The Oplontis Project began in 2006 with the mission to study in the fullest possible way at site known as Oplontis, located at Torre Annunziata, Italy. The first structure, Villa A (“of Poppaea”), provides important testimony to the lives of Roman elites and their slaves in the period between 50 BCE and 79 CE; Villa B (“of P. Crassius Tertius”), a commercial establishment, broadens the scope of the project to include study of agriculture, trade, and human remains. The final product of our work is a comprehensive scholarly publication. The questions driving this study include:
- What is the exact chronology of the villas, and how do they change over time?
- How did these buildings relate to the sea and the ancient landscape?
- How did they function during their history?
- What can these villas tell us about the complex social structure of Roman Italy and the lives of their inhabitants?
The Oplontis Project is dedicated to applying the broadest range of modern archaeological techniques available today, from the broad geography of the region to the microscopic study of materials. Area studies include the geology of the Oplontine area, the history of excavations, and the flora and fauna of the region. Detailed visual study of decorations (paintings, mosaics, sculptures) is integrated with scientific studies of materials. Our excavations beneath 79 C.E. levels provide new archaeological and geological information, and the exhaustive study of the architecture clarifies the chronology and typology of the structures. Importantly, many collaborators have brought their specialized skills to bear to taking the study and publication to new levels. These specialists include paleobotanists, chemists, geoarchaeologists, hydrologists, paleographers, and forensic anthropologists.
A further innovation will be our accurate, interactive 3-D models, allowing users to explore actual and reconstructed states of the buildings. The models link to our comprehensive database, containing a full range of documentation.
We will share our results through born-digital, free-access electronic books, published in the Humanities E-book series by the American Council of Learned Societies.