Il mosaico trasformato: un pavimento di una villa tardoantica nella Toscana costiera

Author: Elisabetta Giorgi, Enrico Zanini

The Transformed Mosaic: the Floor of a Late-Antique Villa on the Coast of Tuscany

During the last field season (September 2014), in the archaeological area of Vignale (near Piombino, on the Tuscan coast) a large late antique floor mosaic was discovered. The mosaic was originally unearthed probably around 1860, but it was soon concealed under the floor of a barn that protected it from the hard ploughing in the subsequent decades. The original mosaic dates from the second quarter of the 4th century A.D. It was probably intended to decorate a luxurious reception hall in a large Late Antique countryside mansion, erected on a site that was already used since from the 2nd century B.C.
This first mosaic was divided into four sections: three of them decorated with geometrical patterns, while the central hosted a young male figure, seated on a celestial globe and holding the ring of the Time. On the four corners of the same panel the images of four Seasons were depicted: after this, the central figure could be interpreted quite likely as a personification of Time itself (Aion/Annus/Saeculum frugiferum).
After an undefined span of time, a large part of the central panel was reorganized: at least three of the Season’s images were redone, the iconography of the central figure was altered, with a rude insertion of a new head on the old body, and a large part of the background was covered with racemes hosting two couples of birds. Whether these changes were intended just as a restoration of a damage suffered by the mosaic or as a mayor reorganization of the overall iconography is, at the moment, matter of spe­culation.