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Regio I - Insula III - Caseggiato di Diana (I,III,3-4) - Recent excavations

It is unfortunate that only preliminary publications have appeared about the recent excavations. We do not know where trenches were dug. We do not know how deep they were. We do not know whether "terra vergine" was reached. We do not know what kind of walls were found (rising walls? foundation walls?). We do not know whether mosaic floors were lifted.

Marinucci stresses that the first building phase is Hadrianic. It seems that he regards the masonry that he found at a lower level ánd the yellow bricks of the standing walls as Hadrianic. In support of his dating he adds that a large piece of masonry found by Vaglieri (NSc 1908, 330), containing Hadrianic brick stamps, belongs to the House of Diana. And he found several Hadrianic brickstamps himself. Unfortunately, we are not told where he found the brickstamps. And about the masonry found in 1908 Calza says (NSc 1915, 327): "probabilmente appartenente alla stessa casa di Diana o alla sua adiacente". That it belonged to the House of Diana is unlikely, because the masonry found by Vaglieri is related to a fire, and a fire was, according to Calza, not responsible for the destruction of the building (Vaglieri: "preda di un incendio ... mosaici guastati dal fuoco"; see also Bakker 1999, p. 53, n. 61).

Click here to open a plan of the building in a separate window: second building phase according to Marinucci (note that some room numbers used by Marinucci differ from those used by Packer; from Marinucci-Falzone 2001, fig. 7).

What we now know for sure is, that older pavements were found (one of which had already been found by Calza), perhaps Hadrianic, perhaps older. Their shape, presumably in combination with masonry, indicates that the original plan of the building did not differ much from what we see today. In the courtyard was a white mosaic with a black border. In the corridor to the north (22) a polychrome mosaic was found. In room 25 was polychrome opus sectile, the shape of which suggests that the room was a triclinium. It is very strange however, that the east section of the opus sectile was in a small, separate room (Marinucci does not contemplate the possibility that the room is a later addition). A geometric mosaic was found in room 24. Marinucci discovered a well below the niche in room 19. He claims that the room also contained a kitchen. He maintains that rooms 4 and 5, and 6 and 7 were combinations of a vestibule and fauces. He regards the building as a domus.

The opus sectile in room 25. From Marinucci-Falzone 2001, fig. 5.

The polychrome mosaic in corridor 22. Photograph: Eric Taylor.

A second phase is dated by Marinucci to c. 150 AD, without adducing arguments for the date. In the courtyard a large fountain in a rectangular, marble basin was placed on top of the mosaic. In the long sides of the fountain are two semicircular niches flanking a rectangular one, in the short sides is a rectangular niche. On top of the fountain are three stepped structures over which the water flowed. The fountain was decorated with a mosaic of green and yellow glass paste, with vegetative motifs. On a fistula the names M. Cornelius Secundus and Sergia Paula can be read. They may have been the owners of the building. The remainder of the courtyard was paved with marble. New geometric black-and-white mosaics were installed in the corridors around the courtyard.

The fountain in courtyard 28, seen from the north. Photograph: Eric Taylor.

The fountain in courtyard 28, seen from the north-west. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Marinucci's third phase seems to coincide with the final plan of the building, as described by Packer. A date is suggested in the late second or early third century. According to Marinucci no floors can be related to this phase, apart from a partly reused floor in room 25.

A fourth phase is dated by Marinucci to the second quarter of the third century. The level of the floors was raised 60 centimetres. The fountain was given up. Marinucci suggests that the building had partly collapsed. This would be suggested by the state of preservation of the marble in the courtyard. The foundations were raised and reinforced, and many reinforcing masonry was added: in rooms 8-12, to the northwest of the courtyard, and in the west part of room 25. Geometric black-and-white mosaics in rooms 23 and 24, found by Calza, are assigned by him to this phase, and a similar mosaic in room 25 would also belong to it. Below these mosaics lamps were found that had been produced at the end of the second or in the first half of the third century. No floors belonging to this phase have been preserved in the courtyard, and in most of the rooms around the courtyard.

The final interventions are dated by Marinucci to the period c. 250-350 AD. The reservoir was installed in the courtyard, with the floor of bipedales. The floors of basalt blocks were installed in rooms 20 and 30, in 30 together with a trough. Floors of opus spicatum were made in rooms 3 and 18, and in the corridor to the west of the courtyard. Early in this phase, Marinucci says, the mithraeum was installed.

Stella Falzone has recently studied the paintings from the building, accepting the building phases as suggested by Marinucci. The paintings in room 4 and on the walls of room 30, from the reign of Marcus Aurelius according to Van Essen, are assigned by her to the late second or early third century (for an overview of these and other dating proposals for the paintings see Falzone 2000, p. 162, n. 19).

The rooms on the ground floor and first floor have been interpreted as a domus, rented apartments, a hotel, and the seat of a guild. Click here to read part three, about the interpretation of the building.

[jthb - 4-Apr-2004; for this page I would like to thank Joanne Spurza]