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The chronology of Villas and the second-century "crisis"

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Chapter Summary

In publications on villa-sites in Italy it is not uncommon to read that, starting in the second century A.D., and continuing into the third, villas were progressively being abandoned; their function as elite residences and production units for cash crops ceased, while squatters dwelled in precarious living conditions in the abandoned structures. Archaeologists reached these conclusions on the basis of evidence for the subdivision of large rooms into smaller living quarters, of poor, crude repairs, and the reutilization of elegant residential parts for utilitarian purposes, such as workshops, storerooms, and so on. Different regional situations need to be taken into account in trying to explain the fragmented picture presented by the chronology of rural villas in Central Italy. Recent studies focusing on Central Italy are adding new data and working to correct the theory of a second-century crisis.

Keywords: archaeologists; Central Italy; chronology of rural villas; second-century crisis; villa-sites



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