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"Possibly the most intimate insight into the private lives of our Roman ancestors we have yet been privileged to uncover", says County Archeologist Professor Deepa Trench as he reveals, to an expectant audience [Derek [73] and Edwina [46-48-52] Klulas], his team's latest finds at the Villa Romana, Hinton Parva. [Enough of the historic present, it doesn't work [Ed].]

The villa, allegedly the home of Roman legate Titus Aduxas [41BC-23AD], is widely considered the finest and most complete Roman domestic complex to have been found in the county. Under the auspices of Dorset Heritage, it welcomes dozens of visitors each summer*.

* The villa was first excavated by archeologists from the University of Afpuddle in 1926 following the discovery of a tile fragment by a farmer out shooting rabbits. Subsequent annual digs have seen the extent of the site expanded from an initial 2 hectares to over 320 acres as room after room has been uncovered, making the villa, in the words of veteran archeologist - Basil Bone - "the Casa Enrique" ** of its era". Perhaps the most fascinating discovery until this year's was that of the Room of the Hyperstyle Hypercaust Hyperactive Hyperion, believed to be the epicentre of the cult of the Penisian Apollon or Phallus Gigantis - clues to the nature of which were found in a surprisingly well-preserved wooden cabinet bearing the inscription "Noli intrare. Usui tantum consentiendo nobiles in Festo Dianae magnorum mammariorum. Post usum Quaeso lava" [Keep out. For use only by consenting nobles at the Feast of Artemis of the big mammaries. Please wash after use].

Interest in this season's dig at the Villa - the best preserved Roman homestead in the county - has been huge following last season's tantalising discovery of the edge of a mosaic floor in the hitherto unexplored south-western corner of the now very extensive site. "We've been waiting with bated breath all Winter to see what the rest of it looks like and what it will tell us" says Department of Archeology administrator Gathermor Cash. For Mr Cash as for the rest of us the wait is now, happily, over.

Archeologists from the University of Afpuddle in 1926, [from left to right] Dr Seymour Sytz, Herr Dr Dr Manny Fyndes and Basil Bone.

Significant extensions to the excavations south west of the Hyperstyle Hypercaust Hyperactive Hyperion [Site Ref VRHR 2024/xviiiib] between April and September of this year have led to the uncovering of more of the mosaic suggesting that it is unique in Roman Dorset in that it allows us to identify with 28% certainty the villa's actual owner. It would - if confirmed - add significant weight to the suggestion - first proposed by Basil Bone in 1929 - that the villa belonged to an influential local legate named Titus Aduxas. Famed for his love of animals, he was described by later historians as "S. Francisci versio prava" *[See below for a detailed commentary.]

** The full quotation reads "S. Francisci versio prava, in cuius praesentia nullum animal latuit" ["A wicked version of St Francis in whose presence no animal went unnoticed"]

The Newley discover mosaic: as excavated [ABOVE] and as reconstructed by Threadbone Digilabs' ARCHEO3 photo-interpolative software [BELOW


Please note the mosaic is more easily "read" if we refer to the reconstruction [BELOW] rather than the incomplete original.

The figure bottom left is clearly an excited Titus Aduxas channelling a satyr. We need not assume that the depiction of the subject's penis [particularly its length and girth] is literal; rather we should see this as an assertion of status designed simultaneoulsy to impress female visitors to the house and intimidate any a accompanying males. That said - and despite the known element of caricature common to many Roman depictions of powerful men - the expression on the soon to be "addressed" duck's face suggests that Titus was a well-endowed citizen of powerful mein and some determination. Though the second more centrally placed duck appears to have "got away" its expression might be interpreted as one of relief, fear for its companion or, more likely, remembered angst from a previous encounter with the main subject*. The slave in the top right hand corner is almost certainly gathering copra, though at least one authority suggests that his posture is one of submission to his master with a retrospective reference to the fear experienced during a previous and perhaps routine assault [sexual or otherwise] suggesting that he is, in fact, clearing up a mess after having, understandably, "shat himself".

*This is by some measure the most controversial aspect of the reconstruction since in the original [ABOVE] the "duck" is a somewhat indeterminate object resembling perhaps a shell, a prawn or a fig. Hard to determine precisely, the archeological team has relied heavily on proprietary software to make the case for another endangered creature.

The bowl of fruit is self-explanatory; though much conjecture surrounds the object on the extreme right. If it is - as some suggest - the excited and protruding "member" of one of Titus Aduxas's entourage - then the duck may be running towards as much as away from danger - hence the "resignation to fate" which some detect in both its body language and mournful demeanour.

Students from the University of Afpuddle excavating yet another mosaic whilst awaiting their examination results and final bills.

Although this season's dig has now closed down in preparation for the winter, a facsimile of the reconstructed mosaic will go on show as part of the "Professor Thrupiece, Archeology and the Discovery of Roman Dorset" Exhibition curated by Alma Mater College Fellow Eddie Stobbart-Trukz in the Edna Whisky-McNightly Gallery of the Hilton Parva Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. A full audio commentary is available to visitors with an expurgated version for under 15s in which any reference to "huge rampant and distended phalluses" is replaced by a [very] short talk on the history of animal rights legislation in the later Roman period.

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