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Archaeological Investigations and Excavations of Ancient Urbanity


Excavations in the Etruscan Town of Marzabotto

House IV 1, 2 (House of the Hippocampi)

From 2002 until 2007 the Commission for the Exploration of Ancient Urbanism at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BAdW) and the Universities of Bonn and Regensburg in cooperation with the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Emilia Romagna performed excavations in the Etruscan city of Marzabotto. Among others the project was funded by the Foundation for the Promotion of the Sciences in Bavaria (Stiftung zur Förderung der Wissenschaften in Bayern) and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. The investigations are headed by Martin Bentz (Bonn) and Christoph Reusser (Zürich) with the participation of Dipl. Ing. Rainer Zahn (building historian), students of various universities and local workers.

The city at the northern slope of the Apennines was founded in the 6th century BC and was deserted already in the 4th century BC. Marzabotto is the only Etruscan town the overall structure of which is known. In the 5th century BC the town received a rectangular street system. Different functional zones can be clearly differentiated: necropolises, sanctuaries and housing areas.

The project addresses a large housing context with a floor space of about 600 m²: house 2 in insula IV, 1. In1952 it was already partially exposed by P. E. Arias and fully exposed in 1960 by G. A. Mansuelli. Ever since the house has played an important role in the discussion concerning the origin of the Italic-Roman atrium building. The objective was to re-expose the house that in older excavations had been superficially investigated but never scientifically evaluated, to document the building findings in its various stages, to develop a reconstruction, to clarify the buildings history and to process the small finds. In the following, two issue complexes were supposed to be discussed: first, the origin, development and function of the Italic-Roman atrium building – house IV 1, 2 is one of the earliest representatives of this type; second, the use of Attic pottery in Etruscan living contexts. A publication is being prepared.



M. Bentz – C. Reusser (Hrsg.), Attische Keramik im etruskischen Kontext. Funde aus Häusern und Heiligtümern. Beihefte zum Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum Deutschland Bd. 2 (München 2004).

M. Bentz, Marzabotto. Auf der Suche nach dem Ursprung des Atriumhauses, Akademie Aktuell 03-2006, 25-27.

M. Bentz – C. Reusser, Marzabotto. Planstadt der Etrusker (Mainz 2008)

M. Bentz – C. Reusser (Hrsg.), Etruskisch-italische und römisch-republikanische Häuser (Wiesbaden 2010)

Further Information

The Project

Universität Bonn

Project Lead

Prof. Dr. Martin Bentz
Universität Bonn
Abteilung für Klassische Archäologie
Am Hofgarten 21
53113 Bonn

Prof. Dr. Christoph Reusser
Universität Zürich
Fachbereich Klassische Archäologie
Rämistrasse 73
CH-8006 Zürich