Canadian Excavations at the Villa of Titus, 2023 (20 min)


Myles McCallum, Saint Mary?s University; and Martin Beckmann, McMaster University


In 2023, a team of researchers from Saint Mary's and McMaster Universities continued excavations at the so-called Villa of Titus in the province of Rieti (Lazio), Italy. The structure, identified as a late-republican/early imperial Roman villa by Italian archaeologists in 2011, appears to be a substantial terraced villa with a cryptoporticus situated next to Lacus Cutiliae, believed by ancient Italians to be the geographic center of Italy and sacred to the Sabine goddess Vacuna. In 2023, we wanted to complete the excavation of a large reception or cultic space as well as adjacent rooms to get a better idea of the structure's overall layout and what appears to be the residential area. We also wanted to completely excavate one of the rooms in the cryptoporticus, in search of spaces related to the presence of lower status individuals who worked on the property. We managed to complete both goals and more. Our results demonstrate that the building's upper terrace contained a range of rooms, including the reception space, adjacent to an open courtyard, as well as evidence for previous occupation phases at the site. We also completed excavation of a storage area in the cryptoporticus, which brought to light information related to the building's monumentalization and commercial connections to other parts of Italy and the Mediterranean during the first and second centuries C.E. Excavations both on the terrace and within the cryptoporticus have also demonstrated the importance of wooden elements in the building's construction, including its foundations. The extensive use of wood within concrete structures, as well as the use of perishable building materials, such as cob of pise architecture discussed in our 2022 report, mark this structure as potentially significant to our understanding of the history of Roman architecture and engineering during the early Imperial period.