Domus del Chirurgo (The Surgeon?s House)
On 7 December 2007 Rimini opened the doors of the ‘Domus del Chirurgo’ (The Surgeon’s House) to the public. This important archaeological complex was first noted in 1989, and was finally delivered to the city after 18 years of patient restoration. The area of the find extends over 700 m2 and includes a number of buildings, the most interesting of which is the so-called Domus del Chirurgo, the remains of an ancient Roman domus which dates back to the second century AD.
The excavation has also uncovered other interesting structures, including the remains of a late imperial habitation and traces of a settlement with an enormous burial ground beneath which dates back to the Early Middle Ages. This historical stratification shows us how the site has been reused throughout the centuries.
A team of local archaeologists led by Jacopo Ortalli, scientific director of the excavation, worked with great care and patience to bring this unique historical patrimony back to life. The original two storey Domus del Chirurgo overlooked the sea, which has withdrawn outwards by about 1km over the centuries.
A number of well-preserved mosaics discovered inside the domus have given many clues as to the identity of its owner as well as shedding some light on a fascinating past. Perhaps the most exceptional find is a collection of 150 surgical instruments, leaving no doubt that the owner of the house was a doctor. It seems that Eutyches, as he was called, was of Hellenic background and did most of his professional training on battlefields, as was commonplace in ancient times. The instruments discovered were used above all to treat bone traumas and wounds, suggesting that Eutyches was a military doctor.
Detail of a mosaic from the Domus del Chirurgo
The domus had clay walls which rested on a masonry base. A hall gave onto an internal garden from one side and various rooms on the other. There was a dining room (triclinium), a bedroom (cubiculum) and two living rooms. One of these boasts a precious mosaic depicting Orpheus among animals. This is the room in which the doctor examined and operated on his patients: a functioning surgery. There were also smaller rooms, for example a heated room (ipocausto), a toilet area and, upstairs, the kitchen and pantry. The collapse of the roof following a fire in the second half of the third century AD permitted the excellent conservation of mosaics, furnishings and utensils, which were hidden and preserved underneath the rubble. The mosaics can be appreciated during a visit to the domus itself, while the surgical instruments and various utensils are on display in the city museum.