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Philippianus and his late Roman estate: recent excavations at Gerace, central Sicily
March 20, 2022 @ 2:00 pm EDT Eastern Time
55 Laurier Avenue East
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5 Canada
Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
AIA Society: Ottawa
Lecturer: Roger Wilson
Gerace is a Roman estate centre in the heart of Sicily, 10 km south of Enna, where the speaker has been excavating since 2013. A substantial estate granary, built c. 275/325 CE but violently destroyed, probably by earthquake, was succeeded by a compact Roman villa in the late fourth century, which had been equipped with some mosaic pavements but appears never to have been finished. Ubiquitous tile-stamps recording the name of Philippianus indicate the identity of the estate owner at that time. Further up the hill, in a compact bath-house built perhaps c. 380 CE, the frigidarium was found also to have been left partially incomplete (one of its cold pools was never installed), but its mosaic floor was still intact: it had a unique design, and an inscription around all four sides. Interpretation of the latter is controversial, but it may contain a possible clue to the interests and activities of the estate owners and of a link with Rome. The bath-house’s heated rooms had been decorated with polychrome marble on the walls, and geometric mosaics on the floors, but the structure was systematically stripped of its ceramic building materials (and the mosaic pavements in these rooms smashed) – an interesting example of Roman recycling – when life in the bath-house was brought to an end by a second serious earthquake, sometime after 450 CE. The villa building, however, was patched up after this event, but lasted only a few more years, before a devastating fire c. 500 CE brought élite life at Gerace to a close.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:
https://cnrs.ubc.ca/for-undergraduates/archaeological-field-schools/sicily-2019/ [and /2018, /2017, /2016, /2015]
Current World Archaeology 89, 16–23 and 92, 14–15 (both 2018)