Villa Romana del Casale Italy

Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina is the supreme example of a luxury Roman villa, graphically illustrating the predominant social and economic structure of its age. Its decorative mosaics are exceptional for their artistic quality and invention as well as their extent.An earlier rural settlement generally thought to have been a farm, although on slender evidence, existed on the site where the late Roman villa was built. Its orientation was the same as that of the baths of the villa, and its foundations were discovered beneath parts of the villa.

Villa Romana del Casale Italy
Continent: Europe
Country: Italy
Category: Cultural
Criterion: (I) (II) (III)
Date of Inscription: 1997

Residence of a rich tenant

The existence of baths in the earliest phase of the site suggests that it was the residence of a rich tenant or the steward of a rich landowner. Two portraits were discovered dating from the Flavian period (late 1st century AD) that may represent members of the owner's family. The stratigraphy of this earlier house provides a chronology from the 1st century AD to the Tetrarchy at the end of the 3rd century.

Villa Romana del Casale
Villa Romana del Casale Italy

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Earlier house was destroyed by an earthquake

There are indications that the earlier house was destroyed by an earthquake in the first decade of the 4th century, by which time it was probably owned by Marcus Aurelius Maximinianus, a Pannonian who had risen from the ranks of the Roman army to become a general, and then was raised to the status of Augustus by Diocletian. On the violent death of Maximinianus in 310 it would have passed to his son and imperial colleague Maxentius, killed at the battle of Milvian Bridge in Rome in 312.

The grandeur and lavishness of the structure that arose on the ruins of the house suggests that it was built on the orders, if not of a Roman ruler, then by a rich and powerful landowner, between 310 and 340. It was occupied until the Arab invasion of the 9th century, although in a state of increasing degradation. The final act of destruction was the work of the Norman ruler of Sicily, William I the Bad, around 1155.

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