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Roman World 800BC-AD324

Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli

The vast and lavishly decorated villa built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian at Tivoli, about 20 miles east of Rome, was used during the medieval period as a quarry for building material. By the 15th century antiquarians and architects had become interested in the ancient remains, but there were no systematic excavations of the area until the 18th century when the many Roman statues discovered fuelled an interest in antiquity already gripping Europe. In 1769 a license to excavate a particularly fruitful area was granted to the Scottish dealer Gavin Hamilton. The Pope had first choice of all the ancient statues before they left Italy, but Hamilton sold most of his finds to his aristocratic English clients to decorate their private homes. These objects come from several different English collections, but are all said to have ben excavated at Hadrian's Villa.

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