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Lecture: Roman Empire: Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an archaeology class. Professor: Now, during the heyday of the Roman Empire, say the first 350 years or so, starting around 27 B.C.E., Rome was the political and economic center of Europe. And needless to say, its emperors controlled a lot of wealth. One of the ways in which they used their wealth was by building dozens of villas, massive country homes, throughout Italy and southeastern Europe. And while they were impressive, with temples, libraries, baths, gardens, and outdoor pools, these imperial villas were about quite a bit more than just impressing people. One practical purpose was to give the emperor a place to escape from the heat of Rome summers. In the 18th century, when people first started excavating some of these villas, it was basically just treasure hunters, people looking to get wealthy by unearthing marble sculptures, roscoe rooms, that sort of things. But it was only through more serious excavation beginning in the 19th century that archaeologists first began to develop a more detailed picture of these estates. Some of the artwork they found gives us a window into the differences between the official and private lives of the emperor. In the villa of Tiberius, an early emperor, in his villa on the Mediterranean coast near Naples, archaeologists found a lot of marble fragments, which when put together, turned out to be a group of massive marble sculptures of creatures out of Roman mythology. It's the kind of story-telling scene you might not see in the city of Rome itself. Sculpture in the city was all about glorifying the emperor. But in the country, emperors were able to experiment more and experiment they did. The Emperor Hadrian's villa for instance, contains examples of many different architectural styles. Hadrian was one of the most traveled emperors, and this was reflected in his villa. He built a large complex that included baths and back buildings, libraries, sculpture gardens, theaters, and temples in Egyptian, Greek, and Roman styles. Villas also serve an economic purpose. Many were self-supporting, working farms. They planted grains and some had vineyards and produced wine. These villas were less like summer homes and more like escape where hundreds of people could live and work. There's one in particular that I want to mention that belongs to the emperor Diocletian who ruled at the end of third and into the 4th century C.E. When archaeologists first looked around Diocletian's estate, which is located in modern day Croatia, they found an aqueduct designed to carry water to the villa. But it seemed much too big just to be supplying a residence. This got them interested, so they took a closer look at the area around the villa and found that it was ideal for making fabric. We know there were lots of sheep in the surrounding hills at the time and if the local water had sulfur in it which is good for making dyes. So, by piecing this information together about the environment around the villa, as well as the size of the aqueduct, we can pretty safely assume that Diocletian's estate was the site of a textile factory, one that probably employed thousands of people. And going back to Tiberius' villa, there archaeologists found several rectangular depressions filled with seawater. At first, we thought they were just decorative pools which you see in many Roman estates. But when we took a closer look, it turns out there were little round holes set into the sides of the pools. These holes would be the perfect size for fish to lay eggs in. So, it looks like these pools were actually fish farms and would've produced enough to feed everyone in the villa, maybe even supply fish markets in Rome. Now, right from the beginning of the Roman Empire, there were landowners who also built villas. They built big estates with farms or factories to generate income, and eventually, there were all of these villas out in the country, each with quite a bit of economic power. And with such strong economies in the villas, power became decentralized. It's possible as the villas expanded and the political situation of Rome got more and more unstable, these high-producing estates have actually contributed to the decline of the empire.