University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Back to the Baths: Season 3 at Cosa – Sophie Crawford-Brown


By: Anne Tiballi

August 21, 2015

Every year, the Penn Museum provides support to Penn undergraduates and graduate students as they deepen their understanding of the human experience outside the Museum’s walls. Follow these blog posts from our intrepid young scholars as they report on the sights and sites that they encounter throughout their travels in the field.


At the beginning of June, the team returned to Cosa for our third season excavating the large bath complex near the forum.

Me with the museum cat—the newest addition to our team!
Me with the museum cat—the newest addition to our team! Photo credit: author

Cosa was founded as a Latin colony in 273 BCE. It sits high on a hill overlooking the plains and port below—a stunning view for us excavators as we sweat in the afternoon sun.

View of Cosa (photo by Matthew Brennan)
View of Cosa (Photo by Matthew Brennan)

In our first two seasons, we uncovered a laconicum (a round heated room), as well as several façade walls on the southern and eastern edges of the complex. Further investigation in the 2015 season revealed an impressive staircase leading directly from the street into the bathhouse!

Aerial view of our excavation area. The round outline of the laconicum is visible on the left (photo by Matthew Brennan).
Aerial view of our excavation area. The round outline of the laconicum is visible on the left (Photo by Matthew Brennan).

Close-up of the floor with its herringbone pattern.
Close-up of the floor with its herringbone pattern. Photo credit: author
With the perimeter walls better defined, we focused our efforts this season on the baths’ interior. My trench was between the laconicum and the area I worked in last year. In fact, one of the same plaster-faced walls uncovered at the end of the 2014 season extended all the way through the new trench! It marks the edge of a very large room, which seems to have been re-worked over multiple phases. A beautiful floor is still preserved at the bottom of the trench, part of which is finished in a herringbone pattern.

Matt photographing the trench at the end of the season.
Matt photographing the trench at the end of the season. Photo credit: author

Season after season, we are slowly gaining a better picture of what the baths would have looked like in their heyday. I can’t wait to see what 2016 will reveal!


For more information on our project, visit: http://www.cosaexcavations.org/

To read our daily excavation blog, visit: http://cosaexcavations.blogspot.it/

To view 3D models of the site, visit: https://sketchfab.com/matthewbrennan/folders/af22e37edf8840c0be5bcc07c0a52c4e


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