Villa Romana del Tellaro

Noto, Italy

The Villa Romana del Tellaro is a Roman villa dating from the late Roman Empire. The remains of the villa were found in 1971 in a fertile agricultural area, on a low elevation near the Tellaro river.

The central building was constructed around a large peristyle. The section of the porch on the north side had a floor which was decorated with mosaics. They show laurel wreathes forming circles and octagons with geometric and floral motifs. They border two other rooms that retain figurative mosaics.

In the first of these rooms a very damaged mosaic contains a panel with scenes of the ransom of the body of Hector. In this scene Odysseus, Achilles and Diomedes, identified by inscriptions in Ancient Greek, are weighing the body of the hero. The figure of Priam is lost, but the legs of Hector's body can be seen partially on the right side of the scales. The gold of the ransom is visible on the left side. This event was not mentioned in the Iliad by Homer and is probably derived from a tragedy of Aeschylus. The mosaic floor in the second room shows a hunting scene with a banquet in the open air among the trees. The female figure in the scene is the personification of Africa.

The scenes on the mosaic found in the second room are reminiscent of the mosaics in the Villa Romana del Casale near Piazza Armerina. However, this mosaic has more stylized figures and two-dimensional, uncertain proportions, making the effect very different. The mosaics were probably the work of craftsmen from North Africa. Based on numismatic evidence, they were made in the second half of the fourth century CE.

The villa has seen renewed interest in recent years, mainly due to a series of reconstruction projects and redevelopment of the site. In 2008, over thirty years after the excavations, it was finally inaugurated and made accessible to the public.

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Noto, Italy
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Founded: 4th century AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

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