Paleo-Venetian and roman pre-existence

Padova Plan of Padua with location of the places of worship. At n. 4: via C. Battisti - "Pozzo Dipinto" (da Zampieri 1994, pag. 41)

During the ancient age the city of Padova developed mainly inside the bend of the river Brenta, where the economic and commercial activities linked to the active river port, between the Roman bridges S. Lorenzo and Altinate, were concentrated.

Outside this area, to the east, extended the area that in the following centuries had S. Caterina at its centre and that was intended for private building expansion, necropolises and places of worship: It was already characterised in this way in the Paleo-Venetian age, as highlighted by archaeological excavations, which brought to light structures of houses prior to the Romanisation of the city, but also small votive deposits connected to places of worship and domestic-type shrines, i.e. small symbolic bronze objects, generally placed in the foundations of dwellings for auspicious purposes or in any case linked to propitiatory domestic ceremonies (Zampieri 1994, p. 40).

 

Statuetta bronzea Statuetta bronzea Statuetta bronzea

Statuetta bronzea Statuetta bronzea Pendaglio Votive deposits of the Pozzo Dipinto: bronze statuettes with devotee, warriors attacking and on horseback and pendant, Padova, Musei Civici - Museo Archeologico

An example is this deposit found in the area of the Pozzo Dipinto (now via C. Battisti): it is not possible to determine its exact location, if in relation to the first stretch of via C. Battisti, which at the time of its discovery (1883) was called Pozzo Dipinto, or at the intersection of Via C. Battisti and Via Santa Sofia. The oldest materials of the complex seem to date back to the IV-III century BC. (nn. 1-4), while the rest (nn. 5-6) belong to the Roman age (Zampieri 1994, p. 116).

Mosaico romano via C.Battisti 1 Floor in opus tessellatum found in via Cesare Battisti, Padova, Musei Civici - Museo Archeologico, inv. 828

In continuity with the previous Paleo-Venetian phase, in the area, several Roman-era records have been found, for example, large stretches of road and numerous mosaic floors attributable to human abodes, probably an indication of the presence of a stately residential quarter (Zampieri 1999, pp. 41-42).

00-Mosaico romano,Via C. Battisti-part.uccello1Detail of the floor in opus tessellatum found in via Cesare Battisti, Padova, Musei Civici - Museo Archeologico, inv. 828

Among them, the fragment found in via C. Battisti in 1955 dates back to the first century A.D.: it is a floor made of opus tessellatum (or tessellated work), i.e. made of tesserae closely connected to each other, so as to create a compact surface. It shows a black linear border on a white background, delimiting a group of eight polychrome panels, with rosettes consisting of eight petals alternating with stems with leaves and flowers and bordered by rectangles and squares. In the centre is a square, also polychrome, bearing a small tree with small leaves and twigs, on which two birds rest, and enclosed by a black background band with polychrome leaves tied by ribbons. The lively polychromy and the skilful combination of colours, lighter in the centre of the petals, darker at the ends, give the illusion that the petals are flexible towards the outside (Corso 1982, pp. 98-100). This is a mosaic of remarkable quality, as shown by the choice to represent animal subjects, which is extremely rare in other mosaic floors found in the city (Zampieri 1994, p. 155).

00-Tesoretto Via GabelliLittle treasure of via A. Gabelli: clay vase containing denari (money), Padova, Museo Bottacin

An interesting discovery from the Roman age, which took place in November 1953, is the so-called Tesoretto di via A. Gabelli (Little treasure of via A. Gabelli), made up of 659 republican denari (minted by Caesar after the battle of Tapso on 6th April 46 B.C.) preserved in a coarse clay pot. The unknown possessor could have been a legionnaire who received the treasure as a gift as an active participant in the above-mentioned battle and civil war: he then hid it and, due to death or other reasons, was no longer able to recover the hidden money (Zampieri 1999, p. 37).

00-ingr.111922-Busto di SilenoBust of Silenus in marble, Padova, Musei Civici - Museo Archeologico






Another discovery (1924) in via C. Battisti is the Bust of Silenus of the second half of the II century A.D. It is a Roman copy taken from a Hellenistic original, rightly defined as «one of the most beautiful pieces of Roman sculpture in the Archaeological Museum of Padova» (Zampieri 1999, p. 132): the face of the elderly Silenus is in fact rendered in a very expressionistic manner, with frowning, protruding eyebrows and sunken eyes, in a contrast of light and shadow that gives the character a tormented expression. The size of the fragment is such as to suggest that, on the whole, the statue was larger than natural, while the fact that the work on the back is less meticulous than on the front suggests that the sculpture was leaning against a wal