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  • Marzuolo
  • Marzuolo
  • Italy
  • Tuscany
  • Province of Siena
  • Montalcino



  • The Italian Database is the result of a collaboration between:

    MIBAC (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale per i Beni Archeologici),

    ICCD (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione) and

    AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica).

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Summary (English)

  • In 2016, the Marzuolo Archaeological Project (MAP) began a research programme on the site of Podere Marzuolo (Cinigiano, GR), which had previously been investigated through survey and excavation in 2012-2013 as part of the Roman Peasant Project. The latter project identified a complex for the production of Italian sigillata, both in a experimental phase (30-10 B.C.) and in a later standardised phase (50-70 A.D.). MAP was created with the aim of reconstructing the innovation process, whose presence on the rural site of Marzuolo casts doubt on current models for the Roman economy. Sites such as Torrita di Siena and Scoppieto have already raised questions about a strictly urban production model for Italian sigillata, but these important finds neither led to the re-examination of more general theories on the Roman economy, nor to a more detailed analysis of the processes of innovation and transfer of knowledge.

    During MAP’s first excavation campaign, two 10 × 10 m trenches were opened with the aim of clarifying the site’s chronological and spatial development. In the south area (Area 16000) a linear structure orientated NE-SW was identified, formed by two large rectangular rooms (each measured c. 4.5 × 9 m) with front entrances c. 4.5 m wide opening towards the south. Two occupation phases date to the 1st century B.C./1st century A.D. and the 2nd century A.D. At the end of the 2nd century A.D., the building was abandoned and slowly collapsed. The orientation, alignment, dimensions, and construction method link this structure with a similar one excavated about 80 m to the east by the Roman Peasant Project in 2012.

    The second area (Area 15000) presented a more complicated situation, partly caused by the overlying late Roman and medieval phases (burials). Structural evidence was found, the most notable being a well-made foundation at a depth of 1.02 m. None of the standing wall was preserved but three later walls, in opus mixtum of tiles, rounded stones, and opus (_quasi_) reticulatum _cubilia, were built directly on top of the foundation. Therefore, it is suggested that the foundation supported an opus reticulatum wall, which was demolished and the materials partially reused in later walls.
    Also worthy of note, the presence of a thick, uniform, chocolate brown coloured layer that was seen in all areas opened during this campaign but not in the 2013 excavations. Probably an alluvial formation, this layer represents deliberate levelling across the western part of the site, when construction took place in the late Republican/early Imperial period.

    The level of investment indicated by the site’s development is important for understanding the processes of innovation in the Roman economy. The finds at Marzuolo show the presence of a phase of investment and experimentation, which precedes a clear expansion and standardization of the production activity. It also shows the planned creation of a community of artisans at Marzuolo rather than its coming into being through a process of organic development.

  • Astrid Van Oyen- Cornell University (US) 


  • Astrid Van Oyen- Cornell University (US)


  • Anna Maria Mercuri- Università di Modena
  • Rhodora Vennarucci- University of Arkansas (US)
  • Gijs Tol-University of Melbourne (Australia)

Research Body

  • Cambridge University
  • Cornell University

Funding Body

  • Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies Small Grant
  • PCCW Affinito-Stewart Grant


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