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Piazza Armerina


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A hill‐town of central south Sicily famous for the remains of the most sumptuously appointed villa so far discovered in the Roman empire. The complex, covering 1.5 ha. (3¾ acres), consists of four parts: a triple‐arched entrance with court beyond; the heart of the residential villa grouped around a peristyled garden, with a large reception hall and the private living quarters opening off a 70‐m. (230‐ft.)‐long corridor; a banqueting suite to the south, set around another court; and an elaborate bath‐suite. There are some 45 rooms in all; service quarters await identification. The reception hall was paved in marble, the remaining rooms and corridors with mosaic floors of varying quality, some geometric but most figured. All are likely to have been laid by mosaicists from North Africa, probably based in Carthage. The columns were of polychrome marble, the walls mostly frescoed. The villa was built within the first three decades of the 4th cent. ad. The owner must have been a rich member of the senatorial order who had held magistracies at Rome—the assembling of animals for the games, and a chariot‐race in the Circus Maximus, are among the subjects depicted in the mosaics—but his identity has proved elusive.

Subjects: Architecture.


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