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  • Lori-Ann Touchette

Discovery of a Renaissance Kiln

Excavations from 1998-2000 in the Forum of Trajan led to the discovery of a Renaissance kiln that provides precious evidence for ceramic production in Rome from the end of the 15th through 16th centuries. Five phases dating from 1500-1600 identified in further excavations (2007, 2016) make it possible to trace its construction and successive transformations in the course of the century.

Archival research reveals the presence of three potters with workshops in the area: Giovanni Boni from Brescia, Tommaso Valentini of Perugia and Sebastiano from Faenza (the later perhaps an artisan). The kiln and the nearby house seem to belong to Giovanni Boni who died in 1520. Two piles of discarded ceramic fragments (more than 19,000) date to the late 15th and first half of the 16th centuries respectively. The fragments in just one of them weigh 385,1kg. The majority of the fragments are bisqued but circa 25% are glazed with a simple white glaze or maiolica. Most of the production was composed of jugs and albarelli (pharmacy jars) but plates and bowls were also present. Also fascinating are sketches on fragments or unfinished pieces and incised or painted inventories of the workshop. Other finds included tools for loading the kiln and three-pointed stilts. In 2017, the exhibition “I fori dopo i fori” in the Mercati di Traiano presented the ceramic material for the first time.


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