Water Hist (2012) 4:57–78 DOI 10.

1007/s12685-012-0055-x

Water and the display of power in Augustan Rome: the so-called ‘Villa Claudia’ at Anguillara Sabazia
Edmund Thomas

Received: 5 November 2011 / Accepted: 20 January 2012 / Published online: 28 March 2012 Ó Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2012

Abstract This article re-considers the architecture of the Roman villa site at Anguillara Sabazia (Lazio (RM), Italy). It is argued that the villa should be dated to the Augustan period, rather than the late Republic, and that its elaborate ornamental water features, including fountains arranged in an elliptical curve, were supplied by the Augustan aqueduct, the Aqua Alsietina, also known as the Aqua Augusta, either directly, or through a subsidiary branch off the main conduit. Its particular elliptical form, unique in Roman villa architecture at that time, may be explained as a small-scale version of the imperial pool (Stagnum) created in 2 BC for the Emperor Augustus’s recreation of sea-battles (Naumachia Augusti) in the modern district of Trastevere, which was the eventual destination of the aqueduct. There is no firm evidence for the owner of the villa, but a fragment of an honorific inscription from the site suggests a high-ranking ex-consul from the family of the Cornelii, possibly connected with the water administration (Cura Aquarum) in Rome. Keywords Villas Á Aqueducts Á Fountains Á Aqua Alsietina Á Elliptical shape Á Sea-battles Á Naumachia Á Opus reticulatum Á Opus mixtum Á Roman architecture

Introduction ‘A name so special, it just had to have an extraordinary history’: this is how today they sell the popular brand of mineral water called Acqua Claudia, ‘the Fountain of Pleasure’ (http://www.gruppobse.it/claudia.html). ‘What is so precious about it is that it is utterly clear, light and fresh. It has no smell, but to the taste gives a slight impression of graceful mineral acid. It pleases every palate, is the friend of every stomach, and suits any age, sex, temperament or season of the year.’ That was how it was recommended by a monk of the Jacometti family—the same family as the famous sculptor Giacometti—at Anguillara Sabazia in 1770. One hundred years ago, 1909, saw its first marketing, leading to the twotier plastic bottle from which hundreds of archaeologists have slaked their thirst with its
E. Thomas (&) Ancient Visual and Material Culture, Durham University, 38 North Bailey, Durham DH1 3EU, UK e-mail: e.v.thomas@durham.ac.uk

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naturally fizzy contents; the year 2009 saw its acquisition by the BSE Group (Business Service Express, 65% owners of the Tione group) who call themselves ‘emotions’ healthy bearers’. Some derive the water’s modern name from the nearby Via Clodia (or Claudia), others (whom the bottle-makers prefer to follow) from ‘the hot springs of the emperor Claudius’. The water comes from a spring at the site, producing naturally gaseous water at 22–23°C, a medium mineral water with a balanced content of salts. The right input, its new owners advertise, ‘is essential for our physiological well-being and for the performance of natural functions’. In short, it is ‘ideal water for people who love each other’. ‘Going to the establishment of Claudia,’ we are told, ‘is like diving in the past: a Roman villa, age-old trees… you breathe the history…’ Each of the staff ‘feels part of living and helps with the experience and consistency, to preserve a unique heritage’. Concealed within the grounds of the plant, some 20 miles north of Rome (Fig. 1), a few miles from Lake Bracciano, and near the small village of Anguillara Sabazia, lie the remains of a Roman building. The structures, excavated in 1934, have nothing to do with the Emperor Claudius. Instead, they have been identified with the remnants of a late Republican villa, which helped to give the mineral water its healthy, classical, but of course totally bogus name (Vighi 1940, 1941). In the early 1980s, the site was the object of passing interest from the British School at Rome’s South Etruria Survey, and it has since been briefly studied by the architect Mantha Zarmakoupi, who highlighted its architectural interest, comparing it to modernist buildings (Zarmakoupi 2005). However, while business flourishes at its capitalist neighbour, the grass continues to grow over the Roman site (Fig. 2), which still awaits a proper reconsideration. This article presents a preliminary assessment of the site in terms of its water usage and display. In this microcosmic study, I hope to draw out some wider issues of water management and irrigation, and their associations with structures of power and purposes of display.

Fig. 1 Plan of northern Latium showing (from left to right) the Lacus Sabatinus (Lake Bracciano), Lacus Alsietinus (Lake Martignano) and the Stracciacappe basin (now dry). The hatched line running south-west of the Lacus Alsietinus shows the probable course of the Aqua Alsietina. The numbers refer to the following features: 78 outlet of the aqueduct; 63 and 68 access shafts; 62 and 94 villa sites; 117 tombs. The ‘Villa Claudia’ is situated just off the map, below and to the left of number 68 (Accardo et al. 2007, pl. 8a)

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Fig. 2 The ‘Villa Claudia’, present state (2005) (Photo: Mantha Zarmakoupi)

The Sabatine district north-west of Rome (Fig. 1) is dominated by the lakes formed from former volcanic craters: the largest, Lake Bracciano (the Roman Lacus Sabatinus), at 164 m.a.s.l. with a circumference of some 20 miles and a depth of up to 160 m; the smaller Lake Martignano (ancient Lacus Alsietinus), at 207 m.a.s.l. and a maximum depth of 153 m; but also, in antiquity, other water bodies which have subsequently dried up as a result of substantial geomorphological changes, including the ancient Lacus Papirianus (Stracciacappe), which dried up around 1830, and another basin formerly at Lagusiello (Cordiano 2007, pp. 21, 87, no. 16). The soil surface of the region is predominantly tufa. The naturally sparkling water bottled by the modern Acqua Claudia comes from one of the volcanic springs of the Vulcani Sabatini. The main water course through the region is the Arrone stream, which runs south-eastwards from Lake Bracciano for 37 km to its outlet in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of the Tiber estuary. The main road artery through this area in the Roman period was the Via Clodia, the principal route northward from Rome to Etruria, pausing at Forum Clodii (modern Bracciano) at the southern end of the Lacus Sabatinus (Hemphill 1975). The landscape around this route was heavily occupied from the fourth century and especially in the second and first centuries BC, when villa properties clustered around the lakes.

The ‘Villa Claudia’ at Anguillara Sabazia The so-called ‘Villa Claudia’ is situated 4 km south-east of Anguillara Sabazia on the south-eastern shore of Lake Bracciano and a little over 4 km south-south-west of Lake Martignano. Like many other sites in the region, it was apparently approached by an access road from the Via Clodia to the south, remains of which were found to the east of the site. As can be clearly made out from a satellite view in Google Earth, the principal remains of the villa consist of a curved structure with a corridor behind and a rectangular end (Fig. 3). Until a new survey of the site can be carried out, we are still dependent for details on Roberto Vighi’s publications of the 1934 excavations (Vighi 1940, 1941). The buildings, orientated from north-west to south-east, are set on a sloping terrain and built on three separate levels. In the lowest part is an impressive curvilinear fac ¸ ade in the

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Fig. 3 The ‘Villa Claudia’, site plan (Vighi 1940, pl. IV)

Fig. 4 The ‘Villa Claudia’, site view from above, from north-east (Photo: Mantha Zarmakoupi)

arc of a circle (Fig. 4). The left half and a few adjacent rooms were completely exposed by the excavations, but the right half is restored on the assumption of a symmetrical arrangement, corresponding to the ideal of axial symmetry which is evident in Roman planning. This great curve, originally extending to a chord of about 87 m long at the base, would thus have been punctuated by 42 semi-circular niches faced with reticulate masonry (of which 21 have been exposed) (Fig. 5), each 1.80 m in diameter and linked by engaged half-columns in reticulate and brick facing (Fig. 6). At the centre, the niches are interrupted by a doorway 1.90 m wide, framed on the outer side by the two half-columns of the adjacent niches: the half-columns are each 45 cm in diameter, and the piers 60 cm wide. Column drums found in the excavation, each 36 cm in diameter and similar in construction technique and proportions to the half-columns, show that above the half-columns originally stood an upper order of columns of four-fifths the size. At the centre of each niche, a small window opened in the wall, 0.60 m wide to 1.20 m above the ground; below this was inserted, in a hole in the pavement, a large terracotta vase (Fig. 7). The bases of some vases

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Fig. 5 The ‘Villa Claudia’, niches of the curvilinear fac ¸ ade, view from south-east (Photo: Mantha Zarmakoupi)

Fig. 6 The ‘Villa Claudia’, detail of niches of the curvilinear fac ¸ ade (Photo: Mantha Zarmakoupi)

were found in situ. Very small traces of cocciopesto plaster used as revetment of the niche walls suggested that such vases were designed to receive water from a fountain spout above, contributing together to a sumptuous water display. Behind this outer wall of niches and parallel to it runs an ambulatory (Figs. 8, 3a), 3.77 m wide, which was lit by a series of windows and is believed to have been roofed by wooden beams, because of the thinness of the walls (0.50 m for the outer wall with niches, and 0.60 m for the inner wall). It was approached from the outer curve through a central door and two smaller doors in place of windows in the outermost niches, and from the interior rooms above by both stairs and a ramp. The inner wall of the ambulatory, preserved up to a height of 4.70 m, buttressed the cutting of the terrain, and so constituted the foundation of the structures above. The small windows in the outer wall offered a view from behind of the water displays outside.

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Fig. 8 The ‘Villa Claudia’, ambulatory from above, view from north (Photo: Mantha Zarmakoupi)

The end of the hemicycle is closed, again it is assumed on each side, by a rectangular space, entered from the bottom of the ambulatory (Fig. 3b), with large windows in the side walls (Fig. 9). It is identified by Vighi (1940, p. 400) as a nymphaeum, because in the centre of the back wall is a slight projection, 1.72 m wide and projecting by about 15 cm, which could be considered the back of an aedicule or other decorative element. At the centre of this space seems to have been a pergola, open to the sky, to which apparently belonged a travertine column, 3 m high and tapering towards the top. The floor of the pergola is slightly lower than the adjacent ambulatory and separated from it by a low wall.

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Fig. 9 The ‘Villa Claudia’, pergola, view from north-east (Photo: Mantha Zarmakoupi)

Fig. 10 The ‘Villa Claudia’, detail of pergola, showing cascade (Photo: Mantha Zarmakoupi)

On this wall rough rectangular blocks of tufa were laid at a later date, on top of which four L-shaped bases at the corners supported columns or piers. The resulting pergola arrangement is familiar from garden design at Pompeii, for example in the House of Octavius Quartio (II.2.2) or the Villa of Diomedes (Jashemski 1979–1993). Below the pergola was a fountain with a system of water effects, which Vighi did not describe in detail because of the poor state of preservation. On the floor opened an elongated rectangular pool (5.70 m long), which ended at the bottom in a broad, curved end (diam. 1.20 m) and opened below the pergola with four steps leading down from the latter; these seem to be the remains of a cascade falling more than 1.70 m to the pool below (Fig. 10). Below the steps at the centre are the outlets of a U-shaped channel which goes under the floor of the pergola; above, the pergola is framed by two rectilinear walls, each framed by half-columns. Under the pool again is a channel parallel to and between the two arms of the U-shaped channel; two holes open into this channel, a large arched one opens

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at the back of the pool and a small hole in the third step of the cascade, while water also flowed into the curved part of the channel through three small holes in the curved extension of the pool. From foundation walls observed in the zone in front of the fac ¸ ade of the ‘nymphaeum’, Vighi argued (1940, p. 401) that there was a second pool in front of it, at a level below the hemicycle, into which the waters of the fountain and the channel fell. Beside the ‘nymphaeum’ a short rectilinear corridor (Fig. 3c) forms a continuation of the semi-circular ambulatory. Four doors open off this corridor: on the left, into the nymphaeum; at the rear, leading outside the villa; and two on the right, of which one opened onto a staircase leading to the upper floor, 1.22 m wide supported by an arcade, and the other into a service area (Fig. 3d) containing a well and a millstone. Just before the centre of the semi-circular ambulatory Vighi found a large door with preserved lintel, which led on the right to a staircase and on the left to a ramp, both giving access to the upper floors. The ramp, 1.18 m wide, is a bold and remarkably modern design comparable to that at the Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier (Zarmakoupi 2005, p. 5). It was lit by two windows opening in the inner wall of the walkway and ended at the top in a short staircase on the left and a door on the right. The staircase, with three treads 1.18 m wide, originally led to the second floor of the hemicycle. To the right of the door of the staircase is a room (Fig. 3f) with mosaic pavement, only partly visible, with a large window looking over the ambulatory; access to this room must have been at the central entrance of the large exedra which was not exposed in Vighi’s excavations. The floor is covered by a late Roman mosaic with large tesserae, decorated in panels 74 cm square containing various designs including ivy leaves, olive branches and a chalice (Vighi 1940, p. 408 Fig. 11). The site showed other signs of later occupation. Two tombs were cut into the floor at a later date, of which the skeletons survived but no grave-goods. At the time of the excavations the room itself was interrupted on the right by the walls of a modern farm building rising at the centre of the exedra; this has since been demolished. The farm building was built over ancient structures: within it two sections of thick walls were still visible in Vighi’s explorations, linked by a segmental vault 3.70 m wide, at a corner of which the trace of a cross-vault can be observed. These are the remains of a central nucleus at the middle of the curvilinear fac ¸ ade, which was approached from the large door on the main axis of the hemicycle. At the front of the second floor were the living quarters, now lost, which looked over the exedra and then extended along the slope of the hill. The upper floor extended to the top of the slope, but only the foundations of some rooms survive, apart from the walls of a large room with water tank which was the limit of Vighi’s excavations. The floor of this room (Fig. 3h), 5.30 m by 12.50 m, is paved with a black-and-white mosaic with a border formed by two white strips. The water tank, excavated at a later date at the bottom of the vault, is 3.70 m long by 1.20 m wide and 1.60 m deep; it is lined with poor-quality brick and tile, covered with plaster and cocciopesto. Another door, symmetrical to the one still used in the left wall, was walled up, presumably when the tank was opened (Vighi 1940, pp. 403–405). On the same level as this room and to the west extended a vast, walled area (Fig. 3p) paved with polygonal stones, estimated by Vighi as about 7 m by 8.70 m. Its function could not be identified because of the incomplete nature of the excavation, but Vighi suggested that it was an open square giving access to the villa from the side or an inner courtyard for agricultural use. On an intermediate level, half-hidden above the curved exedra and rooms C and D, but below room H and the paved area P, were various service areas, approached from the south-west by a corridor with descending staircase (I). The corridor opened through a door with a monolithic tufa lintel, into a room L, which presented in the right wall a wide segmental arch with an opening of 4 m that originally

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perhaps supported a stairway to the upper floor. Off the same room opened a rectangular water reservoir (M), 1.60 m high, with plastered waterproofed walls and a door with monolithic tufa jambs and lintel originally closed by a shutter. Above, behind the back door of this cistern, runs a masonry conduit, cut into the pavement of the floor above. Vighi was certain that this conduit, which contained a lead pipe, was connected to the reservoir (Vighi 1940, p. 406). Two vaulted rooms (N and O), on the other side of the corridor I, were left partly interred. In the highest part of the site, above the unexcavated right-hand side of the hemicycle, are the remains of an imposing round cistern 23 m in diameter (Fig. 11). It is formed of two thick concentric walls (the outer one 60 cm thick, the inner one 50 cm thick) and a central pier 1.50 m in diameter. Assuming a depth of 2 m, this would have had a capacity of over 600 m3, which would put it at one of the largest in South Etruria, enormous even by the grand standards of villas in the hinterland of Rome (Wilson 2009, pp. 735–736 Fig. 3). The walls are of unfaced opus caementicium with small flakes of selce; traces remain of the revetment in cocciopesto. In both the annular corridors the springing of the vaults that covered them are clearly visible. Between the cistern and the rest of the site were found fragments of coarse lead pipes. All around, the level of pozzolana on which the reservoir was built is intersected by tunnels (cuniculi). Their direction could not be identified by Vighi because of the profound modifications to the terrain caused by the modern buildings and by the trench dug for the nearby railway, but it was clear to him that they channelled water into the cistern, which then supplied, through the lead pipes, the water basins, fountains and other water features below (Vighi 1940, p. 406). In short, the site provides a rare surviving example of the ambitious garden architecture attested in ancient Roman literature. On probably either side of an extensive curvilinear wall adorned not with statues but with large terracotta pots, filled by fountain jets gushing out from the niches, rectangular projections presented fountain displays from a pergola, with water flowing through a central channel and cascading into a pool, with possibly a further pool below that (Vighi 1940, pp. 398–400). All this could be viewed, in a theatrelike manner, from the upper storeys where the living and reception rooms must have been
Fig. 11 The ‘Villa Claudia’, plan of circular cistern (Vighi 1940, p. 416 Fig. 18)

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situated and through the windows of the ambulatory. But even these sophisticated architectural elements can have been just one aspect of a remarkable villa landscape: by contrast with the rather austere appearance of the surrounding region, the palm trees, mimosas and other exotic plants still growing here give a very luxuriant impression.

The water supply of the villa, and the aqueducts of northern Latium There is no certain evidence for how the fountains and gardens of this Roman site were supplied. Vighi attributed the unusually lush and sub-tropical vegetation to the springs exploited by the mineral water company today. These are located about 100 m to the south of the site and lower down the slope, so could hardly have supplied the site. Moreover, as the modern water companies admit, its health-giving waters were only recognized from the second half of the eighteenth century. (Hence, presumably, Brother Jacometti’s effusive delight.) But the remains of lead piping between the massive round cistern at the top of the site and the water features below provide strongly circumstantial evidence. It would have taken a substantial and regular flow of running water to feed ornamental fountains and water displays of this nature (Thomas and Wilson 1994, p. 160), and the cistern’s vast capacity of over 600 m3 was well-placed to deliver it. The remains of cuniculi around the round cistern show that a considerable and well-organized supply had been channelled to the site. But from where was the water channelled into this cistern? It seems almost unavoidable that the water displays and garden irrigation of the luxuriant ‘Villa Claudia’ site, not to mention its two smaller domestic cisterns, were supplied by an aqueduct. Which one? Two aqueducts brought water through this region of northern Latium in antiquity from the lakes to Rome: the Aqua Traiana (later used by the Renaissance Acqua Paola), inaugurated by the emperor Trajan (AD 98–117), which brought water from Lake Bracciano to the west (Ashby 1935, pp. 299–307); and the Aqua Augusta of Augustus (27 BC–AD 14), which was also known as the Aqua Alsietina after the Lacus Alsietinus (Lago di Martignano) from where it was fed (Ashby 1935, pp. 182–189). The latter’s original name ˆ ce of Augustus’s restoration of suggests that it might have been intended as the coup de gra Rome’s water supplies: it could have been proudly conceived, and promoted in contemporary ideology, as exploiting a new source, not the Alban hills to the south-east, from where all of Rome’s previous aqueducts had been channelled, but the lakes to the northwest of Rome. Its name, like that of the new branch of the Aqua Marcia (Frontinus, Aq. 12), echoes other aqueducts newly installed under Augustus in Italian and provincial towns. But, at a little over 200 m above sea level at its highest point, neither lake was an obvious source for bringing water to Rome, particularly in comparison with the Alban hills. We know from Frontinus that the supply was a failure as a provider of healthy drinking water: I cannot for the life of me see what reason led Augustus, an emperor of extreme forethought, to channel the water of Alsietinus that is called the Aqua Augusta, which has nothing attractive about it and is even unhealthy and for that reason does not run anywhere for popular consumption; unless perhaps when he took on the construction of the Naumachia he channelled this supply separately so that it would not spoil the healthier water supplies and granted the surplus from the Naumachia to the adjacent gardens and the use of private individuals for irrigation. But there is a habit of using its water in an emergency to supply the public fountains in the district

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across the Tiber, whenever the bridges are being repaired and the water supplies from this side of the river are cut off. (Frontinus, Aq. 11). Frontinus also records that the aqueduct had a total length of 22,172 paces (just under 33 km), travelling underground for all but 358 paces (about 532 m) where it was supported by arches (Aq. 11). The arcades most likely stood in its final section, within Rome, as partly demonstrated on the Severan marble plan (Petzalis-Diomidis 2007). However, the aqueduct’s extra-urban course is notoriously difficult to trace (Liberati Silverio 1986, p. 74). The route given by Antonio Nibby (1837) cannot be accepted because of the terrain (Ashby 1935, pp. 185–188). The presence in the same area of the Trajanic and Paulian channels makes it hard to be sure that the remains of channels here belonged to the Augustan supply. The situation is further complicated by the considerable environmental changes since antiquity: first, the waters of Lake Martignano dropped in the later imperial period and in the early middle ages rose back to the Augustan level, as can be seen from the submerging of oak trees c. AD 500 (Moccheggiani Carpano 1986, p. 59; Ferri Ricchi 1972, 1974; Cosentino Marconi 1995, p. 105); and, subsequently, the drying up of the neighbouring basin of Stracciacappe c. 1830 and partial drying up of Lake Martignano, which lowered its level by 12 m (Liberati Silverio 1986, p. 73). Frontinus indicates that the source of the Alsietina/Augusta was Lake Alsietinus (Lake Martignano), ‘six and a half miles along a road branching right at the fourteenth mile of the Via Clodia’ (Aq. 11). An opening into the channel on the southern shore of Lake Martignano corresponding to this topographical location (Accardo et al. 2007, pp. 184–186, pl. 8a: no. 78) was seen in the nineteenth century, rediscovered in the 1970s, and still visible in the 1980s; it appears to have an artificial outlet (emissarium) constructed for the Aqua Augusta (Burri 2006). Pits found just to the south-east of Monte Maiale seem to be access shafts for maintenance to the same aqueduct (Accardo et al. 2007, pl. 8a: nos. 63 and 68). This suggests that the aqueduct followed a route heading roughly south-south-westwards from Lake Martignano towards the Arrone stream along the Fosso Formelluzzo, which was later used as a conduit for the Aqua Traiana. The greater part of the aqueduct’s fall from its source must have occurred in this initial section of its course. Villa sites along this route— at Colonnetta (IGM 276649) and Casale Terraline (IGM 276865) (Accardo et al. 2007, pp. 165 no. 51 and 168 no. 55)—might also have tapped this source for the purposes of irrigation. At any rate, Frontinus indicates that the delivery of the aqueduct—392 quinariae, equivalent to 16,228 m3 in 2 h—was used entirely outside the city (De Aq. II.85; Ashby 1935, p. 183). The recently published survey of archaeology around the lake shores ends just north of the ‘Villa Claudia’, but the map of its course suggests that the aqueduct’s underground channel would have passed very close to the site (Accardo et al. 2007, foldout map). From Frontinus we know that the Naumachia Augusti in Trans Tiberim was inaugurated by Augustus in 2 BC and supplied by the Aqua Augusta (Taylor 2000; Rodgers 2004, pp. 235–236). Yet he gives no precise measurements of the volume of water that it provided at its intake or at its reservoir, as he does for the other aqueducts of Rome, noting that such a measurement was neither given in the records nor able to be discovered for certain in the present situation since it gets from Lake Alsietinus (Martignano) and then from Lake Sabatinus (Bracciano) around Careiae ‘as much as the watermen (aquarii) have arranged’ (Aq. II.71). Thus it appears that already by the end of the first century AD, although the water was still being used as an emergency supply for the public fountains in the Trans Tiberim district and for irrigation of private gardens, the measure of volume flow from the aqueduct was no longer recorded, perhaps because it could no longer be

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determined. What had happened in the meantime? One distinct possibility is that the waters of Lake Martignano had dropped significantly, as the opening of the Aqua Alsietina was found in the 1970s 12 m above the present level (Cordiano 2007). In addition, the access passage (1.80 9 0.40 cm), which was excavated in the tufa, its walls and base quite wellworn by hydraulic erosion, and partially obstructed by subsequent collapses, presented at about 50 m from the opening a lower linking passage off-axis, but characterised only by slight beginnings of erosion. This attempt to lower the level at which the water was drawn, made by excavating this new passage probably at some point in the first half of the first century AD, had not had any great effect, since the new variant to the main conduit also remained dry (Cordiano 2007). In the 1970s, it was possible to enter some 200 m into the main passageway (Accardo et al. 2007, p. 185). The supply had also been supplemented by a branch from Lake Bracciano. It is no surprise that only a few years after Frontinus wrote, and still within the reign of Trajan, a new, more effective supply to the western suburbs of Rome was introduced, entirely from the larger Lake Bracciano, the Aqua Traiana. Also following the Arrone valley, it may well have re-used old channels of the now defunct Aqua Alsietina for much of its course towards Rome. It was perhaps the unsanitary use of the older aqueduct for public drinking fountains mentioned by Frontinus which brought about its replacement.

The date of the ‘Villa Claudia’ Topography then points to an association of the ‘Villa Claudia’ with the Aqua Augusta/ Alsietina, especially as we know from Frontinus that one of its principal uses was for the irrigation of gardens in the suburbs of Rome. There is now abundant evidence for the use of the principal aqueducts bringing water to Rome to supply also villas and towns in the rural districts through which they passed (Evans 1993; Thomas and Wilson 1994; Wilson 2009). The elaborate fountain structure of the ‘Villa Claudia’ could have been supplied by the Aqua Augusta/Alsietina for both irrigation of the gardens in front of it and ornamental display in itself. A potential stumbling-block to this interpretation has always been the date. Vighi dated the remains to the late Republican era, ‘just after the middle of the 1st century BC’ (Vighi 1940, pp. 410, 418), but at any rate well before the water was channelled from Lacus Alsietinus. Subsequent scholars have accepted that the building dates from the time of Sulla, the second decade of the first century BC (Van Aken 1951). Vighi’s date is founded on the construction technique used. In particular, the walls of mortared rubble concrete are faced with small blocks of selce of pyramidal form in the ‘net-like’ arrangement known in ancient sources as opus reticulatum (Vitruvius, De arch. 2.8.1). Vighi described the version of this technique used in the ‘Villa Claudia’ as ‘opus quasi reticulatum’ (Vighi 1941, p. 146), a label that suggests that it lacked the regularity of classic examples like the Theatre of Pompey (c. 60–55 BC) and dated from an earlier time. But the justification for placing the walls of the ‘Villa Claudia’ in this purely modern category is thin, since, unlike other examples from outside Rome where the presence of a regular grid of stones laid in a diamond pattern is less clear (e.g. the city walls at Ostia and the Forum Baths in Pompeii), here the facing shows a precise interlocking of small tufa blocks of standard size laid with a regularity (Fig. 12) which is even comparable to examples from Rome of the Augustan period (e.g. the Mausoleum of Augustus and Theatre of Marcellus). However, the technique is now recognized over a much broader area, in both time and space, than it was in Vighi’s time. Reflecting a greater rationalization in the building industry which gained ground in the first half of the first century BC, opus

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Fig. 12 The ‘Villa Claudia’, detail of back wall of ambulatory, showing opus reticulatum masonry facing (Photo: Mantha Zarmakoupi)

reticulatum was adopted as a facing for walls of mortared rubble or concrete almost universally in towns and villas in central Italy between the middle of the first century BC and the middle of the following century, especially along major road and river systems (Torelli 1995, p. 219). This gives much less grounds for confidence that the walls of the ‘Villa Claudia’ belonged to the late Republican period. But there is reason to place them even as late as the later Augustan period. The integrated combination of reticulate facing with brick courses, found in the half-columns of the hemicycle, does not generally occur before the Augustan period (Lugli 1957, pp. 505–507). Indeed, although the late Republican date has passed into the most recent literature, the facing sometimes described even as opus incertum (Gros 1996–2001, II, p. 301), there are signs that Vighi himself sometimes inclined to a later date. At one point he pushes the ‘Republican’ date to its lowest chronological limits, observing that the use of brick courses suggested a date ‘around the middle of the first century BC or the years immediately following’ (Vighi 1941, p. 146); at another various finds from the villa, including Arretine ware and terracotta plaques of Campana type, persuade him of the villa’s origin ‘between the end of the Republic and the beginnings of the Empire’; and at a third, he suggests that the fragment of an inscription of which the spacing of the lettering appeared ‘no earlier than the Augustan period’ (see below) had belonged to an honorific monument ‘contemporary with the construction of the villa’ (Vighi 1940, p. 418). At all events, once one assesses the reticulate work of the ‘Villa Claudia’ more carefully within both its specific structural environment and its broader chronological context, the foundations of the argument for its Republican date quickly crumble, and little obstacle remains to lowering this date well into the Augustan period. A further argument can be developed from architectural design. For Vighi, the allegedly early date of the complex made it a ‘caposaldo’ (landmark) in the history of Roman curvilinear architecture (Vighi 1941, p. 146). Assuming the work to be late Republican in date, he argued that the curved ‘exedra’ in the ‘Villa Claudia’ represented an intermediate stage between the theatre-like exedra at the top of the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia at Praeneste (Palestrina) and the Forum of Augustus. Both of these are semi-circular structures that derived from compass-based design, and they almost certainly influenced the reconstruction published in Vighi’s second article, drawn in the late 1930s by Alberto

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Fig. 13 The ‘Villa Claudia’, elliptical nymphaeum seen from the unexcavated section, view from northeast (Photo: Mantha Zarmakoupi)

Carpiceci (Vighi 1941). Italian architects of this age were well trained in buildings like the Forum Augustum and the sanctuary at Palestrina. But a comparison of the reconstruction drawing by the architect Carpiceci (Fig. 6) with Vighi’s excavation plan (Fig. 3) reveals that the former’s reconstruction has been rounded to present an exactly semi-circular outline; the slender half-columns of the garden structure have been enlarged into a monumental portico; and a formal propylon structure has been placed at the centre of the fac ¸ ade. The actual curve at Anguillara, however, is not semi-circular, but traces a much flatter curve, close to an ellipse. It is recognizable to us as a chord from one side of an amphitheatre. Not for nothing does Zarmakoupi observe its ‘almost amphitheatric relationship’ with the landscape (2005, p. 6) (Fig. 13).

Roman villas and the architecture of water display The use of hemicycles in the context of water displays is, in fact, a feature of private villa architecture of the early imperial period. A striking example is the Villa della Sosandra at Baiae, a terrace villa the third level of which is occupied by a large semi-circular exedra facing a basin supplied from five large cisterns behind (Di Luca 2009, pp. 153–154). Rather later, the Hadrianic nymphaeum at Zaghouan at the source of the aqueduct which supplied Carthage took the form of a hemicycle with niches around a central basin (Rakob 1974). Yet the elliptical form visible at Anguillara is rather rare in villa architecture. A close parallel is a substructure with niches in opus reticulatum from the Augustan or Tiberian phase of the so-called ‘Villa of Nero’ or ‘Imperial Villa’ on the southern Latium coast at Anzio (Antium), which served as the ideal chord of a grand curvilinear belvedere (Santamaria Scrinari and Morricone Matini 1975, pp. 10–14; Mielsch 1987, pp. 52–53; Brandizzi Vitucci 2000, no. 10; Blokzijl 2006; Jaia 2008, p. 73). A recent attempt to classify Roman villas places these two villas in a separate category of ‘exceptional types’, consisting of ‘a semicircular frontage or curvilinear prospect’ (Romizzi 2001, pp. 111–115). The Antium example is now classed not as a sea frontage (Mielsch 1987, pp. 52–53), but as ‘the grand portico of a system with distinct nuclei’, whose shape

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probably resulted from a desire to follow the line of the coast (Jaia 2008, p. 79, no. 4). Nonetheless, the contemporaneity of the two villas is striking. There are also parallels from the aristocratic gardens (Horti) on the edges of Rome. The early Augustan villa under the Villa Farnesina on the right bank of the Tiber is characterised by a huge hemicycle facing the river (Moneti 1991). On the Esquiline hill the socalled ‘Auditorium of Maecenas’ was a fountain building at the semicircular end of which water cascaded down steps between arrangements of flowers (Greggio 1984). More significantly, drawings by Leonardo Bufalini and Pirro Ligorio in their maps of the city executed in 1551 and 1561, respectively, show a curvilinear structure on the Pincio hill in the northern suburbs of ancient Rome, which no longer survives, but apparently once overlooked the Campus Martius and, beyond that, the centre of Rome (Frutaz 1962, II, pls. 27 and 214; Bufalini 1551). Ligorio attributed it to the Gardens of Lucullus, infamous from classical texts, and his extravagant reconstruction as a semicircular exedra, developed in a plan preserved in Turin (Turin, Archivio di Stato, MS a.II.1.J.14, fols. 128v-129r) was later followed by Rodolfo Lanciani in his large-scale map of the remains of ancient Rome (Lanciani 1893–1901, pl. 9). From his traditional training Carpiceci was familiar with Renaissance reconstructions of ancient buildings and, because Ligorio’s plan became widely known after its adoption by Lanciani, it is possible that his knowledge of the drawing influenced his own restoration of the Anguillara villa, as several details of the reconstruction are taken from Ligorio’s imaginative view. On Bufalini’s contemporary map the form is shown with a considerably more open curve. In the 1980s a close survey and excavation of the site, now occupied by the French School at the Villa Medici, confirmed the accuracy of Bufalini’s plan with the discovery of a corridor in opus reticulatum, partly rebuilt in opus mixtum, at the top of the north garden of the Convent of ` dei Monti, on which the later Casina Bufalini was constructed (Broise and Jolivet Trinita 1995a, b, 2009, pp. 21–22) (Fig. 14). This is interpreted as the rear walls of the semicircular complex drawn by Ligorio (Broise and Jolivet 2009, pp. 22–25). Situated below a round temple, possibly of Fortune, this portico some 180 m long offers a parallel for a curvilinear structure in a garden environment; below it, a semicircular embankment of earth like a theatre cavea supported at the base by a low retaining wall of reticulate facing. But the stratigraphic dating indicates that this imposing garden complex was not created at the time of Lucullus, in the late Republican era, but in the first century AD, probably in the Claudian period, the work of the Gallic magnate Valerius Asiaticus (Broise and Jolivet 1995a, b, pp. 20–22). Most interestingly for our present purpose, this early imperial garden structure on the Pincio, with an eagle and thunderbolts, the symbols of Jupiter, incorporated in its capitals, may have been the ‘Nymphaeum of Jupiter’ indicated in Region VII by the Regionary Catalogues of Rome (Valentini and Zucchetti 1940: I, p. 110). Its fountains were probably supplied by the new aqueduct inaugurated by Gaius and completed by Claudius, the Anio Novus, which for the first time brought a piped water supply to the hill. But the water display of the ‘Villa Claudia’ anticipated Asiaticus’s garden fountains on the Pincio by a generation. There is every chance that it too was supplied by an aqueduct, the new Aqua Augusta or Aqua Alsietina of Augustus. Elsewhere in Rome’s hinterland branches off the principal aqueducts supplying the city were used to serve not only the basic needs, but also the ornamental display of private and imperial villas. Statius describes how the Aqua Marcia was carried across the river Anio to be distributed to the Villa of Manilius Vopiscus at Tivoli (Silvae 1.3.66–69); the ambitious Villa of the Quintilii on the Via Appia had its own branch off one of the city’s aqueducts, although which one is unclear (Garbrecht and Manderscheid 1994: A, 15; B, cat. no. A19; C, Fig. 13); and, on the grandest scale, Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli also exploited the urban

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72 Fig. 14 Partial plan of ancient structures on the Pincio hill in Rome, exposed in the convent of ` dei Monti and the SS. Trinita Villa Medici by the excavations of the French School in Rome. Drawing by Henri Broise. (From Broise and Jolivet 2009, p. 17 Fig. 8. Ó Ecole Franc ¸ aise de Rome)

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supply (Manderscheid 2000). The clustering of villas around Tivoli was explained not only by the allure of the landscape. It was also the area through which most of Rome’s aqueducts passed, a ready-made supply, or so it seemed, to be tapped by villa owners for a wealth and variety of aquatic displays (Evans 1993, p. 454). The group of 26 large cisterns with capacities over 200 m3 identified on the opposite side of Lake Bracciano, in the Tiber valley, which must have been fed by some form of aqueduct or small-scale conduit, must have principally served either baths or irrigation (Wilson 2009, pp. 735, 739); but the possibility that cisterns of such size also served water displays in luxury residential villas of high status is also considered (Wilson 2009, p. 747). The possibility that a branch off the Aqua Alsietina was used to supply the fountains of the villa at Anguillara gains further credence from the survival of a fragment of a large travertine slab near Casale di S. Maria di Galeria on the Via Clodia, four miles south of the ‘Villa Claudia’. It recorded Augustus’s addition of ‘the channel of Mens (forma Mentis) to the conduit of the Aqua Augusta which arrives at the Grove of the Caesars, [so that] (the water might flow) from it to the neighbouring properties (rivalibus) which used to receive (water) at the trumpet signal [i.e. only at fixed times]’ (CIL 6.31566 = 11.3772a = ILS 5796). The slab, found in 1887, had itself been re-used in recent times as the cover over a conduit of the Acqua Paola coming from Bracciano, which at this point coincided with the

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route of the former Alsietina (Ashby 1935, p. 183; Wilson 2009, pp. 751–752). It would be quite understandable if a similar branch of the Augusta had around the same time supplied the ‘Villa Claudia’ with the means for its water displays, as the high-status small finds from the site, including Arretine ware and Campana plaques, appear to point to a prestigious phase of occupation in the Augustan period. While the law of Occam’s razor may not apply to archaeological evidence, there is good reason in this case to believe the simplest hypothesis with the fewest new variables, namely that the construction of the fountain structure of the ‘Villa Claudia’ occurred around the same time as the channelling of the aqueduct. There remains the question of its elliptical form, so unusual within the architecture of Roman villas. The general associations between curvilinear architecture and water, especially in villas or sanctuaries, are well documented (Janon 1985, pp. 84–102), and the cosmic aspect of theatres (Deschamps 1979; Poulle 1999) might even have lent microcosmic meaning to the scenic water effects viewed from the theatre-like upper rooms. But the ellipse in particular, rather than the D-shaped curve more typical of villa architecture— the classic case is Pliny, Letters 2.17.4—needs explanation. Around the end of the first century BC, the ellipse would have been associated to a contemporary viewer above all with the novel form of the amphitheatre. Yet here, on the edges of Augustan Rome, it was not the amphitheatre as such that came to mind, but its formal derivative, also a locus of water displays at the opposite end of the Aqua Augusta and Alsietina: the Stagnum Augusti in the Gardens of Caesar in Trans Tiberim, used to stage the newly inaugurated Naumachia Augusti. Modern reconstructions of the Stagnum Augusti vary. Some have argued for a rectangular outline, on the basis of fragments of the Severan marble plan of Rome (Coarelli 1992; Taylor 1997, p. 477). But considerations of stability of the structure and the visibility for spectators suggest an elliptical form (Coleman 1993, p. 53). Moreover, the dimensions proudly announced by Augustus in his Res Gestae (23)—a length of 1800 feet and a width of 1200 feet—make sense not so much in terms of a rectangular space, but in terms of the planning of elliptical amphitheatral structures according to a ratio of 3:2 between the vertical and horizontal diameters (Wilson Jones 1993). At Anguillara the length of the curve is given by Vighi as 87 m, which corresponds to the axial distance between the last half-column at each end of the reconstructed structure (Fig. 3). But if instead the central axis is measured, the distance is *88.5 m, which is equivalent to 300 Roman feet, or onesixth the length of the Stagnum Augusti in Rome; the portico on the Pincio, completed two generations later in the Claudian period, has been estimated as having had a length of around 180 m, which corresponds to an approximation of 600 Roman feet, twice the size of the Anguillara version and a third of the Naumachia in Trans Tiberim. We return to the fountains. Where did the water go? Vighi has it collected in small round basins below the fountains of the side wings. But what lay beyond these basins? Do we dare to believe that this elliptical basin was filled like the great Naumachia of Augustus? Well, of course, we only have half an ellipse here. There are no remains of structures on the other side, though, if there were, they would lie mostly under the present mineral water plant. But what we do have is a structure, only a few miles from the aqueduct’s source, and with limited buildings around it, that is suggestive of the new form down in the city below at the aqueduct’s termination. Might the garden display at Anguillara, also of elliptical form, have culminated in a great pool, a scaled-down version the Naumachia at the other end of the aqueduct, viewed by ‘spectators’ from the upper storeys and the ambulatory (Fig. 15)? Roman villa owners were inclined to such virtual fantasies. In the same way Nero’s villa at Antium, his favourite villa according to Tacitus (Annals

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15.23), embraced a harbour of ships in its curvature; the portico of Asiaticus’s gardens on the Pincio, also apparently supplied by an aqueduct, looked directly down on the amphitheatre of Gaius (Broise and Jolivet 1995a, b, p. 23, 1996, p. 69). The structure at Anguillara can thus be seen as a precursor of later curvilinear garden structures. A later example provides a formal parallel. The Oval Fountain, or Fountain of Tivoli (1565–70), in the Villa d’Este at Tivoli was considered by a contemporary to be ‘the principal one of all the fountains of this garden and perhaps of all Italy’ (Anon., c. 1571, in Paris, Bibl. Nat., MS Ital., fol. 256v). Potted plants stood in the niches around the semioval arcade; below was a huge oval basin filled with water, the rim faced with majolica tiles, and trees enclosed the area; in the niches between the arches ten statues of water nymphs held vases from which water streamed into the basin; at the centre rear of the fac ¸ ade was a large crater at the level of the top of the arcade, in the centre of which a ball released jets of water to form the outlines of a fleur-de-lis, the emblem of Cardinal Ippolito d’Este; and the water from above overflowed this crater and cascaded into the basin. Visitors promenading under the arcade would be enthraled by the noise of the cascade and the trick of jets of water spurting out with their every step. Stairs at either end led to three grottoes at the upper level, set in the artificial porous stone hill with statues of Albunea, the Sibyl of Tivoli, and of river gods of the local rivers, the Erculaneo and the Anio. Above this artificial mountain the culmination of this scheme, a statue of Pegasus appeared about to leap from Helicon (Coffin 1962, p. 31, Fig. 30). Designed by Ligorio, this baroque creation owed much to the antique.

Fig. 15 View from the ramp (Fig. 3e) through the ambulatory towards the exterior of the complex, from west (Photo: Mantha Zarmakoupi)

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Ownership, status and display The close formal and mathematical connections between the form of the elliptical garden structure at Anguillara Sabazia and high-status structures at Rome from the same period or a little later, and the high likelihood of its provision from the Aqua Augusta/Alsietina, make it tempting to see a high-ranking member of the Augustan aristocracy in the owner of this property. The ‘Villa Claudia’ is not the only elite villa in the area with possible senatorial connections (Accardo et al. 2007, pp. 192, 225). The nearby medieval town of Anguillara may itself have developed from a Roman villa; in the Julio-Claudian period the property of Angularium is counted among the possessions of one Rutilia Polla involved in a dispute over fishing rights for the Lacus Sabatinus (Digest 18.1.69; Accardo et al. 2007, pp. 69–70, 77–81, 160). Our site, however, provides little direct evidence. A re-used fragment of a large marble entablature (60 cm high, 14 cm thick) found some years before the excavation was dated by its widely spaced letters to ‘no later than the Augustan period’ and believed by Vighi to have belonged to an honorific monument possibly contemporary with the construction at the site (Vighi 1940, p. 418). The letters CORNELIO might suggest a member of the Cornelii. If so, the possibilities are manifold (Syme 1986, pp. 480–482). One of the Cornelii Lentuli? The consul Cornelius Dolabella? One could imagine that the construction of this visual microcosm of the Naumachia Augusti, situated on the route of its dedicated supply, the Aqua Augusta, and near the latter’s source, was the scheme of a magistrate within the Cura Aquarum, the commission created by Augustus in 11 BC after the death of Agrippa, which must have had practical responsibility for the aqueduct and the Naumachia; its design could be understood as the work of an architect closely associated with the imperial works. The three-man senatorial commission responsible started with M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus (cos. 31 BC) as curator, with two assistants (adiutores), Postumius Sulpicius (praetorius) and Lucius Cominius (pedarius) (Frontinus, Aq. 99.4). Of the curatores aquarum who followed, few of the assistants are known, but for the leading curator Frontinus provides a continuous record for the next century, embracing some of the biggest names in Julio-Claudian and Flavian politics (Aq. 99–100). None of these, however, belonged to the Cornelii. If this is a full record, as is usually believed, this line of inquiry falls there, and we must surrender to ignorance about the owner of the villa. The text of Frontinus appears clear enough: ‘Messalla was succeeded in the consulship of Plancus and Silius [AD 13] by [C.] Ateius Capito [suff. AD 5].’ However, as Messalla’s funeral took place in the presence of the poet Ovid before the his exile from Rome in early winter AD 8, Messalla must have died in AD 8, not 13, so unless Rome went 5 years without a curator, names must have dropped out from the transmitted version of Frontinus’s list (Syme 1978, pp. 123–125; Rodgers 1982, p. 172). There is still a chance then that the missing curator between AD 8 and AD 13 belonged to the gens Cornelia and was the patron of our site in a position to exploit the recently completed aqueduct and learn from the design for the recent Naumachia. The example of Messalla and the pattern of subsequent appointments suggest that this unknown man should be of consular rank and retired enough from the most active and important levels of politics to hold an office that was ‘far from arduous for senators’ and ‘less important and…lower in prestige than might have been fancied’ (Syme 1986, p. 221). A handful of examples fit these requirements: the augur Cn. Cornelius Lentulus (cos. 14 BC), L. Cornelius Sulla (cos. 5 BC), L. Cornelius Lentulus (cos. 3 BC), Cossus Cornelius Lentulus (cos. 1 BC), P. Cornelius Lentulus Scipio (cos. AD 2), and C. Cornelius Cinna Magnus (cos. AD 5). Was this lavish water display the work of the fabulously wealthy Lentulus the Augur? Or could it be due to Cossus, recently returned from Africa with ornamenta triumphalia and

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money to burn, and a partisan of Tiberius, who at the end of his life would become Prefect of the City? But, as is written of another of the Cornelii Lentuli, ‘little profit will accrue from further speculation’ (Syme 1986, p. 297). Conclusion This article has suggested, first, that the water display on the villa site at Anguillara Sabazia was supplied from the Aqua Augusta/Alsietina, either directly, or by a subsidiary branch, and, second, that its elliptical form, dated to the later Augustan period, may once have presented a small-scale version of the Naumachia Augusti produced in 2 BC and inspired a later structure, twice as long, in the gardens of Valerius Asiaticus on the Pincio hill at Rome, and perhaps also a villa on the south Latium coast at Antium. The correspondence between the garden fountains in the hinterland of Rome and the imperial monument in the capital reinforces the way in which such aquatic displays reflected and demonstrated structures of political power. Thus, through its water supply and its visual model the ‘Villa Claudia’ may indeed have an imperial connection, if not the same one as its popular name suggests, nonetheless the property of an influential senatorial family of late Augustan Rome. The incompleteness of the original excavation has left many imprecisions and many questions unanswered. One day a further survey might revive our understanding of this ancient ‘Fountain of Pleasure’.
Acknowledgements I am particularly grateful to Dr Mantha Zarmakoupi for permission to reproduce her photographs which accompany this article and to the editor of this issue and to the two anonymous readers for their helpful comments and suggestions which have improved the text. Any remaining shortcomings are my own.

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Author Biography
Edmund Thomas is Lecturer in Ancient Visual and Material Culture, Durham University, UK. His main research interest is Roman architecture and its relation to Roman society and culture. His book Monumentality and the Roman Empire: Architecture in the Antonine Age (Oxford University Press) appeared in 2007. He has written articles on the Pantheon in Rome and on aspects of Roman epigraphy, and has jointly authored a work on the historical topography of Winchester from the late Iron Age to 1800 for the Historic Towns Atlas series, also to be published by OUP. He has spent lengthy periods of research in Rome and has been involved in archaeological excavations at Butrint in Albania. He is also a qualified archivist and has a special interest in the description and management of architectural drawings.

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