Italian Journal of Geosciences - Vol. 135 (2016) f.2

Provenance study of building and statuary marbles from the Roman archaeological site of "Villa dei Quintili" (Rome, Italy)

Cristina Maria Belfiore (1), Michela Ricca (2), Mauro Francesco La Russa (2), Silvestro Antonio Ruffolo (2), Giuliana Galli (3), Donatella Barca (2), Marco Malagodi (4), Mattia Vallefuoco (5), Mario Sprovieri (6) & Antonino Pezzino (1)
(1) Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali, University of Catania, Corso Italia, 57 - 95129 Catania, Italy. Corresponding author e-mail:; Phone +39 0957195736; Fax +39 0957195760.
(2) Dipartimento di Biologia, Ecologia e Scienze della Terra (DiBEST), University of Calabria, Via Pietro Bucci - 87036 Arcavacata di Rende (CS), Italy.
(3) Archaeologist Assistant to the Scientific Direction of Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma, Villa dei Quintili, via Appia Nuova, 1092 - 00197 Roma, Italy.
(4) Dipartimento di Chimica, University of Pavia, Via Taramelli, 12 - 27100 Pavia, Italy.
(5) Istituto per l'Ambiente Marino Costiero IAMC-CNR, Calata Porta di Massa, interno Porto di Napoli - 80133 Napoli, Italy.
(6) Istituto per l'Ambiente Marino Costiero IAMC-CNR, Via del Mare, 3 - 91021 Torretta Granitola (TP), Italy.

Volume: 135 (2016) f.2
Pages: 236-249


The present work represents the first study addressed to the provenance attribution of marbles from the Villa dei Quintili, an important Roman archaeological site located in the south-eastern area of Rome (Italy). The monumental villa was built in the 2nd century A.D. at the behest of the brothers Sesto Quintilio Condiano and Sesto Quintilio Valerio Massimo. Later (182 A.D.), the Emperor Commodus confiscated the villa, transforming it into an imperial residence until the 3rd century A.D. Different analytical techniques, including polarized optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive spectrometry (SEM-EDS), carbon and oxygen stable isotope ratio determinations, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and X-ray diffraction, were used to identify the provenance sources of seventeen white marble samples belonging to statues, covering slabs and architectural elements of the villa. For such a purpose, data obtained were compared with existing databases relative to white marbles commonly used in antiquity collected from historic quarries in the Mediterranean area.
Results show that several precious marbles from different Mediterranean sites were used for the statuary as well as for decorative and architectural elements of the Villa thus remarking the importance of the archaeological site.


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