Rome, GA

Luxurious Ancient Winery Discovered in Ruins Near Rome

Prateek Dasgupta
Ruins of Villa Quintilli where the lavish winery was discoveredPhoto byWikimedia

Archaeologists from the Italian Ministry of Culture have made an exciting discovery at the Villa of the Quintilii, a second-century AD estate located on the ancient Appian Way southeast of Rome. The villa was already an impressive site, covering up to 24 hectares with its own theatre, chariot-racing arena, and marble-lined baths complex. But the recent discovery of an unparalleled Roman winery has made it even more remarkable.

According to Dr. Emlyn Dodd, an archaeologist, and expert on ancient wine production, the Romans built the newly discovered winery for the emperor himself. The facility included luxurious dining rooms with views of fountains gushing with young wine, as well as marble-lined treading areas where enslaved workers would stamp down the newly harvested fruit. The emperor likely watched as he feasted with his retinue.

The winery was located just beyond the city limits of Rome, in a landscape of orchards and agricultural lands dotted with monumental tombs and the villas of the super-rich. It was a lavish facility, with multicolored decorative marble flooring and the name Gordian stamped into a vast wine-collection vat. Roman emperor Gordian III either built the winery or renovated it.

The discovery of the winery came by chance as archaeologists were looking for one of the starting posts for the villa’s chariot-racing track, built by the emperor Commodus. After the wealthy Quintilii brothers who originally owned the villa were killed by Commodus in 182 AD, imperial rulers took personal ownership of the complex and modified it over the centuries.

The archaeologists’ findings have been published in the scholarly journal Antiquity. This remarkable discovery adds to the already impressive legacy of the Villa of the Quintilii, making it a must-visit site for anyone interested in Roman history and culture.

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I report on the latest breakthroughs in science, archaeology, and history.


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