Monday, May 26, 2014

Cosa Excavations: 2014 Blog

For many years the flagship of American archaeology in Italy, the Roman colony of Cosa (Ansedonia) boasts a remarkable history that spans more that 1,300 years.  Founded on the eve of the first Punic war, it was destroyed sometime around 70 BCE and then substantially rebuilt under Augustus.  Occupation in an intermittent fashion continued at the site through Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Excavations at the site of Cosa have gone on at intervals from 1948 into the millennium under the auspices of the American Academy in Rome (AAR).  In addition to the study of the port and fishery below the town site, excavation reports from Cosa have greatly advanced the knowledge of public and private architecture in Roman Italy of the second and first centuries BCE and of the material environment for political and religious practices, commercial exchange, land use, and artisan activity.

After a long hiatus, new excavations at Cosa began in June 2013 under the direction of Andrea U. De Giorgi (Florida State University) and Russell T. Scott (Bryn Mawr College).  Following much investigation of the town's sacred and public areas, this research brings into focus the bath complex.  How did Roman baths function and serve a community at a waterless site?  How did the engineering of the complex exploit the only available potential water sources, underground cisterns supplied by rain water and runoff?  What constraints did such a system impose on its use?  The 2013 excavations were able only to scratch the surface in regards to these important inquiries--and the 2014 excavations are poised to pick up where they left off.