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VIA GABINA SITE 10: VILLA

Provisional Summary of G10/81 Pottery

The 1980 G10 pottery summary, which was based on pottery evidence alone, suggested two major periods of occupation on Site 10, the earlier in the Augustan period and the later in the late second and early third centuries A.D.

G10/81 pottery suggests only slight modifications to the general picture seen in 1980. The pottery again suggests two major periods; the earlier running from c. 50 B.C. to c. 50 A.D. and the later c. 180-230 A.D.

The earlier of the two major groups is characterized by a few fragments of black glaze of the later first century B.C. (for instance, a Lamboglia Form 16/28, P4104, EE23 B(3), very thin-walled unglazed beakers (P4019, V23 N 4) or beakers with a subtly iridescent glaze (P4106, CC15 West A 4) and Italian terra sigillata of Augustan (P4096, V23 N 2; P4012, V23 N 2; P4064, BB20 South Z(6), P4088, BB20 South Z (8) and Tiberian date (P4047, DD18 West G(5)). This last piece is dated by an in planta pedis stamp: the type does not appear before the reign of Tiberius. Contemporary coarse ware types, especially lids with asymmetrical lid knobs, were also found.

The late group is characterized by African Red Slip coarse ware forms 23 A, 23 B, 182, 196 and 197 in quantity and ARS fine ware forms 3 C (the large version), 8 B, 14 and 27. There are several contemporary forms (dated by association) in color-coated plain ware-the most common of these is a jar, evidently with a single handle, which is recognizable by its sloping wall and narrow horizontal rim. The most common associated coarse ware form is a wide-mouthed jar with a wide horizontal rim, which is beveled on the underside. A complete jar of this type, with a rounded base, was found in topsoil in 1980 (P3061, X18 1 and BB12 D 1).

In addition to these two major groups, there are very slight amounts of material from a period c. 200 B.C. Black glaze sherds in Lamboglia Forms 27 B and 25 B, often in the fabric of the Petites Estampilles workshop, appear in:

AA16 X (4)

AA24 B(2)

BB20 North A (2)

BB20 South Z (8)

CC15 West B (4)

EE23 H (2) and (3)

Two pieces of contemporary coarse ware (G4 and G4/9 in the Site 11 typology) occur in AA24 2. One piece of uncertainly identified Campana A black glaze appears in CC15 West A 3, a likely piece of Hellenistic banded ware of the fifth/fourth centuries B.C. appears in topsoil (DD16 South 1).

One of the most interesting pieces on the site is a unique bowl of black Eastern Sigillata B. (P4062, BB20 South Z 4 and 8), a fabric type for which John Hayes suggests a Trajanic or Hadrianic date. There is very little other excavated material which specifically belongs to the late first or early second century A.D.: no examples of the Italian sigillata forms dominant in the mid-first century A.D. (Goudineau Forms 43 and 38), no relief-moulded Late Italian terra sigillata, no Gaulish sigillata, no red Eastern Sigillata B 2 and very few examples of early ARS fine wares as Forms 3 A, 3 B, 7, 8 A and 9 A.

A few sherds clearly postdate the large group of material from the late second and early third centuries A.D. An example of ARS Form 50 A in "terra sigillata chiara C", most likely of the second half of the third century A.D., appears in BB12 C 2. This piece could belong to the early third century A.D., but another example of Form 50 in BB22 A 2 is probably of the fourth century A.D. More specifically datable is a stamped ARS base sherd (P4125, EE18 West 1, Hayes stamp motif 26, stamp type A(i)), which Hayes dates c. 320-350 A.D.

Sherds with wavy combed decoration, which appears in the late fourth or early fifth century A.D. (and may continue for several centuries), appear in BB22 A 3, BB12 C 2 (P4014) and EE18 West 1/EE17 North 2 (P4063).

Two small, somewhat insecurely identified sherds of ARS, possibly of the late fourth or early fifth century A.D, are the latest closely datable pieces excavated in 1981. P4060 (DD18 West 1) may be a sherd of Form 91 B; P4139 (EE17 North 1) may be a sherd of Form 66.

No new examples of 'Forum Ware' were found in 1981.

Some very nice pieces were excavated in 1981: in particular, the wall of an Italian terra sigillata modiolus with a relief-moulded pattern of grape vines and bunches (P4096); a small complete red-slipped beaker, with very thick walls for this form and with a barbotine thorn decoration (P4081); a rather mysterious complete vessel, probably contemporary with the late second/early third century group, which has a form reminiscent of a large, elongated cucurbitula (P4066); and a Dressel 2-4 amphora which is two-thirds complete, from rim to belly (P4144). A scratched graffito on the shoulder of this amphora may read "LA".

The pottery material is compatible with the evidence of the coins and brick stamps if it is recognized that most of the early material was originally stratified below the construction level of the villa rustica, while the large group of pottery of the late second and early third century A.D. represents the late occupation and destruction material for the villa.

This explanation has been offered for the datable finds excavated at the Terme del Nuotatore at Ostia (Carandini, et al., Studi Miscellanei 13, 16, 21, 23), which was built c. 80/90 A.D., but does not yield significant quantities of pottery of the second and early third centuries A.D., the period during which it was actively occupied. Building interiors are kept tidy during a period of intensive occupation.

The findspot of the coins of Alexander Severus and Maximinus provides a terminus post quem of 238 A.D. for the destruction of the villa rustica and construction of the late barn. This fact suggests that the large late group of pottery should better be described as a group of the first half, or even second quarter, of the third century A.D.

Some stratified early material was dug in 1981; taken together, this material suggests a date for the construction of the perimeter wall and early plan of the villa.

In V23 N 2, material associated with the perimeter wall and evidently below floor level included the ITS modiolus described above, which is almost certainly of Augustan date, and a platter with a high squared base ring (P4012), of the same approximate date. A slightly later piece of ITS, probably of Tiberian date (also mentioned above), was found in DD18 West G 5, along the south perimeter wall of the villa. The in planta pedis stamp is of C. Clodius Sabinus (CCLOSAB); sixty-one similar examples are listed in Oxe-Comfort (455). Comfort also published six examples of bases with this stamp from the collection of the American School at Rome (MAAR VII (1929), pp. 192-193). He describes C. Clodius Sabinus.as an Arretine manufacturer who evidently works only in the period when the foot-shaped stamp had been introduced. Comfort places the introduction of the stamp type to 20 A.D. While Comfort describes Sabinus as "recentius" (i.e., fairly late in the Arretine continuum), the base profiles he shows with this stamp type probably date c. 20 to 30 A.D.

While very little material has been excavated on which to base a date for the construction of the villa, there is nothing to suggest a date later than this piece. It establishes a terminus post quem for the villa construction in the period 20-50 A.D.; I would suggest a date c. 20-30 A.D. on the present evidence. This date is also compatible with the early group of brick-stamps.


Joann Freed

 

All text and images copyright © 2002 by Walter Widrig and Rice University. Last updated June 2005 by dmc-info@rice.edu.