In today’s stage of the virtual journey inside the Archaeological Museum of Cagliari we will talk about the finds related to private construction in Roman Cagliari.
From the Roman era in Cagliari, but in general in most cities, we know better the homes of the wealthier classes, both because the extension of these houses helps us, and because they were built with usually more durable materials.
In Karales, the inhabited area was enclosed in the space between the two ancient city necropolises, the western one of Tuvixeddu and the eastern one of Bonaria, both located on two hills. The central area leans against the upper part of the current city, located downhill towards the sea and towards the modern port which was also the ancient port from the 2nd century BC. The city center revolved around the Forum, which we have talked about in recent appointments, in what is now the Piazza del Carmine.
In the immediate vicinity of the Forum, in via Angioy, some marble decorations (antefixes) on the roof of a building and the remains of the atrium of a house and a portico were also found. The residential area was however concentrated above all in the area of today’s Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, not far from the Forum.
Halfway between the ancient Forum and the Amphitheater, the “villa of Tigellio” is still visible today. This area actually groups three rich Roman houses, two side by side and aligned, another divided from the others by a narrow, unpaved alley. The 3 domus overlooked a street parallel to the current course of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. The layout of the houses is the typical one known from other Sardinian domus, such as the domus of Atrium Tetrastyle of the city of Nora. The heart of the house was the atrium with four columns and the impluvium for collecting rainwater; the other rooms overlooked this central courtyard, including the tablinum, that is the boardroom.
In the so-called Casa degli Stucchi, the tablinum was decorated with a stucco pilaster decoration and painted frames and festoons. Instead, the domus to the south east was called “Casa del Tablino Dipinto”, due to the paneled decoration that characterizes the environment that according to the archaeologist Gennaro Pesce must have been the tablinum.
Upstream of the Villa di Tigellio on the side of the Buoncammino hill is located the Amphitheater, the most impressive public work in Karales and in the middle, the current Botanical Garden. The area of the Botanical Garden has been known since the nineteenth century as rich in archaeological remains which referred to “ancient monuments found on the site” and “some cisterns dug into the rock as reported by canon Giovanni Spano. Currently, only the latter are visible, with their complex system of channels, which tell us about a use of the area linked to the water, perhaps as a seat for nymphaeums and fountains and a place of worship linked to goddess Isis, as well as hypothetical dwellings.
Beyond the city limits towards the eastern necropolis area, at the beginning of the twentieth century Antonio Taramelli excavated part of a thermal plant linked to a rich rustic villa of roman age … but we will talk about this in the next appointment!