed, the emotion, despair, and suffering of the “barbarians” in the war, are represented acutely in single scenes and in the figures’ facial expressions and gestures, whilst the emperor is represented as protagonist, in control of his environment.

The symbolic language is altogether clearer and more expressive, if clumsier at first sight, and leaves a wholly different impression on the viewer to the whole artistic style of 100 to 150 as on Trajan’s column. There, cool and sober balance – here, drama and empathy. The pictorial language is unambiguous – imperial dominance and authority is emphasized, and its leadership is justified. Overall, it is an anticipation of the development of artistic style into late antiquity, and a first artistic expression of the crisis of the Roman empire that would worsen in the 3rd century.



Giacobbe Giusti, Head of a statue of emperor Augustus

Giacobbe Giusti, Head of a statue of emperor Augustus

Giacobbe Giusti, Head of a statue of emperor Augustus



The bronze head of Augustus from Meroë on display in the British Museum
Material Bronze
Size 46.2 cm high
Created 27-25 BC
Present location British Museum, London
Identification 1911,0901.1

The Meroë Head, or Head of Augustus from Meroë is a larger-than-life-size bronze head that was found in the ancient Nubian site of Meroë in Sudan. Long admired for its striking appearance and perfect proportions, it is now part of the British Museum‘s collection.[1][2]


The head was excavated by the British archaeologistJohn Garstang in December 1910 at Meroë, which had been the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries. The sculpture was found buried beneath a monumental stairway that lead to an altar of victory. This intended insult of burying the statue resulted in the head being well presented[3] after being buried for over 1900 years. The bust was donated to the British Museum by the Sudan Excavation Committee with the support of the National Art Collections Fund in 1911.[4]

Kushite raids

The head had clearly been hacked off a large statue made in honour of the Roman Emperor Augustus. The Greek historian Strabo mentions in his chronicles that numerous towns in Lower Egypt were adorned with statues of Augustus before an invading Kushite army looted many of them in 25 BC. Although the Roman military successfully invaded Kushite territory and reclaimed many statues, they were unable to reach as far south as the Kushite capital itself. The placing of the Emperor’s head below the shrine’s steps was designed to symbolically denigrate the reputation of Augustus in the eyes of the Meroitic aristocracy.[5]


The Meroë Head is larger than life-size and mimics Greek art by portraying Augustus with classical proportions; it was clearly designed to idealise and flatter the Emperor. Made of bronze, the eyes are inset with glass pupils and calcite irises. It is the preservation of the eyes (which are frequently lost in ancient bronze statues) which makes this statue so startlingly realistic. The emperor’s head turns to his right and gazes powerfully into the distance. His hair falls onto his brow in waves that are typical of Augustus’s portraits.[5] The British Museum has several other notable bronze heads of Roman Emperors including an image of Claudius. The heads are thought to have been made locally but based on moulds created in Rome.[5]

Giacobbe Giusti, PIETRO CAVALLINI: mosaics at the apse of Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere

Giacobbe Giusti, PIETRO CAVALLINI: mosaics at the apse of Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere


Giacobbe Giusti, PIETRO CAVALLINI: mosaics at the apse of Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere