Saturday, March 22, 2014


Artificial hill also known as Monte dei Cocci, Mons Testaceum
It was an ancient Roman specialized landfill consisting of many layers of neatly broken oil amphorae
About 30 m (98 feet) high on the surrounding area and about 54 m (177 feet) above sea level
It has a circumference of 1 km (0.62 miles), covering a total area of 20,000 m² (5 acres), forming a sort of irregular triangle
The amphorae (testae in Latin, hence the name of the mountain) were landed in the nearby river port on the Tiber, and destined to be sold in Rome
It is estimated that there are about 40 million pieces of amphorae
A ramp, probably old, was traveled by wagon, and then bifurcated on the northeast corner
The hill was used for about 300 years, from the late republic to the mid-third century AD but the dating of amphorae found to date ranges between 140 and the third century AD
It is estimated that every inhabitant of Rome consumed on average about 22 kg (48.5 pounds) of oil a year, especially for lighting
In later centuries along the base of the hill caves were dug, used as cellars for the wine of the Castelli Romani (Roman Hills) and stables as well (the so-called grottini), on which houses were built renovated today as restaurants and nightclubs
Still in medieval times carnival was celebrated here, with the cruel and bloody games always dear to the Romans. In fact, bullfighting was held here as well as the popular favorite "Ruzzica de li porci": carts of live pigs were thrown down the hill and when they were dashed to pieces at the bottom, people would hunt the stunned animals
From the fifteenth century when the carnival was moved to the Via Lata by the will of Pope Paul II Barbo (1464/71), the hill became the arrival point for the Via Crucis, the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, becoming a veritable Golgotha, as shown in the cross still stuck on top. Later it became a favorite destination for the Ottobrate, the typical October Roman feasts, when festively decorated carts were brought to the taverns and wine cellars of Testaccio
In 1931 Raffaele De Vico (1881/1969) structured Monte Testaccio as a public park
The amphorae found during excavations were only the most superficial, mainly from Betica (now Andalusia) and also from Africa with a nearly spherical shape and the trademark on one of the two loops. They are called Dressel 20. The name of the exporter was written with a brush as well as the consular date, and the log of the various controls from start to finish
The deposit was not accidental, it was rather neatly constructed, and it was periodically sprayed with lime to sanitize the decomposition of the organic remains contained in the pieces
From the study of the amphorae in this hill it would be possible to write an economic history of the ancient city of Rome

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