A unique architectural site
of Etruscan origin
In the municipality of Castelnuovo Val di Cecina, close to Sasso Pisano, remains of an important thermal complex of Etruscan origins were found.
For now, it’s the only example of such a structure in the area of what once was Etruria. These thermal baths were probably very important from a religious point of view, since the Etruscans linked the healing power of its waters to their gods.
As a matter of fact, the water from the hot springs was channeled into the complex’s pools and used by the ministers-healers to cure diseases. Remains of religious and hospitality buildings were found. That’s probably where pilgrims stayed whenever they came to the thermal baths to treat their diseases and worship their gods of health.
AN ETRUSCAN ROOFING TILE
After a roofing tile with an Etruscan seal was unearthed, the following archaeological excavations have partially brought back to life an architectural complex that is the only complex of its kind to have so far been discovered in Northern Etruria, developing in various sectors and over a long period of time. The hypothesis of the complex being sacred has been confirmed by the discovery of two small statues: one in lead and tin representing the goddess “Menerva”, and one small votive statue in bronze, both clearly in the same style as other Volterran statues.
In existence for many centuries
The original structure consisted of a monumental stoà (a large portico) in three sections, and then in the first half of the 2nd century BC, baths were added alongside a part of the walls of the portico. The area was later damaged by a large landslide which tore part of the structure away, carrying it down into the valley. Following a period of almost a century in which the structure fell into disuse, the buildings were restored and used until late 3rd century and early 4th century AD.
The monumental nature and the sheer size of the complex, which extends well beyond the examined area, would suggest an identification as one of the two bathing complexes – Aquae Volaterrae and Aquae Populoniae – shown in the 4th segment of the Tabula Peutingeriana, a military map of the Roman Empire. The location of the site on the borders between the territories of Volterra and Populonia, and other archaeological data lead to the conclusion that this area was an outpost of the Volterran dominion.