Abstract: Mosaics and Beyond: The Villa of Piazza Armerina (Sicily) and its Environment


The most splendid and famous of Roman rural villas is the Villa del Casale near Piazza Armerina in central Sicily. The villa’s meters of floor mosaics are some of the best-preserved and most opulent in the world, with scenes of circus racing and bikini-clad gymnasts, while a succession of courtyards, reception halls and dining rooms dazzled visitors.  Despite its fame and splendor, the most basic facts surrounding the villa remain mysterious: when was it built? Who was its owner? And why was this extraordinary residence built in the vast emptiness of central Sicily?

This talk will introduce the audience to the splendors of Piazza Armerina, and the new work carried out in and around the villa. The speaker’s project is the first-ever investigation of the villa’s economy – its agricultural landscape and its connection with Roman trade networks. We have also discovered a previously unknown city near the villa, shedding important light on the villa’s life and function.

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