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+39 0736 253562
Piazza Arringo, 28 - 63100 Ascoli Piceno
+39 0736 253562
Piazza Arringo, 28 - 63100 Ascoli Piceno

The mosaics of Palazzo di Giustizia

A succession of portions of buildings tells a 1500-year story. This succession features a range of portions that includes the Roman opus signinum floor,  which is a sort of very water-resistant cement, made with lime and finely ground fragments of stone and terracotta; the lower portion of a mediaeval tower with a quadrangular base; a staircase and a wall of a 15th century private house; the Renaissance setting of a garden.  All these elements have come to light again thanks to an archaeological excavation carried out in the early 2000s to solve a problem of water seepage.
Floor mosaics belonging to a residential complex that consisted of two or perhaps three domus from the 1st century AD were found in the mid-20th century during the dig to lay the foundations of the current courthouse of Ascoli.


Head of Traianus

Ascoli Piceno – Palazzo di Giustizia Marble beginning of 2nd century AD

The portray depicts the emperor Traianus (98 – 117 AD) at an advanced age, and follows a model that is found in a scene of the Traianus column. Here, the princeps is performing a sacrifice. The expression on his face is peaceful. His nose must have be prominent. His lips must have been tightly pressed together and thin, while his chin was small. Hair is arranged in long locks towards the low, wrinkled forehead; his look is intense, focused, faraway, and sharp. The head, which was more or less actual size, had been made to be part of a statue, now lost, thanks to the invisible pivot under the neck. The cut on the nape and the presence of small holes indicate that the statue was probably leaning against the wall and that it was hooked onto it through metal supports. This elegant, accurate piece of art must have certainly been located in a public place. It was found in an elegant dwelling during the dig for the restoration of the Palazzo di Giustizia in Ascoli during the 20th century. This finding location may lead to think that the owners of the domus were linked to the imperial family.

Mosaic floor

Ascoli Piceno – Palazzo di Giustizia
1st century AD

The floor of an elegant dining room (triclinium) of a magnificent domus shows its sophisticated design.

Two ivy branches separate a pattern of hexagons that has a black border and a white background from a rectangle that has a more complex image. The latter corresponds to the space that was left empty at the centre and in front of the triclinia. These were couches used by the ancient Romans for reclining at meals.

The space description from the outer part towards the inner one shows a braid-shaped border followed by four alternate black and with lines.   Closer to the centre, there are branches with very few leaves and flowers. At the centre, a wave-bordered circle contains a motif of black and white flakes that get tinier and tinier towards the inner part.  A coloured braid-shaped frame encircles a face made of opus vermiculatum, which is a type of mosaic made of few millimetre tesserae that allow to create the numerous shades of colour of the subject.

This image changes depending on the viewer observation point. The visitor sees the face of a bald bearded elderly man first, but the figure becomes a young man with smooth hairless cheeks and think hair after a tour of the room.

It is an illusion that could have a philosophical interpretation linked to the opposite concepts of youth and old age.


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