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  • Marzuolo
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    Chronology

    • 100 BC - 200 AD
    • 1000 AD - 1100 AD

    Season

      • Lo scavo archeologico condotto in località Marzuolo, Cinigiano (GR), è parte del più ampio progetto “The Roman Peasant Project”, sviluppato dalle Università di Pennsylvania e Cambridge. Il sito di Marzuolo, collocato su un terrazzo fluviale a ridosso del fiume Orcia, è stato individuato nel corso delle indagini di superficie condotte nell’ambito del Progetto Carta Archeologica della Provincia di Grosseto nel 2007, anno in cui è stato indagato anche tramite scavo di emergenza. L’ampio spargimento, di circa 2,5 ettari, era stato interpretato come villaggio romano di epoca tardo repubblicana primo imperiale, con una fase di vita, l’ultima, fra II e III secolo d.C.. A seguito di un’indagine magnetometrica si aprono due aree di scavo: area 10.000 ed 11.000. L'Area 10.000 ha restituito una serie di muri riconducibili, per planimetria, ad una chiesa con orientamento ad est, navata unica, abside centrale con due _pastophoria_ laterali. Mancano i livelli pavimentali, i muri sono a livello di fondazione. Sono stati individuati solo due strati connessi con la chiesa, che hanno restituito pochi frammenti ceramici databili all’XI-XII secolo. Le fasi romane individuate nell’area 10.000 possono ricondursi a due edifici principali: uno collocato nella zona nord dell’area, probabilmente costituito da una copertura voltata retta da pilastri e colonne, collegato ad un’area artigianale per la produzione della ceramica Sigillata Italica ed un’altra manifattura di cui sono state ritrovate scorie, ad oggi non ancora identificate. All’interno della struttura, sono state rinvenute numerose forme in ceramica Sigillata Italica, integre, ancora impilate in base alla loro tipologia, che datano all’età Giulio Claudia l’ultima fase di vita della struttura. Consistenti strati di carbone testimoniano il crollo dell’edificio a seguito di un incendio. Successivo allo stoccaggio delle ceramiche in terra sigillata italica, forse quando l’edifico era ancora in vita, od immediatamente dopo il suo crollo, si imposta nella zona est un “butto” o stoccaggio di anfore databile al II secolo d.C.. Ad ovest, al di sopra degli starti di crollo si imposta una tettoia fnzionale a riparare un focolare. Nella zona sud dell’area 10.000 si individuano poi una serie di muri in opus reticulatum che suggeriscono la presenza di un edificio, successivo al primo, con forma ad L e parzialmente porticato. L’area 11.000 ha restituito il perimetro di due ambienti, fra loro adiacenti, solo uno di questi è stato interamente scavato: presenta apertura a sud, si è conservato il crollo ma solo parzialmente il livello di abbandono e un possibile battuto. Il materiale rinvenuto nel crollo data questo al III secolo d.C.. Esternamente ai due edifici si rinvengono due piccole fornaci, forse per ceramica. I resti di epoca romana rinvenuti in entrambe le aree suggeriscono un ampio e pianificato insediamento databile al I secolo a.C.. Tutti i muri di epoca romana seguono il medesimo orientamento nord-ovest/sud-est.
      • The excavations in the locality of Marzuolo, Cinignano (GR), are part of “The Roman Peasant Project”, developed by Pennsylvania and Cambridge universities. The first season (2012) uncovered Roman remains suggesting the presence of a large settlement datable to the 1st century B.C. There was evidence for the production of Italian Sigillata pottery on the site and a building in _opus_ _reticulatum_ was also present. The 2013 season had the following objectives: 1. Determine the stratigraphic relationship between the pottery production area and the _opus_ _reticulatum_ structure. 2. Define the function and size of the _opus_ _reticulatum_ building. 3. Gain an understanding of the area between 10.000 and 11.000. 4. Further study of the site’s morphology to test the hypothesis that there was a road to the south of area 11.000. The results of the excavations in areas 10.000 and 14.000 determined that: 1. Prior to the construction of the _opus_ _reticulatum_ building the area was levelled with a thick layer of clay. It is possible that US 10.092, a thick layer of clay identified in 2012 in the production area, may be the same levelling. 2. The _opus_ _reticulatum_ building presented several elements that suggest it was never completed. However, it is possible that the structure was robbed before it collapsed. 3. The function of the _opus_ _reticulatum_ building is unclear. However, the evidence suggests it was not residential and was presumably linked to the pottery production situated in the north zone. 4. The destruction layers in area 10.000 overlay the _opus_ _reticulatum_ but were not present inside it. Therefore, the _opus_ _reticulatum_ structure existed when the pottery workshop was in use, but was not necessarily destroyed when the production area burnt and collapsed. A small _sondage_ was dug south of the wide door of the structure excavated in area 11.000, in order to test for the presence of a road along the site’s southern edge. On the contrary, another courtyard area and a kiln were found. The kiln was larger than those used for firing the Italian sigillata pottery and the raised floor typical of such kilns was missing in this example. However, the fact that the structure’s upper part had not survived makes it difficult to speculate on the presence or absence of an upper chamber. Area 13.000 was opened between areas 10.00 and 11.000 in order to gain a better understanding of the function and topography of the central part of the site. The archaeological remains lay immediately below the plough soil, and a badly preserved stratigraphy was identified. A wall was uncovered on an NE/SW alignment parallel to those found in other parts of the site (US13007/13011). The alignment of wall 13.007/13.011, parallel to those in the other excavated areas, together with the geophysical evidence clearly indicates that the site was planned with all the buildings on the same alignment.
      • 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 x 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 x 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.
      • This was the second excavation campaign carried out as part of the Marzuolo Archaeological Project (MAP). The aim is to define the dynamics of rural innovation, largely absent in research on ancient economies, at regional and community level and to make comparisons with the orthodox vision of conservative roman peasants. The aim of the second campaign was to find primary evidence of pottery production. Area 17000, in the north-west zone of the site was chosen based on the find of a pile of sigillata vases here in 2012, and on the geophysical survey that showed an anomaly in this area. No kilns were identified, but the excavations confirmed the craft working function of this area. The _opus_ _reticulatum_ building discovered in 2012 was built for production purposes. There was a metalworking forge, complete with tools, a vat possibly for wine or oil production, and an _in_ _situ_ basin inside it when it was destroyed by fire in the 1st century A.D. In the south-east zone, east of area where two kilns were discovered in 2012, Area 18000 was chosen in order to gain a better understanding of the experimentation phase datable to the second half of the 1st century A.D. Unfortunately, the structures were only preserved at foundation level, and only a few occupation layers with few finds were uncovered. There was no evidence of production. Despite this, the excavation of area 18000 showed the extension of the structures in the eastern area of the site to be larger than first thought. A small quantity of domestic materials was found, revealing the presence of a different and permanent community at Marzuolo that was not just engaged in production activities. This season also saw the beginning of an archeometric study of the sigillata from Marzuolo and the sampling of possible clay sources in collaboration with the Fitch Laboratory (British School at Athens). These finds raise new research questions, all centred on innovation in a rural context. What was the importance of the relationship between artisans of various crafts in the development of new techniques? Who had been able to risk investing in the creation of an actual community of artisans? Investment in the Roman world is traditionally linked to urban communities. Despite its position in a rural environment, there is evidence indicative of substantial and continual investments in the multi-productive community at Podere Marzuolo, particularly the artificial levelling, the construction of the _opus_ _reticulatum_ industrial building, and the layout of the entire site.
      • The third campaign of the Marzuolo Archaeological Project aimed to investigate the various craftworking productions in the north-western part of the site, in order to understand both the scale and nature of the productions and their infrastructures, and to generate a useful quantity of artefacts and production materials. Two excavation areas were reopened (Fig. 1). A small trench was opened at the north edge of Area 10000 (excavated in 2012-2013) in order to finish the excavation of the stacks of Italian sigillata buried by the fire that destroyed the production area (Fig. 2). These stacks were partially uncovered at the end of 2012 (Roman Peasant Project), but its context remained unknown. The return to this area was able to associate the pottery deposit with the _opus_ _reticulatum_ structure to the north. The pottery was stacked on shelves (nails and hinges were found and their position registered) that were attached to the east face of the NE-SW wall, built with a cobblestone footing and plastered pisé walls. The later construction of the church cut the deposit. Another 150+ MNI ceramic vessels were recovered: each has been given a number, which corresponds with its position (allowing the reconstruction of the stacking of the vases). A study season will be dedicated to these materials in autumn 2019. Area 17000 was also reopened. In this area, a trench was centred on a little-known room in the production complex, and a second trench continued the exploration of the so-called smith’s workshop. The excavation of the latter completed the exceptional series of iron tools (including a saw), and metal artefacts that were being worked/recycled. A campaign in 2019 will be dedicated to the study and conservation of these objects. Two new areas were also opened, both extending the excavation of the _opus_ _reticulatum_ building, which has a back wall at least 31 m long. The plan of the complex was added to by the discovery of a carefully constructed channel, with tile covering, running along the back wall (fig. 3). The plan of Area 19000 did not replicate the large rooms opening onto a courtyard as documented to the east in Area 17000; instead, this area was occupied by a large quadrangular room. Unfortunately, the stratigraphy was only preserved at foundation level, and evidence was found that suggested the function of this sector. Area 20000, on the east side of Area 17000, provided more information about the variety of productions that took place in this complex. In particular, the room immediately east of the forge had an _opus_ _signinum_ floor and at least two cylindrical tanks, also covered with _opus_ _signinum_ (fig. 4). The function of these structures remains unknown; it will be clarified in the future by the analysis of the _opus_ _signinum_ samples that were taken. The western half of the room will be excavated in the future in order to understand the size of this installation (in theory there is space for two more tanks of the same size). The excavation of Area 20000 provided important new stratigraphic and structural evidence for the chronology of the occupation of the _opus_ _reticulatum_ building, which underwent alterations during its life of just over two generations. These alterations offer a glimpse of how the artisans occupying this area worked.
      • The Marzuolo Archaeological Project is an international research project focused on investigating the Roman-period minor rural center at Podere Marzuolo (Cinigiano, GR, Italy). The site, situated in a transitional landscape between coastal villa estates and the hilly interior occupied by small farmers, contributes to on-going scholarly debates on the nature of the rural economy, on the integration of craft and agriculture, and on cross-craft interaction. Previous seasons (2016-2018) produced evidence of multiple crafts (ceramic production, metalworking, woodworking, and agricultural production) concentrated in and around a large workshop complex in opus reticulatum masonry that was built in the northwestern sector of the site in the early 1st c. BC and destroyed while still in use by a fire in the mid-1st c. AD. In its fourth season, the Marzuolo Archaeological project focused on completing the excavation of the final SW quadrant and exterior portico area of the blacksmith’s workshop (room C; Fig. 1), which was first discovered in 2017 and partially excavated in 2017 and 2018. Geospatial recording of production waste (slag and hammerscale) confirmed the presence of two new activity areas around the threshold of the workshop where anvils and forges were most likely placed to take advantage of the light and airflow in the porch fronting the workshop. A large rectangular clay-lined pit dug into the earthen floor of the workshop and containing an organic-rich soil deposit full of animal bone, ceramic, and slag (partially excavated) might represent an earlier use phase. As in previous seasons, the remains of dividing walls constructed in wattle-and-daub and faced with fine white plaster were also discovered in the porch area (Fig. 2). These walls appear to have been used to resystematize the space when the building was repurposed for craft production in a second phase of occupation at some point after its initial construction. Excavations also uncovered a stone drain in the porch area, more evidence of how the space had been restructured in its second phase of use. The drain was built on top of a well-made but irregular stone surface in the porch, which seems to belong to the complex’s original construction since it was laid down on natural alluvial soil (Fig. 3). Ceramic, amphora, bone, slag, and soil packed down in between the stones created a more level surface for walking and working. With the completion of the excavation of the blacksmith’s workshop, the project will now focus on the conservation and study of the completed assemblage of metal tools and slag in order to develop a more nuanced understanding of production activities and processes. The spatial data recorded in the field will be analysed to reconstruct the spatial organization of production while the photogrammetry data will be used to develop an interactive 3D model of the workshop in VR. A study of the ceramic assemblage from the workshop is scheduled for spring 2020; however, the large amount of cooking pots recovered emphasize the multifunctional nature of the workshop where domestic activities mixed with production.
      • Returning to the field in 2022, the Marzuolo Archaeological Project re-opened Areas 17000 and 20000, previously explored in 2017-2019. The goal was to complete the excavations of the northern rooms in a massive _opus_ _reticulatum_ complex built in the NW zone of the site in the Augustan period. Area 17000 (Room B) yielded evidence of domestic activities (a bronze figurine of Minerva, a bone stilus, etc.) and storage (in situ amphorae) in phase with the blacksmith workshop that occupied Room C. Moreover, phases preceding construction of the _opus_ _reticulatum_ complex were identified for the first time, including a metalworking station and a trench of unknown function, whose materials may produce a more precise date for the complex’s construction. In Area 20000 (Room D), evidence was found to suggest that parts of the complex were reoccupied shortly after its destruction by a fire in the mid-1st century AD. Of particular interest are the discoveries of two successive drains, one of which appears to have been installed when the room functioned as a cella vinaria, and a section of opus spicatum flooring that belonged to the last phases of the room’s occupation. A new Area, 21000, was opened in the southwestern zone of the site where magnetometery indicated the presence of a second substantial masonry structure on the same alignment as the northern _opus_ _reticulatum_ complex. Excavations confirmed the presence of a second structure with a well-preserved stratigraphy representing periods of occupation and abandonment that date from the 1st century BC to the medieval period. This stratigraphic sequence will help refine the site’s chronology as a whole and adds crucial information about the activities in the Late Roman and Post-Roman phases. The most remarkable discovery of Area 21000, however, was the opening of a well in use in the Roman period. Hitherto no evidence concerning the on-site storage or supply of water had been found.
      • In July 2023, MAP returned to the field for its 6th season of excavation. The project reopened Area 21000 where in 2022 the remains of a circular installation built with large limestones bonded with abundant mortar were discovered inside a large masonry structure. This year’s investigation confirmed that this installation functioned as a Roman well, which had a rectangular external shape and a circular internal one with a diameter of ca. 1 m. Additionally, a new Area 22000 was opened directly to the west of Area 21000 to expand the investigations of this zone and to understand the phasing and function of a large NW-SE structure with rooms opening to the SW. Three new rooms were documented to the west of the room with the well. The structure seems to have had two phases: an initial construction phase (1st c. B.C. to the 1st c. A.D.) and a second phase during which the rooms were filled with earth mixed with materials from a dump, presumably to raise the level of the floors, and the walls were partially rebuilt with mortar (after the end of the 1st c. B.C. to the mid-1st c. A.D.). Finally, a small sondage was reopened in Area 10000 inside the apse of the medieval church that was partially excavated by the Roman Peasant Project in 2012. We returned to this Area with the goal of exploring the eastern portico of the opus reticulatum complex, whose northern wing we excavated in previous seasons. Here we once again encountered evidence of the violent fire that destroyed the complex in the mid-1st c. A.D. Under a thick layer of mudbrick collapse, excavators recovered agricultural tools (e.g., a sickle), which seem to have been stored here at the time of the fire.

    FOLD&R

      • Emanuele Vaccaro- Università di Siena, Kimberly Bowes, Mariaelena Ghisleni- Laboratorio di Archeologia dei Paesaggi e Telerilevamento Università di Siena. 2019. Tombarelle (Cinigiano, GR), parte I: la survey, lo scavo, le ceramiche di età tardo-repubblicana e primo-imperiale . FOLD&R Italy: 441.

    Bibliography

      • E. Vaccaro, C. Capelli, M. Ghisleni. 2017. Italic sigillata production and trade in rural Central Italy: new data from the project ‘Excavating the Roman Peasant’. In T.C.A. De Haas and G.W. Tol, a cura di. The Economic Integration of Roman Italy. Rural Communities in a Globalizing World. Leiden-Boston: Brill, 231–262.
      • A.Van Oyen, 2015. The Roman city as articulated through terra sigillata, Oxford Journal of Archaeology 34(3), 279–299.
      • K.Bowes, M. Ghisleni, C. Grey, E. Vaccaro, 2013. Cinigiano (GR). Il sito di Marzuolo: quarto anno del Roman Peasant Project, Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana 8, 601-604.
      • A. Van Oyen, c.d.s., Innovation and investment in the Roman rural economy through the lens of Marzuolo (Tuscany, Italy). Past and Present.
      • A. Van Oyen, R.G. Vennarucci and G.W. Tol., c.d.s., The missing link: a nucleated rural centre at Podere Marzuolo (Cinigiano, GR). In A. Sebastiani and C. Megale, eds. Mediterraneo Toscana. Turnhout: Brepols.
      • A. Van Oyen, R.G. Vennarucci, A.L. Fischetti and G.W. Tol. c.d.s., Un centro artigianale di epoca romana: terzo anno di scavo a Podere Marzuolo (Cinigiano, GR). Bollettino di Archeologia Online.
      • R.G. Vennarucci, A. Van Oyen, G.W. Tol., 2018, Cinigiano (GR), Una comunità artigianale nella Toscana rurale: il sito di Marzuolo. In V. Nizzo and A. Pizzo, eds. Antico e non antico. Scritti multidisciplinari offerti a Giuseppe Pucci. Sesto San Giovanni: Mimesis Edizioni, 589–597.