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The Nordic Excavations of a Roman Villa by Lake Nemi, loc. S. Maria (1998-2002)

List of preliminary publications here
Thanks to a generous grant from the Carlsberg Foundation, the preparation of the final volume of the publication of the Nordic Excavations of a Roman Villa by Lake Nemi is now in progress. The first volume, edited by Mette Moltesen and Birte Poulsen in collaboration with Kristine Bøggild Johannsen, dealing with the archaeological finds of the villa, appeared in 2010 (www.acdan.it/dansk/udgiv Lake Nemi.htm).
The second volume will deal with the architecture, the architectural elements, the floors, the Emissary, and the trenches of the villa.
The team consists of archaeologists from the Nordic countries. Contributors to the publication are Ria Berg, Kristine Bülow Clausen, Harri Kiiskinen, Mette Moltesen, Birte Poulsen, Charlotte Hollegaard Steffensen, Eeva-Maria Viitanen, and Jan Zahle.

Fig. 1 – Lake Nemi, view towards the villa on the south-western shore (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 2 – Plan of the villa with trenches (Harri Kiiskinen)

Fig. 3 – Plan of villa with designations of structures (Harri Kiiskinen)

The villa is situated on a large artificial terrace (the basis villa) on the south-western shore of Lake Nemi measuring at least 260 by 60 m. It contains clear architectural features, e.g., an exedra, a large peristyles, baths and a large cistern. According to the archaeological finds, the villa was richly decorated with marbles from all parts of the Roman Empire. The villa has several building phases from the late Republican to the mid 2nd century and seems to be a pure otium villa of a type known especially from Campania.

Fig. 4 – Road leading to the Bath (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 5 – Work on the site with Pia Guldager Bilde, Steffen Ledet Christiansen and Mette Hermannsen (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 6 – Kristine Bülow Clausen in Trench DA, a room with an opus sectile floor (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 7 – Trench DD. Room with mosaic floor showing birds and signed by the mosaicist: M PA(V)IMENTUM FECIT (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 8 – Trench DB. Small peristyle seen from the south (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 9 – James Schryver explains the structures of Trench CB (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 10 – Pia Guldager Bilde and students in the exedra (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 11 – Trench DD. Column built of reused tiles including one with the stamp of the ATI (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 12 – Remains of an opus sectile floor (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 13 – Fragment of a stucco cornice (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 14 – Fragment of stucco from trench EK (EK 8.5. 189, 202, 232) (Ole Haupt)

Moreover, the finds show human activity in the area long before the existence of the villa and again during Late Antiquity and the Medieval period.

Fig. 15 – Finds and architectural terracottas from the villa (Gunnar Ellingsen)


Fig. 16 – A selection of finds from the villa arranged according to chronology (Gunnar Ellingsen)

The villa seems closely related both to the lake and to the well-known Emissary, which regulated the water level of the lake. The strategic position near the road leading to the Sanctuary of Diana also emphasizes the importance of the villa and its owners. The owners might well have been imperial considering the position of the villa directly on the shore of the lake and might well have served as a base for the floating palaces of the emperor Caligula.
The excavations took place over five field campaigns during the years 1998-2002 and were a collaboration between the four Nordic Institutes in Rome in close cooperation with the Soprintendenza Archeologica per il Lazio. The project was financially supported mainly by the Danish Carlsberg Foundation, the Swedish Fondazione Famiglia Rausing and the Joint Committee of the Nordic Research Council for the Humanities (NOSH).