University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Excavations at Cosa

July 29, 2013

My name is Sophie Crawford-Brown and I am going into my second year at Penn as a PhD student in Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World. Thanks to the generous support of the Penn Museum, I was able to excavate at a fascinating site in Italy this summer. The dig team was staying in a Medieval tower which (not surprisingly) had no internet connection, so I was not able to make regular posts. Now that I am back (better late than never!) I can share some of the experience I had.

The site is Cosa—a Roman colony founded in 273 BCE. It sits atop a large hill, and offers a commanding view of the sea below.

View from Cosa
View from Cosa

Cosa provides some of our best evidence for Republican architecture on the Italian peninsula, and boasts beautifully preserved city walls, temples, and a forum.

City Walls
City Walls
Cosa's Capitolium
Cosa’s Capitolium

This summer marked the beginning of a new research initiative at the site, as a team of archaeologists from several universities set about excavating Cosa’s bath complex. Because most Roman houses did not have private baths, large public bathing facilities were a key ingredient of any Roman town. They provided a place where people could mingle, relax, and of course get clean! Cosa has no natural fresh water source, so part of our work involved studying the hydraulic systems created to supply the baths. Here is a photo of the team standing in a large reservoir near the baths—one of many constructions designed to collect and conserve water.


Another very exciting project underway at Cosa is the conservation of mosaics at the so-called “House of Diana.”

Mosaic floor from the House of Diana
Mosaic floor from the House of Diana

To see more images of our work at the site, explore Cosa’s facebook page:

  • Landon Thorne

    Hi Sophie: I read your blog and felt that you needed at least one comment. Leslie and I had a wonderful time getting to know you this summer. We hope that you’ll be back. All the best, Landon

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