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The Excavations of San Giovanni di Ruoti

The Excavations of San Giovanni di Ruoti: Volume I: The Villas and their Environment

B.G. Ackroyd
I.A. Campbell
K.M.D. Dunbabin
H. Fracchia
J. Freed
E.R. Haldenby
J.W. Hayes
S.G. Monckton
R. Reece
C. Roberto
J.J. Rossiter
C.J. Simpson
Site drawings by E.R. Haldenby
Artifact drawings by R. Aicher
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 442
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  • Book Info
    The Excavations of San Giovanni di Ruoti
    Book Description:

    This volume reports the findings of a Canadian archaeological team under the direction of the authors at San Giovanni di Ruoti in the highlands of southern Italy. The excavations, which took place over a seven-year period, have revealed a series of three Roman villas which span the period from the beginning of the first century AD to the middle of the sixth century. Of these villas, the third is particularly important since it provides the best evidence to date for the development of a villa in the transitional period between the end of the Roman Empire in the West and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

    The core of this volume is an architectural study of the building in its stratigraphic context, with artifacts selected to establish the chronology of the building sequence. Preliminary chapters deal with the geographical and historical background, and with the relation of this villa to other Roman villas in Lucania and to other settlements in the vicinity. The development of the building in each period is illustrated with architectural plans and reconstructions. The building materials are described and analysed, and the mosaics found in the villa of the latest period are fully illustrated. The stratigraphic evidence is presented in a final chapter with thirty-four section drawings.

    Further volumes are planned with detailed analyses of the artifacts and of the faunal and botanical remains, and a final summing up of the significance of the site.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8121-7
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xxii)
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
    A.M. Small and R.J. Buck
    (pp. xxv-2)
  7. 1 General Observations
    (pp. 3-6)
    A.M. Small and R.J. Buck

    The surroundings of San Giovanni are extremely beautiful. The site lies at an altitude of ca. 670 m on a southward-facing slope overlooking the Fiumara di Avigliano, one of the headwaters of the River Sele, near the western watershed of the Apennines. From the ruins of the villa, one can look across the valley over a patchwork of small fields and vineyards to the medieval and moderncomuneof Ruoti, or down the river to the distant hill of Monte Marmo. Much of the uplands are covered in forest. The beauty of the view and the freshness of the air...

  8. 2 The Physical Environment
    (pp. 7-18)
    I.A. Campbell

    The villa (ca. 40° 44ʹ N; 15° 40ʹ E) is located in the Lucanian Uplands of the southern Apennines (Houston 1964) and is almost centrally placed between the Tyrrehenian and Adriatic coasts (Fig. 1). It is some 27 km northwest of Potenza and about 2 km north of the village of Ruoti. The site lies at an elevation of ca. 670 m, on the slopes north of the Fiumara di Avigliano, facing south (Fig. 6). The southerly position of the site, together with its topographic character, produces a set of environmental conditions that governs the types of climate, vegetation, soil,...

  9. 3 The Field Survey
    (pp. 19-22)
    C. Roberto and A.M. Small

    Between 1979 and 1983 an intensive field survey was carried out in a large area surrounding the villa at San Giovanni with the aim of establishing the pattern of settlement of which the villa formed a part, and of throwing light on the relationship between the villa and other sites in the vicinity.¹ The strategy adopted was to cover all the accessible ground within a radius of 6 km of the villa. The whole area so defined would amount to approximately 113 km². In practice, however, the modern towns and denser woodlands had to be excluded, so that only about...

  10. 4 The Historical Background
    (pp. 23-36)
    A.M. Small and R.J. Buck

    The literary sources for the study of the history of Lucania to the death of Justinian are few, brief, and obscure: some passages in Livy; a handful of anecdotes in Frontinus, Plutarch, and Aelian; terse mentions in Justin, Heraclides Ponticus, and Nicolaus of Damascus; a short excursus in Strabo; casual references made by other authors, from Horace to Orosius; brief remarks in the law codes and in Cassiodorus; and enigmatic campaign summaries in Procopius. References to the area around San Giovanni are virtually non-existent. A great deal of evidence, then, for the history of Lucania in general and San Giovanni...

  11. 5 Villa Building in Roman Lucania
    (pp. 37-42)
    A.M. Small

    Roman villas were the out-of-town houses of the landowning class, built in the open countryside or by the sea. They were visible symbols of the wealth and pride of their owners. The rich might lavish money on their villas, embellishing them with mosaics, wall paintings, and marble ornament, especially in the bath suites and dining-rooms, which were the social centres of these houses. The poorer would content themselves with more modest structures. For all landowners villas had two quite different functions: they were a retreat from the cares of the world, where the harasseddominicould hope to find leisure...

  12. 6 The Excavations: Period 1
    (pp. 43-60)
    A.M. Small and R.J. Buck

    In May 1977, at the beginning of the first season of excavation, a magnetometric survey of the site was carried out by the Fondazione Lerici under the direction of the late R.E. Linington (1983). Trial trenches were then laid out on the basis of his advice as to where magnetometric anomalies indicated heavy falls of material and the probable location of large structures. The indications were accurate, and the results successful. After the stratification had been tested in thesesondages, the excavation was gradually extended until the limits of the buildings were reached. A policy of open-area excavation was followed...

  13. 7 The Excavations: Period 2
    (pp. 61-74)
    A.M. Small and R.J. Buck

    The excavations of Period 2 are subdivided into three phases – 2A, 2B, and 2C – each of which is described separately. The three together make up a period of approximately a half-century, from about AD 350 to about 400, as will be discussed later.

    In this phase the buildings of Period 1 (see Fig. 38) were in large part reoccupied, with some reconstruction in the eastern area and some demolition in the western. The eastern part of the building may have been in poor repair, or otherwise in a precarious state, so that it had to be extensively rebuilt....

  14. 8 The Excavations: Period 3A
    (pp. 75-90)
    A.M. Small and R.J. Buck

    A much more impressive set of buildings was constructed around AD 400. The new villa lasted for nearly a century and a half, but since it was extended and altered around the middle of this period, its development can best be considered in two phases, 3A and 3B. In brief, all of the buildings of Period 2 that have been excavated were demolished, except for the four rooms built in Period 2C. These rooms were incorporated into a new set of structures, with an apsidal building, apraetorium, in the southwest corner, a new bath suite at the southeast, and...

  15. 9 The Excavations: Period 3B
    (pp. 91-122)
    A.M. Small and R.J. Buck

    At some time in the third quarter of the fifth century the apsidal building collapsed, as a result of a landslip. The signs are clearly visible in the large cracks in the north and south walls, and in the displaced masonry of the apse (Fig. 63). The landslip was perhaps precipitated by an earthquake, for San Giovanni lies in a zone of seismic weakness, and several earthquakes are attested in the Italian peninsula in the fifth century.¹ The apsidal building was then demolished; other damaged rooms were reconstructed; and several new ranges of buildings were added to the north of...

  16. 10 Building Materials
    (pp. 123-148)
    A.M. Small

    Much information about the building materials, and some facts about the construction of the buildings, can be derived from the rubble found in the destruction layers, and from the surviving masonry. The preserved heights of the walls are shown in Figure 134. Before this evidence can be used, however, it is necessary to assess the extent to which the materials are likely to have been salvaged for reuse elsewhere. Some of the evidence is given in detail in the discussion of the different types of material, but it may be helpful to anticipate some of the more general conclusions here....

  17. 11 The Sections
    (pp. 149-264)
    A.M. Small

    During the course of the excavations, 373 sections were drawn. The 34 presented here have been selected because of their value as evidence for the stratigraphy of the site, or for the sequence of structures. Their locations on the site are shown in Figure 151. Most of the details in the tables are self-explanatory, but a few points call for some comment:

    (a) The fourth column on each page records the average number of sherds found in each layer per coordinate of 4 m², which was the basic unit of the excavation grid. The figures are presented in this way...

  18. NOTES
    (pp. 265-270)
    (pp. 271-282)
    (pp. 283-434)
    (pp. 435-442)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 443-444)
  23. [Map]
    (pp. 445-446)