Collapsed piles of terra sigillata pots
Collapsed piles of terra sigillata pots

The Marzuolo Archaeological Project

2016 until 2025
Project member(s)
Prof. A. Van Oyen (Astrid) , Dr Tol, G. (Gijs) (University of Melbourne) , Dr Vennarucci, R.G. (Rhodora) (University of Arkansas)
Project type

This projects investigates the Roman-period site of Podere Marzuolo in rural southern Tuscany, Italy. Using targeted excavation, spatial and scientific data analysis, 3D-modelling and material studies, this project aims to highlight the potential of the site to function as a paragon of the varied nature of Roman rural settlement.

Situated ca. 40km away from the coast and from the nearest urban settlement of Roselle, the site finds itself in a landscape populated by small-scale peasant activity sites. The site itself is of a type poorly documented to date for the Roman world: excavations reveal an original villa rustica that in the first half of the 1st century AD was repurposed as a craft production centre.

This second phase centres around a large complex (of which to date ca. 1500m2 has been excavated) that existed for only a few generations before it burnt down and was abandoned. The complex consists of a sequence of large cells dedicated to artisanal production, which opened onto a portico that may have flanked a central courtyard. Excavated features include a combined blacksmith and woodworking workshop (with all the original features and a complete set of tools and instruments preserved) and a storage room containing collapsed piles of ca. 400 vessels in terra sigillata, the iconic red-slipped tableware that was distributed throughout the Mediterranean during the Early Imperial period.


2022. A. Van Oyen, G.W. Tol, R.G. Vennarucci, A. Agostini, V. Serneels, A.M. Mercuri, E. Rattighieri, and A. Benatti. Forging the Roman rural economy: a blacksmithing workshop and its toolset at Marzuolo (Tuscany). American Journal of Archaeology 126(1), 53-77. 

2021. Van Oyen, A., G.W. Tol and R.G. Vennarucci. The missing link: a nucleated rural centre at Podere Marzuolo (Cinigiano – Grosseto). In A. Sebastiani and C. Megale, eds. Archaeological Landscapes of Roman Etruria. Research and Field Papers (MEDITO 1). Turnhout: Brepols, 237–50. 

2020. A. Van Oyen. Innovation and investment in the Roman rural economy through the lens of Marzuolo (Tuscany, Italy). Past & Present 248(1), 3–40.

2019. Van Oyen, A., R.G. Vennarucci, A.L. Fischetti and G.W. Tol. Un centro artigianale di epoca romana: terzo anno di scavo a Podere Marzuolo (Cinigiano, GR). Bollettino di Archeologia Online 10(3-4), 71–84.

2018. R.G. Vennarucci, A. Van Oyen, G.W. Tol. Cinigiano (GR). Una comunità artigianale nella Toscana rurale: il sito di Marzuolo. In V. Nizzo and A. Pizzo, eds. Antico e non antico. Scritti multidisciplinari offerti a Giuseppe Pucci. Sesto San Giovanni: Mimesis Edizioni, 589–97. Publicly accessible online database:


  • Cornell University (2017-2022)
  • Loeb Classical Library Foundation (2018; 2022)
  • President’s Council of Cornell Women (2017)
  • Archaeological Institute of America (2016)
  • University of Cambridge (2016)


  • University of Melbourne
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Modena
  • Reggio Emilia Fitch Laboratory, Athens

Contact information