Villa of the Quintilii

Ancient Roman ruin
41°49′53.143″N 12°33′8.935″E / 41.83142861°N 12.55248194°E / 41.83142861; 12.55248194TypeDwellingHistoryPeriodsRoman ImperialCulturesRomanSite notesConditionRuinedOwnershipPublicPublic accessYesWebsiteOfficial website

The Villa of the Quintilii (Italian: Villa dei Quintili) is a monumental ancient Roman villa beyond the fifth milestone along the Via Appia Antica just outside the traditional boundaries of Rome, Italy. It was built by the rich and cultured Quintilii brothers Sextus Quintilius Valerius Maximus and Sextus Quintilius Condianus (consuls in 151 AD).[1]

The ruins of this villa suburbana are of such an extent that when they were first excavated, the site was called Roma Vecchia ("Old Rome") by the locals, as they occupied too great a ground, it seemed, to have been anything less than a town.[2] The nucleus of the villa was constructed in the time of Hadrian.[citation needed] The villa included extensive thermae fed by its own aqueduct and, what was even more unusual, a garden-hippodrome, which dates to the fourth century, when the villa was Imperial property: the emperor Commodus coveted the villa strongly enough to put to death its owners in 182 and confiscate it for himself.

In 1776 Gavin Hamilton, the entrepreneurial painter and purveyor of Roman antiquities, excavated some parts of the Villa of the Quintilii, still called "Roma Vecchia", and the sculptures he uncovered revealed the imperial nature of the site:

A considerable ruin is seen near this last upon the right hand, and is generally considered to have been the ruins of a Villa of Domitian's nurse. The fragments of Collossal Statues found near this ruin confirms me in this opinion, the excellent sculptour strengthens this supposition...[3]

There he found five marble sculptures, including "An Adonis asleep",[4] that he sold to Charles Townley and have come to the British Museum and "A Bacchante with the tyger", listed as sold to Mr Greville.[5] The large marble relief of Asclepius found at the site passed from Hamilton to the Earl of Shelburne, later Marquess of Lansdowne, at Lansdowne House, London.[6] The "Braschi Venus" from the site was purchased by Pius VI's nephew, Luigi Braschi Onesti.

Today the archeological site houses a museum[7] with marble friezes and sculptures that once adorned the villa. The nympheum, the hall of the tepidarium and the baths may also be visited. A grand terrace overlooking the Via Appia Nuova, which dates back to 1784, commands a fine view of the Castelli Romani district. The villa's grounds extended even beyond the route of the Via Appia Nuova.

In 2018, new excavations uncovered an extravagant and extraordinary winery and triclinium, built over the starting gates of the Commodus' circus, which features marble-clad instead of opus signinum treading areas, and a distribution system with fountains of wine that flowed from the production spaces down into the cellar.[8] The facility has equipment normally found in ancient Roman wineries,[9] but the level of decoration and theatre indicate that it served a more unusual purpose of conspicuous production and potential vintage ritual for the elite of imperial Roman society.[10] Triclinia (dining rooms) with wide entrances surrounded this winery area on three sides, their walls and floors covered in elaborate opus sectile with exotic marbles in geometrical patterns, indicating that the emperor entertained here around the theatrical spectacle of wine production. It is similar to the ceremonial winery of the imperial Villa Magna in Latium. It is dated to the reign of Gordian III (r. 238-244 AD).[11]

See also

Media related to Villa dei Quintili (Rome) at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ A. Ricci, La villa dei Quintilii (Rome 1998).
  2. ^ "A Walk along Via Appia Antica from Cecilia Metella to Torre in Selci". Retrieved 2023-08-08.
  3. ^ Hamilton to Charles Townley, quoted in Cornelius Vermeule, 'Graeco-Roman Statues: Purpose and Setting - II: Literary and Archaeological Evidence for the Display and Grouping of Graeco-Roman Sculpture", Burlington Magazine 110 No. 788 (November 1968:607-613) p. 612.
  4. ^ "Endymion asleep on Mount Latmus, according to Vermeule.
  5. ^ The "Adonis" and "Bacchante" appear in a list of "Ancient marbles found by Mr Gavin Hamilton in various Ruins near Rome since 1769", annexed to a volume of transcripts of the Hamilton-Townley correspondence, published by G. J. Hamilton and A. H. Smith, "Gavin Hamilton's Letters to Charles Townley" The Journal of Hellenic Studies 21 (1901:306-321); the Townley "Bacchante" at the British Museum is "merely a draped female with a bunch of grapes in the left hand and a panther beside the lower limbs" according to Vermeule; it had been called a "Libera" and "found by Mr. Gavin Hamilton, at Roma Vecchia", in Charles Knight, Guide cards to the antiquities in the British Museum 1840.
  6. ^ Vermeule 1968:612, noting A.H. Smith, in Journal of Hellenic Studies 21' (1901:316). Smith had identified the site as the Domus Quintiliana in The Lansdowne Marbles 1889. (Vermeule, ibid., note 14).
  7. ^ Catalogued by Paola Brandizzi Vittucci, La collezione archeologica nel Casale di Roma Vecchia (Rome) 1982.
  8. ^ Dodd, Emlyn; Galli, Giuliana; Frontoni, Riccardo (April 2023). "The spectacle of production: a Roman imperial winery at the Villa of the Quintilii, Rome". Antiquity. 97 (392): 436–453. doi:10.15184/aqy.2023.18. ISSN 0003-598X.
  9. ^ Dodd, Emlyn (2022-07-01). "The Archaeology of Wine Production in Roman and Pre-Roman Italy". American Journal of Archaeology. 126 (3): 443–480. doi:10.1086/719697. ISSN 0002-9114. S2CID 249679636.
  10. ^ Dodd, Emlyn; Galli, Giuliana; Frontoni, Riccardo (April 2023). "The spectacle of production: a Roman imperial winery at the Villa of the Quintilii, Rome". Antiquity. 97 (392): 436–453. doi:10.15184/aqy.2023.18. ISSN 0003-598X.
  11. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (2023-04-17). "Lavish ancient Roman winery found at ruins of Villa of the Quintilii near Rome". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-08-08.

External links

  • Lucentini, M. (31 December 2012). The Rome Guide: Step by Step through History's Greatest City. Interlink. ISBN 9781623710088.

Media related to Villa dei Quintili (Rome) at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Insula dell'Ara Coeli
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Villa of the Quintilii
Succeeded by
Villa dei Sette Bassi
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