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Iron Tools from a Roman Villa at Boscoreale, Italy, in the Field Museum and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

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Hayfork or gardening fork.
Hayfork or gardening fork.

This article reunites a substantial group of iron tools that were discovered during the excavation of the Roman Villa of P. Fannius Synistor in Boscoreale, Italy, in the early 20th century. The tools were subsequently sold and exported in two widely spaced shipments to the United States. They ended up in museums in Chicago (the Field Museum) and Ann Arbor (the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology), which are not far apart geographically. It seems likely that Francis Kelsey himself was instrumental in the acquisition of the artifacts now in the Kelsey Museum. The tools are important for their precise terminus ante quem, their remarkable preservation (esp. for iron artifacts), and the information they reveal about the practical side of life at a villa that is better known in the United States for the elaborately decorated frescoes on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The corpus, which offers valuable information on agriculture and woodworking at the villa, includes typical, widely seen iron tool types, as well as a few pieces that are quite unusual.

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DOI: 
10.3764/aja.114.4.697