The project began in 2009 excavating an ancient Roman Villa – Poggio di Molino. In 2012 the project expanded to begin work at the Baratti and Populonia Archaeological Park where it continues today.
Thanks to the help of volunteers who participated in the excavation of the Necropolis of San Cerbone during May and June 2012, it was possible to obtain important new data about Populonia's territory in Etruscan and Roman period. We discovered new structures that must now be contextualised as buildings for the production of iron. Beneath these we discovered new sarcophagus tombs still containing parts of the funerary objects – including a perfectly intact bronze mirror, necklace beads, rings, beautiful painted Greek vases, and more! The research will continue to focus precisely in this area and promises to provide much new information.
Prior to this, Earthwatch volunteers helped make significant findings during excavations of the Villa of Poggio del Molino:
- Discovery, in the guest house, of a substantial portion of painted frescoes which had originally decorated the now collapsed walls.
- Evidence suggesting the presence, in the corridor, of a large furnace the ancient Romans used to smelt the iron ore coming from Elba Island.
- A coin made of silver with the image of a young horseman that could be dated to the 1st century BCE. The coin could be contemporary or even more ancient than the furnace, but it is a find of extreme importance because it proves the occupancy of the area in a period before the construction of the villa.
- A dice, apparently made of a black stone, speaks to the hobbies and games during the free-time inside the villa.
- Remnants of a water drain, found in the garden courtyard, built with bricks, stone and mortar, which ran parallel to the west wall of the courtyard, a few centimetres from it, still covered with big stones and pebbles.
- Two large stones with the inscriptions P.CXCI and P.CLXXXVIII were discovered and hypothesized to be markers of linear distance (191 and 188 Roman feet respectively). By following this hypothesis to open up a new area of excavation based on the measurements, the second corner of the perimeter wall of the villa was discovered allowing lead scientists to learn that the villa took up about 3140 square meters.
- Stratigraphical confirmation of an iron workshop from the Late Republican age likely used by a blacksmith working between the fourth and fifth centuries CE. The soil was heavily reddened by the continuous use of fire and a semi-circular structure was revealed that is most likely a small refining furnace used to heat iron.
- At least six rectangular basins discovered in the eastern sector were coated with hydraulic mortar and are thought to have been used for salting and producing fish sauce.
- New structures have been discovered that are thought to have been a caldarium (heated room) much like a spa and a praefurnium (furnace).
- Bronze Age finds including pottery and coins were collected indicating that during the Bronze Age there was a village under the villa.
- Three new mosaics: one in the corridor that leads to the hot bath and two in the other two new rooms in the guest house.
- A tower, with floors made of tiles, located on the outside of the wall of the settlement, which confirms the hypothesis about the existence of a fortress before the farm and the villa.
- A new room, in the east part of the villa, interpreted as a kitchen – as well as the east entrance to the villa.
- A new drainage system probably connected to the disposal of waste water.
New discoveries continue to be made, and we are hopeful that the future will help us unearth the past of this great civilization.
G. De Tommaso, C. Megale, F. Ghizzani Marcìa, "La villa di Poggio del Molino e il progetto Archeodig: un nuovo approccio all archeologia sul campo ", in “Materiali per Populonia 9”, pp. 163-180.
“Poggio del Molino: campagna di scavo 2009", Report submitted to the Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage in Tuscany.
G. De Tommaso, F. Ghizzani Marcìa, C. Megale, Piombino (Li). Populonia, Villa di Poggio del Molino: nuove indagini, le campagne 2008 e 2009, «Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dellla Toscana», 5/2009, 2010, pp. 352-356.
G. De Tommaso, C. Megale, S. Genovesi, Piombino (Li). Populonia, Villa di Poggio del Molino: breve sintesi della campagna di scavo 2010, «Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dellla Toscana», 6/2010, 2011, pp. 364-369.
G. De Tommaso, C. Megale, S. Genovesi, C. Corona, C. Baione, Piombino (Li). Populonia, Villa di Poggio del Molino: breve sintesi della campagna di scavo 2011, «Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dellla Toscana», 7/2011, 2012, pp. 313-318.
A. Semplici, Baratti and Populonia Archaeological Park. A guide to discovering the landscape, 2008, Firenze.
G. De Tommaso, Populonia. A city and its territory. Guide to the Archaeological Museum of Piombino, 2004, Tavarnelle V.P. (FI).
Zifferero (ed.), L'archittettura funeraria a Populonia tra IX e VI secolo a.C.. Atti del convegno (Castello di Populonia, 30-31 Ottobre 1997), 2000, Firenze.
F. Fedeli, A. Galimberti, A. Romualdi, Populonia e il suo territorio. Profilo storico-archeologico, 1993, Firenze.
F. Fedeli, Populonia e il suo territorio, 1983, Firenze.