Nice piece in the LA Times about the state of archaeology versus preservation in Rome. Susan Spano covers a number of sites, but focuses on the Villa delle Vignacce, formerly owned by Quintus Servilius Pudens.
It is unclear whether the multistory bathhouse, with its intact Roman saunas, was part of a private villa or a public complex.
In either case, the site calls into question long-held concepts about the configuration of Imperial Rome.
"To find an urban-style bathhouse in suburban Rome is striking," said Darius Arya, the institute's director.
Lacking funds to preserve the dig last winter, Arya summoned an earth mover to cover it, obscuring the hard evidence of the discovery.
Before doing so, however, he enlisted Gabriele Guidi, an associate professor at Milan Polytechnic, to document the site. Using advanced laser technology, they assembled a virtually enhanced plan of the bathing complex.
That's good news for scholars, but of scant interest to tourists. Arya said that shoring up the site, encircling it with a semi-permanent fence and building roof structures to protect it from the elements during the digging off-season, which usually lasts from October to April, would have cost more than $500,000.
In 2006 and 2007, excavation work at Villa delle Vignacce was underwritten first by the