By unknown artist
Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina (Italy)
The "Sala delle dieci ragazze" ("Room of the ten girls", mosaic) is found in the Villa del Casale, a luxurious Roman country estate featuring 3500 square meters of magnificent mosaics, depicting scenes from daily life such as these two women running. The Italian town of Piazza Armerina, located on a plateau at 721 meters above sea level on the Erei Mountains, is approximately 30 kilometers from Enna, which is a Sicilian province. The name "Piazza" derives from the Medieval Latin term plàtea (market square) while "Armerina" (from castrum armorum, castle of the weapons) was added in 1862 because of its Norman fortress, built in the XI century. The town is renown for its Baroque cathedral, for the Spinelli castle but most of Villa del Casale. Located a few kilometers outside the Sicilian town, the villa - appointed "Monument of Mankind" by Unesco - is one of the largest Roman dwellings, and has a complicated asymmetrical plan with rooms in a variety of shapes. Built between 330 and 360 aD, the Villa del Casale was once thought to be the retirement home of the emperor Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus (also known as Herculeos Victor), but probably belonged to a wealthy patrician Proculus Populonius (governor of Sicily from 314 to 337) or Caeionus Rufus Volusianus Lampadius (an influential and wealthy man) or Sabucinius Pinianus, or to a member of the Nicomachi family - who had connections with Africa. Both the characteristics of the mosaics and the mosaic artisans in fact are said to retain North African influences. The villa was discovered in 1881 but the whole estate was brought back to light only in the 1950s.