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Luxurious Roman Villa On Display Under Lavish Modern Apartment Block

Luxurious Roman Villa On Display Under Lavish Modern Apartment Block


Rome is a place where many archaeological treasures and remains continue to be found. The latest discovery is a luxury villa with many remarkable artifacts and spectacular mosaics. This luxury Roman villa is providing us with new insights into how the elite in Rome lived up to 2000 years ago.

From the discoveries made at this site, we can certainly say that the Roman elite lived in opulence. The  domus was found at the foot of the famous Aventine Hill in central Rome in 2015. Originally, this hill was inhabited by poor people, but by the reign of Augustus it was where the Roman elite, including senators, made their home, and it’s “not far from the Circus Maximus,” reports Wanted in Rome.

The Aventine Hill, where the Roman luxury villa was discovered in 2015, as seen from the Palatine Hill in central Rome. (Walter T Crane / Public domain )

Ancient Luxury Roman Villa Found In The Heart of Modern Rome

The Roman luxury villa was uncovered, completely by chance, during the earthquake proofing of a 1950s building in central Rome. Archaeologists found a large villa that had been occupied for several generations at the foot of a modern condominium.  Their work continued even while a new 180-apartment development rose-up around the archaeological site.

Forbes reports that “The dig revealed six different strata of historical remains, ranging from 8th century BC to 3rd century AD.” This time period stretches from the birth of Rome to the peak of Imperial Roman power. Among the most important finds were the remains of an 8 th century BC stone tower. The Daily Mail reports that “Excavations also revealed a defensive wall from the time of the Roman republic (509–27 BC).” These findings are helping researchers to better understand the topography of Rome in ancient times.

Remains of the upper-class Roman luxury villa unearthed by archaeologists in central Rome. (Domus Aventino)

Ancient Roman Villa: A Lavish Home Full Of Treasures

The ancient Roman villa, which would have been known as a domus, was once a sumptuous residence that included many artifacts and wonderful mosaics in its series of rooms.  Based on this evidence, “archaeologists believe that the domus belonged to a ‘person of power’,” reports Wanted in Rome. The owners may have been members of the senatorial order because the villa was so luxurious. Daniela Porro, an archaeologist and official who works for the Italian capital, told Forbes that the family who lived here were “probably linked to the imperial family.”

Rome: An Archaeological Jewel At Every Level

Since its discovery in 2015, the archaeologists have unearthed a treasure trove of artifacts in this Roman luxury villa. Among the finds were a hammer, lamps, needles, hairpins, and lacquered bowls decorated with figures from Greek mythology. Also found was a vessel that contained garum fish sauce, which was a delicacy extremely popular with the Roman elite. These finds show that the Roman elite had a very high standard of living.

Though the remains of some great frescoes were also found in the villa, its mosaics are considered to be especially spectacular. The mosaic sections were laid down over a period of two hundred years, beginning in first century AD.  The Daily Telegraph quoted Mr Porro as saying that “Rome never ceases to surprise us. It’s an archaeological jewel.”

The frescoes and mosaics discovered in the ancient Roman villa are considered to be among the finest ever found. (Domus Aventino)

Spectacular Mosaics In The Luxury Villa Tell Us A Lot

The mosaics unearthed in the Roman luxury villa were made in the style known as “black and white” because they are almost entirely made from black and white stone cubes. They consist of thousands of tiny cube-shaped stones that are known as tesserae. Black and white mosaics were popular from the 1 st century AD onward and have been found all over Italy and beyond. One of the villa’s black and white mosaics has a small section depicting a colorful green parrot.  Another one shows a grapevine growing out of a pot.

One of the surface artworks found in the villa was very unusual. It consisted of a series of figure of eight patterns. Robert Narducci, who took part in the villa excavation process is quoted by the Daily Mail as stating that “We’ve not seen it before,” in reference to the figure of eight pattern.  At least one of the black and white mosaics contains a Latin inscription.  These mosaics would not have been laid down solely for decorative purposes: they were intended to express the splendor and power of the owner of the villa and his family to the wider community.

The Ancient Roman Luxury Villa Is Now An Underground Museum

The elite Roman luxury villa and its artworks have recently been turned into a subterranean museum. To reach the museum, visitors have to enter the newly built apartment complex and go down a staircase. Anselmo De Titta, a senior director with the company that owns the new apartment building told the Daily Mail that “It’s quite a challenge to allow access to the site while protecting the privacy of the condominium’s residents.”

Video projections have been added to the museum’s attractions to enhance the experience. “The walls of the space now enclosing the villa are illuminated with video projections of a Roman senator and his wife walking amid marble busts and ornate furnishings,” according to the Daily Mail. Initially, the villa and its mosaics will be opened two days a month, but if they prove popular, the opening hours will be extended.

Top image: Mosaic uncovered at the Domus Aventino apartment block development.      Source: Domus Aventino

By Ed Whelan

Ed Whelan's picture


My name is Edward Whelan and I graduated with a PhD in history in 2008. Between 2010-2012 I worked in the Limerick City Archives. I have written a book and several peer reviewed journal articles. At present I am a... Read More

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