Natascia CACCETTA1 / Giovanna PATTI2
(1Facoltà di Architettura, Firenze, Italia / 2Università degli studi di Roma “La Sapienza”, Italy)


The roman emperor villas have often solutions closest to the urban scale then to the architectonical one, inside their structure, a series of important sub-systems can be identified to connect and enhance the same tissue of this small town. This research will focus over those special, spectacular – and now almost lost – monuments dedicated to the presentation of epical and legendary events, capable to keep alive a tradition from an emperor to the other, the statues derived from the Homeric literature find their place in architectonical spaces with specific shape and function.

In this sense the Italian archaeological heritage, from the imperial Roman era, offers two case studies both of extreme interest, the first is located in Tiberius’s villa in Sperlonga (first half of I century b.C.), and the other is the ensemble of the Serapeo in the Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli (118 a.C.).


The whole research is based on accurate digital survey (with an integration of laser scanner, topographic and photographic instruments) of the architectures and of the statuary groups, it proposes an approach path that starts from an analysis of the naturals forms of the Tiberius’s antrum in Sperlonga, this solution will become completely artificial in its forms in the Serapeo-Canopo of Hadrian’s Villa. The Antra Cyclopis change their appearance over time, but they always retain the same function and especially the theme of the sculptural decoration, that appears in other imperial coenatio such as the Claudius’s Nymphaeum in Baia and the Domitian’s Niymphaeum so-called Bergantino.

The statues that once adorned the Antra Cyclopis today have a different location than the original. Their location in museums has misrepresented the original appearance of Antra Cyclopis. The digital survey, and the successive processing of the gathered data, producing tridimensional digital models, allows, for first, to replace virtually the sculptures in their old setting recreating the original scenography of the coenatio of Sperlonga and this has proved the effective presence of the statues in the place assumed by archaeologists. Secondly, the dimensional analysis leads to rule out the assumption that many scholars argue, about the presence of a Cyclops, equal in size to the one from Sperlonga, in the Serapeum of the Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli.

The strictly digital approach to the problems of the statuary groups allows us to study this architectural ensemble in each single part. With this approach, even those areas that are placed in hardly reachable positions can be easily analyzed without the use of any scaffolding. In the case of Sperlonga a full analysis of the intrados of the cave was made, and through the production of contour lines we identified a collapsed zone, this is an important find, while the archaeologists had not yet located it, for this reason it has attracted a particular interest, opening the road to a possible debate on the historical vicissitudes of the events occurred there.


Antra Cyclopis Archaeology Digital Laserscan