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Regio IV - Villa suburbana

Behind the beach to the south of Ostia was a long row of luxurious villas. The westernmost of these was located in 2001 through geophysical research, conducted by the German Archaeological Institute in Rome (directed by M. Heinzelmann). This villa suburbana is situated in the south-west part of region IV, to the east of the Terme di Porta Marina (IV,X,1-2) and to the north of the Synagogue (IV,XVII,1). The north end was set against the outside of the city wall. A few small trenches were investigated.

Plan of the south-west part of region IV with new discoveries,
resulting from geophysical research by the German Archaeological Institute
in Rome. The villa suburbana is indicated in red, numbers indicate trenches.
Plan: Michael Heinzelmann.

The building is huge. The length of the facade is 125 metres. It offered a splendid view of the sea. It consists of a narrow rectangular area with a porticus at the south end ("Garden-stadium"). At the narrow east end are rooms with niches in the back wall. The ground floor had a relatively simple decoration of paintings and black-and-white mosaics. The first floor was decorated with marble. Behind these rooms is a huge cistern with three compartments. In the central part of the building is a peristylium (c. 35 x 30 metres). It is surrounded by walls with large windows. The living quarters are in the north part (c. 60 x 50 metres).

Plan of the villa (Michael Heinzelmann).

The villa was built in the last decades of the first century AD. The cistern stopped functioning during the reign of Hadrian. Heated floors and the marble decoration of floors and walls have been dated to the second half of the second century. The building was completely destroyed by an earthquake at the end of the third century. The villa as such was not rebuilt. Walls of opus vittatum from the fourth century belong to a much simpler structure, that was destroyed in the late fourth or early fifth century.

The building as seen on Bing Maps in the Spring of 2011. Seen from the north.

[jthb - 17-Mar-2006]