The Signum Vortumni Project: Excavations at the Horrea Agrippiana in the Roman Forum (2016-2019)

Lecture | March 18 | 12-1 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)

 Matthew J. Mandich, Field School Director, The International Society for Archaeology, Art and Architecture of Rome

 Archaeological Research Facility

The remains of the Horrea Agrippiana, an imposing, multi-story imperial warehouse dating to the time of Augustus, were first brought to light in the early 1900s during excavations directed by Giacomo Boni. The site is located at the base of the Palatine Hill’s northwestern slope and is bordered by the famed vicus Tuscus – one of Rome’s oldest roads that ran between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, connecting the Forum with the Circus Maximus and the Velabrum area. According to the literary tradition a statue of the god Vortumnus (the Etruscan god of change) stood somewhere on or near the vicus Tuscus, seemingly in proximity to the later site of the Horrea Agrippiana – hence the name of the project. Following Boni’s investigations the building was the subject of additional topographical and architectural studies, allowing for the documentation of multiple building phases ranging from the Augustan era until at least the 7th century AD. However, until recently, the site was not the subject of scientific stratigraphic archaeological exploration. Following promising preliminary probes carried out in 2003-2005, in 2016 The International Society for the Archaeology, Art and Architecture of Rome (ISAR) was granted an official excavation concession by the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali (MiBAC) for the Signum Vortumni Project. The aim of this project is to uncover and reconstruct the pre-Imperial topography of this important area in the monumental center. Following four seasons of excavation, the remains of several diverse structures have come to light, including a large opus quadratum building, a later Republican domus, and an early brick-built apartment or storage building. Based on the results of these excavations, this paper will attempt to reconstruct the pre-Augustan topography of the NW slope of the Palatine Hill in addition to providing insights concerning late antique phases of site use.