The birthplace of Emperor Vespasian found?

Posted: September 16, 2009 in Archaeology, Excavation, History
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Italian and British archaeologists in Italy have unearthed a large country villa which they believe to be the birthplace of Vespasian, the Roman emperor who ordered the beginning of the “Colosseums” construction.

The 2,000 year old ruins were found about 80 miles northeast of Rome near Cittareale. Some of the rooms in the villa had floors covered with marble slabs which was being imported from different places within the Roman Empire. The villa which is 150 000 square feet is at the center of the ancient village of Falacrine which was Vespasians hometown.

One of the archaeologists says about the doubt other archaeologists have if it is really the birthplace of Vespasian: “Let’s say that we are pretty confident that this is the villa where Vespasian was born – also given the fact that there are no other possible hypothesis“. The archaeologists also  says “even though there are no inscriptions to attribute it for certain, the villa’s location and luxury make it likely it was Vespasian’s birthplace“.

In part of the statements I tend to do disagree with the archaeologist. I agree with it could be the birthplace and it is possible and maybe as well be likely since it is a large villa and seem to be rather exclusive. But for one thing is there any ancient texts that mentions Vespasian’s villa where he grew up? Or does the archaeologist just presume that since he later became the emperor he most have grown up in the biggest and richest villa in Falacrine? It might be possible but there could as well be other undiscovered villas in the area which are even larger and more exclusive even if it’s not likely. As an archaeologist you have to expect the unexpected!

The lack of inscriptions also makes it harder to connect it to Vespasian but even if there was one, I would be surprised if it said “this is the birthplace of Vespasian who later become Emperor of Rome”. But the worst thing is when the evidence is presented as that it is the birthplace because there are no other possible hypothesis I’m almost scared. That’s is just some bad rhetoric. You are just going in circles, “there are no evidence that is more plausible than mine so mine is the most plausible and automatically is the right one”. You shouldn’t say that as a scientist we are meant to have a critical eye on things.  It is just as plausible that he lived somewhere else. If you would have done a total excavation of the village and this was the biggest and most luxuries house it might be a bit more plausible since he probably was from quite a wealthy family to later become the Emperor of Rome.

As an archaeologist and scientist it is important to do two things, you must be critical of your own and others research but as well sometime you have to jump off the cliff and take a chance. Put your foot down and say” according to what we know at the moment we think this is x and y but it might change. But our current theory is the most likely in this moment in our opinion but needs more research and debate”. So I give cred to the archaeologists on this excavation to stand up and say we think this is the birthplace of Vespasian. It is a lot better to say that than it is just a big villa or even worse we don’t know and don’t have any theories whatsoever.

You could read the full article here and there is also a video from the excavation

It can be tricky but great fun to be an archaeologist and a scientist!


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