Two more buildings have been discovered in

the southern part of the site.
Building G (southern sector of site) peculiar
plan is characterized by a hallway, a central
area with three apses and rich wall paintings
(fig. 5); ‘H’ complex area has a very large
service courtyard (where a setting basin and a
kiln are located) and a big building with two
large apsidal rooms.

During the roman imperial age the site of
San Gaetano di Vada was part of a wider
harbour system called Vada Volaterrana; this
was a sequence of docks, pottery factories
and farms spreading trough the coastal
plane between the Fine and the Cecina river,
at that time part of the territory of the city of
San Gaetano harbour quarter was built,
according to a plan (fig.1), during the
Augustan age, to be abandoned at the
beginning of the VIIth century AD; here
excavations revealed 8 buildings: a large
warehouse (horreum; fig.1 ‘B’) with almost
36 cells (figg.2-3), a little thermal bath (‘A’)
intended for the warehouse’s workers
(horrearii), a fountain/waterhole (‘E’),
probably a large water tank (‘C’) and a
public thermal bath (‘D’). In front of the
thermal bath (‘D’) the head office (schola ‘F’)
of the guild (collegium) in charge of port
activities management standed. Its members
(dendrophori) worshipped the Eastern
Goddess Cibele, whose lover Attis’ marble
statue was found in fragments (fig. 4).
Vada Volaterrana harbour excavation
Fig.2 - Warhouse cell.
Fig.1 - Plan of the archaeological site.
Fig.5 - Wall painting
with theatrical mask.
Fig.3 - Warhouse 3D reconstruction.
Fig.4 - Attis marble statue (Archaeological Museum, Rosignano
Lamp with christian symbol
Vada Volaterrana Harbour Project
2013 excavation and survey report
by S. Genovesi, F. Bulzomì (staff)

A recent GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar)
survey allowed us to identify, southward of
the area already investigated (Fig. 1), the
structures of a new building, belonging as
well to the same harbour quarter (Fig. 2).
In July the excavation of this new building
Investigations focused on a rectangular
structure of 4x5,3  m (figg.3-4 ); although
until now a few data have been collected,
the very thick walls (90 cm) show its height
should be a not negligible one – perhaps to
be related to a use as a water tank or a
stairwell to upper floors.

In the empty space inside the structure many
marble slabs, taken form others building,
have been found, together with pottery
fragments belonging to local wine amphoras
and Tunisian olive oil and fish sauces (like
garum) amphoras (Fig. 5).
Vada Volaterrana harbour project – Report 2013
Vada Volaterrana harbour excavation
A new building…
Fig.2 (above) – GPR plan of the new
Fig.1 (left) – Plan of the harbour
quarter of S. Gaetano di Vada. The
new area is in red.
Fig.3 – The big rectangular structure form the South
Fig.4 – The big rectangular structure form the North
Fig.5 –
inside the
Vada Volaterrana harbour project – Report 2013
Vada Volaterrana harbour excavation
A new building…
Even if the porpouse of the small artefact is
not easy to understand, a first hypothesis
can be proposed; the statue could be used
for a family and private cult, representing in
fact one of the ancestors (called in latin
Lares familiares).
Very close to the big rectangular structure a
circular hole (figg. 1-2), used as a trash-pit,
was dug – according to pottery findings -
between the Vth and the VIth cent. AD. (fig.
The most surprising discovery from the hole
is a small clay statue, only 9,5 cm tall (fig. 4);
forearms and legs are all actually missing.
The style is very simple, showing no interest
for details. A beard and hair, made by many
small points all around the mouth and over
the head, tell us the statue is finally
representing a man.
Fig.2 (above) – The trash-pit seen from above
Fig.4 – The clay statue
Fig.1 (above) – Location of the trash-pit
Fig.3 – The trash-pit being excavated
Vada Volaterrana harbour project – Report 2013
Vada Volaterrana harbour excavation
A new building…
In September the excavation was extended
to the Northern sector of the area
investigated by GPR survey. The building
identified during the July campaign is
actually extending to the North, where many
walls in many different building techniques
several phases of life, to be thoroughly
investigated during 2014 excavation. Three
rooms (room 1, 3, 4), whose purpose is not
yet known, have been anyway identified
The Northernmost one is actually the most
interesting and puzzling; being characterized
by a semi-circular shaped structure (figg. 2-
3) a sort of apse – it can be cautiously
identified with a small shrine. The
chronology of this area and of the three
rooms – like in the Southern one – will be
better understood since next campaign,
when we’ll be able to focus our excavation
activity inside each room, digging their full
stratigraphical sequence.
In late antiquity (Vth-VIth cent. AD) this sector
of the building was used as a necropolis; two
tombs, both of them reusing a big amphora
for laying the body, have been excavated in
the middle of the area (fig. 4). This kind of
burial is called enchytrismós (figg. 4-5).
A few bones allowed us to identify one of
them as the burial of a 4-5 years old child.

Fig. 1- The identified rooms: room 1, room 3, room 4.
Fig. 2- Room 4: semi-circular shaped structure.
Fig.4- Enchytrismós from the middle of the excavation area.
Fig. 4- Amphora reused
as a tomb from S.
Martino in Collinaia,
Fig.3- View of the room 4 from above.
Bronze buckle from
the new area.
Vada Volaterrana harbour project – Report 2013
Vada Volaterrana harbour excavation
The survey
Fig.2 – The Vada Volaterrana coast and the surveyed area
The first week of Vada Volaterrana Harbour
Project - 2013 was dedicated to the field
survey of a part of the territory located
between the roman harbour settlement and
the mouth of the Cecina river (figg. 1-2).
All along the coast, a number of workshop
producing amphoras for local wine trade,
utilitarian pottery and bricks developed
specially during the Early Imperial Age. This
major economic development was related to
the interests of the aristocratic families of
the city of Volterra, deeply involved in the
local and provincial trade of the wine their
own villas estates produced.
In many cases, the traces of these workshops
are still visible on the ground after plowing;
the main purposes of our campaign were
identifying their tracks and creating a map
of discovered settlements.
Surveyed areas
Fig.1 – Walking the Vada Volaterrana coast: a break….
Vada Volaterrana harbour project – Report 2013
Vada Volaterrana harbour excavation
The survey
Fig.3 – Site with fragments of pottery and roof-tiles.
Fig.1 – Map of the surveyed areas. The wine amphoras
workshops sites in grey.
A dramatically smaller group of pottery
fragments testify a continuous production of
wine amphoras again until the Vth- VIth
cent. AD but certainly at a much lower scale.
A strong competition from cheaper
foodstuffs of the Roman Empire provinces
meant the workshops of Vada Volaterrana
harbour coast saw over time their activity
decreasing more and more.
Five sites, called - according to
archaeological terminology - UT (Units of
Topography), have been identified (fig. 1).
The findings of four of them revealed traces
of pottery production activities, like the so-
called “kiln spacers” - terracotta rings used
for preventing the amphorae from sticking
during firing - and burnt bricks belonging to
the kilns structures. Among the pottery
amphoras fragments - , almost all belonging
to sea trade types - were by far the most
numerous (figg. 2-3).
The four UTs – very close each other - thus
belong to a single and wide workhops
settlement, whose maximum development
phase is dated between the beginning of the
Imperial Age and the end of the Ist cent. AD.
Amphoras were of course shipped at the
Vada Volaterrana harbour (fig. 4).
Fig.2 (left) – Amphoras workshop site.
Fig.4 –
Main wine
produced in
the Vada