Villa Romana del Casale is a Roman villa built in the fourth century and located about 5 km outside the town of Piazza Armerina in the south east of Sicily.
It was hidden under mud for 700 years until excavations began in 1950.
It contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world. It is one of 44 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy.
The Villa was the centre of a large agricultural estate. It was abandoned in the 12th century AD when a landslide covered the villa.
The Villa was almost entirely forgotten until the late 19th century when some excavation work was carried out.
The first professional excavations were carried out in 1929 but the true extent was not discovered until 1950.
The Villa owner was probably a member of the Roman senatorial class if not the imperial family itself.
The Villa appears to have served several purposes including residential, administrative and official.
In 1959 a floor area was excavated now called “Chamber of the ten maidens” or Coronation of the winner. The young women perform sports including weight lifting, discuss throwing, running and ball games. The maiden with the crown is the perceived winner of the games.
And we thought the bikini was a modern day invention!
Amazing quality of tiles considering they are over 1600 years old. Being covered by the mud slide for a considerable time helped to preserve the tiles.
It is thought that this Villa was also a staging post between North Africa and Rome for capturing and transporting wild animals from North Africa back to Rome for “the games” at the Colosseum and other like places.
The following floor tiles depict various scenes of the hunt, the capture, animal traders and animal pictures.
Quite remarkable and……
..the restoration and excavation continues meticulously.
An amazing experience and site to visit.