The Loron archaeological site in Santa Marina
This ancient villa with figlina is a unique example in the entire area of the former Roman Empire
The cape between Valelunga and the Santa Marina coves has always been known as Loron by the locals. In the Middle Ages, it was owned by the Poreč bishop, who reforested it. Locals quarried stone and produced lime in the limestone quarries, and a large olive grove was planted there in the 1960s.
In the middle of the 19th century, Pietro Kandler, an Italian historian and archaeologist (1804 - 1872), discovered that the ruins of ancient walls that could be seen on the coast once belonged to an ancient figlina, a ceramic workshop for the production of amphorae. However, the first archaeological excavations were only carried out in 1994. Since then, year after year, Croatian, French, Italian and other archaeologists, have continuously shed light on the great archaeological heritage, which is among the most significant in Croatia.
The archaeological site, today known as Loron, consists of two large complexes from the Roman era. Being about 400 metres away from each other, in ancient times they were connected by paths and arcades. On the southern slope, the one facing Červar, there is a figlina for oil amphorae production.
On the west side, the one facing Santa Marina, there is a maritime villa. They were built at the same time, around 10 AD, by the will of Sisenna Statilius Taurus, a famous name of ancient Rome, senatorial rank, who also held the office of consul. His father was the third man of the Empire next to Octavian Augustus.
The villa with the associated figlina was located in the heart of a large land holding that occupied a large part of the present area of the municipality of Tar-Vabriga Torre-Abrega. After Sisenna Statilius Taurus, ownership passed to other Roman high officials. Among the most famous is certainly Calvia Crsipinilla, a woman intimate with Emperor Nero.
At the time of the Flavian dynasty, the property became imperial, and remained so at least until Emperor Hadrian. This property was built mainly for the production of oil, to be exported along the Po River, in the territory of today's Austria and to the Pannonian region. The Istrian oil produced in Loron, therefore, had a large market. In addition to oil, there was no shortage of wine production and seafood processing.
Figlina is actually a large complex (170 x 90 m) which is divided into two modules by an access ramp. The western module served as an apartment for artisans, it had a small thermal bath and some latrines. The actual workshop, which occupies the eastern module, was arranged around a large courtyard in which there was a bath, rooms by the sea served as warehouses, there were large halls for drying amphorae, and processing rooms where artisans produced amphorae.
The heart of the workshop was a room with large furnaces where amphorae were fired. The amphorae were stamped with the name of the workshop owner. Thus the names of the owners can be traced from Sisenna to Emperor Hadrian. Amphora production continued later, but without stamps, and lasted until the end of the III century. From an archeological point of view, the site has a clearly visible complete floor plan and high quality walls finishes. But what makes the site even more important are the remains of an exceptionally well-preserved amphora furnace.
The Maritime Villa is a large residence (130 x 60 m) with a terrace that slopes gently towards the sea. It had a large, well-preserved cistern. In the floor plan, we recognize square rooms that served as offices for the administration of the estate, a large oil mill with two presses, a monumental staircase that led to the inner courtyard of the villa. The living quarters faced the sea, with a large representative hall and thermal baths. The cistern, oil mill and staircase are visible in situ and are notable for their level of preservation.
The villa served as a residence for the administrators of Sisenna's estate, and later for the emperors. It is a very important villa because it is the only case that, within the same property, a villa with a figlina was built on one project. What makes the two complexes special is actually the uniqueness of the project carried out by high-level architects commissioned by Sisenna Statilius Taurus.
For now, the figlina from Loron has no equal on the territory of the entire Roman Empire.