Vagnari Roman Imperial Estate
Vagnari is located in the rolling hills of Puglia (ancient Apulia), just east of the Apennine mountains and about 12 km west of the town of Gravina (near ancient Botromagno). After the Roman conquest of south-east Italy in the third century B.C., Rome maintained direct links to the region by one of its main roads, the Via Appia. Large pre-Roman settlements went into decline from this time, and their lands may have been confiscated by the Romans. After the conquest, wealthy Romans of the senatorial class appropriated tracts of Apulian land, and emperors later followed suit, acquiring properties and developing imperial business assets here. The imperial estate at Vagnari is one of these.
The current interdisciplinary and collaborative research at Vagnari focuses on the central estate village (vicus) and its associated necropolis. Excavations in the vicus focus on the evidence for manufacturing, agricultural production, and consumption to gain an understanding of elite involvement in the exploitation of the landscape and the control over labour. Research on the cemetery and its occupants investigates the geographic origins of the Vagnari inhabitants and explores evidence for diet, health, and disease in this Roman population. By combining archaeological and bioanthropological evidence, the potential is considerable for significantly advancing our knowledge of health, disease, and the living and working conditions in rural Roman Italy from the first to third centuries A.D.
Excavations in the vicus are conducted by the University of Sheffield, under the direction of Prof. Maureen Carroll.
Excavations in the cemetery are conducted by McMaster University, under the direction of Prof. Tracy Prowse.