Category Archives: ITALY

Unlocking 2,000-year-old Herculaneum scrolls were buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted.

Unlocking 2,000-year-old Herculaneum scrolls were buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted.

Artefacts from the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, buried in ash during an explosive Mount Vesuvius eruption, was a scale-out at the British Museum in 2013. But could even bigger treasures still lie underground, including lost classical literature?

Scholars have been investigating the lost works of ancient Greek and Latin literature for centuries. Books were found in monastic libraries in the Renaissance. Papyrus scrolls were discovered in Egypt’s deserts in the late 19th century. But only in Herculaneum in southern Italy has an entire library from the ancient Mediterranean been discovered in situ.

On the eve of the catastrophe in AD 79, Herculaneum was a chic resort city on the Bay of Naples, and during the hot Italian summer many top families went out to relax and recover. It was also an area where Rome’s richest people were involved with cultural uniqueness-none no other than Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, a politician and Julius Caesar’s father–in–law.

In Herculaneum, Piso built a palatial seaside villa, its wide façade exceeding 220 m (721 ft) alone. When excavated in the middle of the 18th century, there are more than 80 high-quality bronze and marble statues, including one of the Pan with a goat. When he came to plan his own exercise in cultural showing off, J Paul Getty chose to copy Piso’s villa for his own Getty museum in Malibu, California.

Piso’s grand villa, which has come to be known as the Villa of the Papyri, also contains the only library to have survived from the classical world. It is a relatively small collection, some 2,000 scrolls, which the eruption nearly destroyed and yet preserved at the same time.

A blast of furnace-like gas from the volcano at 400C (752F) carbonised the papyrus scrolls before the town was buried in fine volcanic ash which later cooled and solidified into rock. When excavators and treasure hunters set about exploring the villa in the 18th Century, they mistook the scrolls for lumps of charcoal and burnt logs. Some were used as torches or thrown onto the fire.

But once it was realised what they were – possibly because of the umbilicus, the stick at the centre of the scrolls – the challenge was to find a way to open them. Some scrolls were simply hacked apart with a butcher’s knife – with predictable and lamentable results. Later a conservator from the Vatican, Father Antonio Piaggio (1713-1796), devised a machine to delicately open the scrolls. But it was slow work – the first one took around four years to unroll. And the scrolls tended to go to pieces.

The fragments pulled off by Piaggio’s machine were fragile and hard to read. “They are as black as burnt newspaper,” says Dirk Obbink, a lecturer in Papyrology at Oxford University, who has been working on the Herculaneum papyri since 1983. Under normal light the charred paper looks “a shiny black” says Obbink, while “the ink is a dull black and sort of iridesces”.

Reading it is “not very pleasant”, he adds. In fact, when Obbink first began working on them in the 1980s the difficulty of the fragments was a shock. On some pieces, the eye can make out nothing. On others, by working with microscopes and continually moving the fragments to catch the light in different ways, some few letters can be made out. Meanwhile, the fragments fall apart. “At the end of the day, there would be black dust on the table – the black dust of the scroll powdering away. I didn’t even want to breathe.”

This all began to change 15 years ago.

In 1999, scientists from Brigham Young University in the US examined the papyrus using infrared light. Deep in the infrared range, at a wavelength of 700-900 nanometres, it was possible to achieve a good contrast between the paper and the ink. Letters began to jump out of the ancient papyrus. Instead of black ink on black paper, it was now possible to see black lines on a pale grey background.

Scholars’ ability to reassemble the texts improved massively. “Most of our previous readings were wrong,” says Obbink. “We could not believe our eyes. We were ‘blinded’ by the real readings. The text wasn’t what we thought it was and now it made sense.”

In 2008, a further advance was made through multi-spectral imaging. Instead of taking a single (“monospectral”) image of a fragment of papyrus under infrared light (at typically 800 nanometres) the new technology takes 16 different images of each fragment at different light levels and then creates a composite image.

With this technique, Obbink is seeking not only to clarify the older infrared images but also to look again at fragments that previously defied all attempts to read them. The detail of the new images is so good that the handwriting on the different fragments can be easily compared, which should help reconstruct the lost texts out of the various orphan fragments. “The whole thing needs to be redone,” says Obbink.

So what has been found? Lost poems by Sappho, the 100-plus lost plays of Sophocles, the lost dialogues of Aristotle? Not quite.

Despite being found in Italy, most of the recovered material is in Greek. Perhaps the major discovery is a third of On Nature, a previously lost work by the philosopher Epicurus.

But many of the texts that have emerged so far are written by a follower of Epicurus, the philosopher and poet Philodemus of Gadara (c.110-c.40/35BC). In fact, so many of his works are present, and in duplicate copies, that David Sider, a classics professor at New York University, believes that what has been found so far was in fact Philodemus’s own working library. Piso was Philodemus’s patron.


Not all of the villa’s scrolls have been unrolled through – and because of the damage, they suffer in the unwinding process that work has now been halted. Might it be possible to read them by unrolling them not physically, but virtually?

In 2009 two unopened scrolls from Herculaneum belonging to the Institut de France in Paris were placed in a Computerised Tomography (CT) scanner, normally used for medical imaging. The machine, which can distinguish different kinds of bodily tissue and produce a detailed image of a human’s internal organs could potentially be used to reveal the internal surfaces of the scroll. The task proved immensely difficult, because the scrolls were so tightly wound, and creased.

“We were able to unwrap a number of sections from the scroll and flatten them into 2D images – and on those sections, you can clearly see the structure of the papyrus: fibres, sand,” says Dr Brent Seales, a computer science professor at the University of Kentucky, who led the effort.

Divers Just Found Four 2,200-Year-Old Roman Battering Rams Used During The Punic Wars

Divers Just Found Four 2,200-Year-Old Roman Battering Rams Used During The Punic Wars

An Ancient Roman battering ram was used to end the First Punic War.

The First Punic War, fought between Ancient Rome and Carthage for supremacy over the western Mediterranean, began in 264 B.C. It was the most prolonged naval conflict in antiquity. For 23 years on the seas from Sicily to North Africa, warships clashed with their battering rams — four of which have just been found.

Each of these colossal artefacts was made of bronze and weighed 450 pounds. Formerly fitted to the bows of Roman warships, they tore into the enemy vessels of Carthage at the Battle of the Aegates on March 10, 241 B.C. The fight was so brutal that it ended the First Punic War in a single day.

After thousands of years on the seafloor, these ancient weapons of war were finally retrieved from wrecks off the coast of Sicily, where the battle took place.

The retrieval effort was conducted by the U.S. RPM Nautical Foundation and Sicily’s Marine Archaeology Unit, and the find has shed new light on the wars of antiquity.

Historical accounts indicate Ancient Rome sank up to 50 Carthaginian ships with these rams, which held three enormous blades that ripped into the wooden hulls of enemy ships.

The three blades on each side were used to tear through enemy hulls.

That feat of engineering was one of the main reasons for Rome’s emerging victorious from the war.

The newly-retrieved Roman rams all bore inscriptions from judges that affirmed these weapons were made in accordance with the high Roman engineering standards.

Carthaginian battering rams, meanwhile, commonly held inscriptions dedicated to Baal, a deity worshipped for its control of the weather, suggesting they put their faith in gods instead of builders. Valeria Livigni of the Marine Archaeology Unit confirmed that the Carthaginian rams were “less well made than the Roman rams.”

That wasn’t the only revelation, however. Now, previous beliefs about Rome’s naval strategies have been challenged. While accounts have long indicated that both parties had about 200 ships, with Rome sinking 50 enemy vessels and capturing 70 while losing only 30 ships, their attacks are now being reassessed.

“We believed that ships tried to ram each other broadside,” said David Ruff of the RPM. “But many of the rams we have discovered are damaged, suggesting they went head to head. Either way, these were very violent collisions.”

The site of the Battle of Aegates was only identified in 2010.

Historians believe that Romans would toss both their masts and anchors overboard during an approach and row their now lighter vessels into a Carthaginian ship. Their enemies, meanwhile, commanded far heavier ships with payloads meant to be offloaded at the Mediterranean ports of Drepena and Lilybaeum.

The site of the Battle of Aegates was only identified in 2010 when a fisherman spotted a battering ram below his boat and notified Italian archaeologist Sebastiano Tusa. Earlier this summer, divers discovered three merchant vessels that held more than 200 ceramic jars, with some still containing traces of wine.

The Battle of the Aegates was first recorded by Greek historians Polybius and Diodorus. It began as a fight over the control of Sicily. With Rome encroaching on the town of Drepana, Carthage took to the seas to defend itself under the command of Hannibal’s son Hanno against Roman forces led by Praetor Quintus Valerius Falto.

The battering rams weigh 450 pounds each and the blades are two feet long.

While Rome lost a few dozen ships and saw 50 more damaged, their maneuverability allowed for more complex approaches than their enemy.

Colliding into Carthaginian ships with lighter vessels and greater speeds saw Hanno’s weighty fleet suffer immense losses before it could pick up reinforcements from shore.

The Roman warships easily encircled their slower enemies before ramming right into their hulls, casting the Carthaginian sailors into the seas and watching their vessels sink.

The sheer slaughter saw any remaining Carthaginian ships flee home. Hanno was crucified for his disastrous loss in battle.

Carthage sued for peace and signed the Treaty of Lutatius, which forced them to give up Sicily and pay enormous reparations. And although the First Punic War was over, there were still two more to come, and the battle for the dominance of the Mediterranean wouldn’t end for almost another 100 years.

Remarkably, it was only a few months ago that divers uncovered an Ancient Greek military vessel nearby. While this latest diving team uncovered Ancient Roman warships, it seems the Mediterranean has a lot left to offer historians — and is sure to broaden our understanding of ancient naval warfare for years to come.

A tall story! Famous artist Michelangelo was surprisingly SHORT, measuring just 5ft 3in

A tall story! Famous artist Michelangelo was surprisingly SHORT, measuring just 5ft 3in

As an artist, the legendary Michelangelo Buonarroti left behind some big shoes to fill. But in real life, the great painter’s shoes weren’t big at all — and neither was Michelangelo

Italian researchers recently examined three shoes that were found in Michelangelo’s home after his death and are thought to have belonged to the Renaissance artist: a pair of leather shoes and a single leather slipper (the companion was stolen in 1873), in the collection of the Casa Buonarroti Museum in Florence, Italy.

The researchers’ analysis is the first to estimate the physical characteristics of the artist based on measurements of personal objects such as footwear, and they found that Michelangelo, while still an artistic giant, stood no more than 5 feet 2 inches (1.6 meters) tall.

While this is relatively short for a European adult man by today’s standards, at the time Michelangelo was alive (1475 to 1564) that height would not have been unusual, said scientists with the Forensic Anthropology, Paleopathology and Bioarchaeology Research Center (FAPAB) in Avola, Italy.

FAPAB researchers Francesco Galassi, a paleopathologist, and Elena Varotto, a forensic anthropologist, measured the shoes and then calculated the wearer’s foot dimensions and height, and their results aligned with a description of Michelangelo by the 16th-century artist and writer Giorgio Vasari.

Vasari wrote that Michelangelo was “broad in the shoulders” but the rest of his body was “somewhat slender in proportion” and his stature was average, according to the study.

The shoes were all similar in size, suggesting that both pairs (when the slipper pair was complete) were worn by the same person.

However, even though the shoes have long been attributed to Michelangelo, it’s also possible that they belonged to another man in the artist’s household, such as a family member or one of Michelangelo’s descendants, the scientists wrote. 

Michelangelo may have been in poor health toward the end of his life, and likely had gout and lead poisoning as well as severe arthritis in his hands, according to clues found in Michelangelo’s own writings and in painted portraits of the artist, Live Science previously reported.

A circa 1540 portrait of Michelangelo by Italian painter Jacopino del Conte (1513–1598). Not surprisingly, the portrait doesn’t focus on Michelangelo’s height but on his face and hand instead.

As Michelangelo’s remains have never been exhumed and analyzed, it’s difficult for scientists to be certain about the artist’s condition when he died at the age of 88.

However, studies such as this can help to fill in some of the physical details about Michelangelo toward the end of his lifetime, the authors reported.

The findings were published in the September 2021 issue of the journal Anthropologie.

Tourists dive into an underwater archaeological Roman party town

Tourists dive into underwater archaeological Roman party town

Fish dart across mosaic floors and into the ruined villas, where holidaying Romans once drank, plotted and flirted in the party town of Baiae, now an underwater archaeological park near Naples.

Statues which once decorated luxury abodes in this beachside resort are now playgrounds for crabs off the coast of Italy, where divers can explore ruins of palaces and domed bathhouses built for emperors.

Rome’s nobility were first attracted in the 2nd century BC to the hot springs at Baiae, which sits on the coast within the Campi Flegrei — a supervolcano known in English as the Phlegraean Fields.

Seven emperors, including Augustus and Nero, had villas here, as did Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony. The poet Sextus Propertius described the town as a place of vice, which was a “foe to virtuous creatures”.

It was where “old men behave like young boys, and lots of young boys act like young girls,” according to the Roman scholar Varro.

But by the 4th century, the porticos, marble columns, shrines and ornamental fish ponds had begun to sink due to bradyseism, the gradual rise and fall of land due to hydrothermal and seismic activity.

The whole area, including the neighbouring commercial capital of Pozzuoli and military seat at Miseno, were submerged. Their ruins now lie between four and six metres (15 to 20 feet) underwater.

‘Something unique’

“It’s difficult, especially for those coming for the first time, to imagine that you can find things you would never be able to see anywhere else in the world in just a few metres of water,” said Marcello Bertolaso, head of the Campi Flegrei diving centre, which takes tourists around the site.

In this photograph taken on August 18, 2021 a dive guide shows tourists a copy of the original statue preserved at the Museum of Baiae, representing Dionysus with ivy crown in the Nymphaeum of punta Epitaffio, the submerged ancient Roman city of Baiae at the Baiae Underwater Park.

“Divers love to see very special things, but what you can see in the park of Baiae is something unique.”

The 177-hectare (437-acre) underwater site has been a protected marine area since 2002, following decades in which antiques were found in fishermen’s nets and looters had free rein.

Divers must be accompanied by a registered guide.

A careful sweep of sand near a low wall uncovers a stunning mosaic floor from a villa which belonged to Gaius Calpurnius Pisoni, known to have spent his days here conspiring against Emperor Nero.

Explorers follow the ancient stones of the coastal road past ruins of spas and shops, the sunlight on a clear day piercing the waves to light up statues. These are replicas; the originals are now in a museum.

“When we research new areas, we gently remove the sand where we know there could be a floor, we document it, and then we re-cover it,” archaeologist Enrico Gallocchio told AFPTV.

“If we don’t, the marine fauna or flora will attack the ruins. The sand protects them,” said Gallocchio, who is in charge of the Baiae park.

“The big ruins were easily discovered by moving a bit of sand, but there are areas where the banks of sand could be metres deep. There are undoubtedly still ancient relics to be found,” he said.

Well-Preserved Human Remains Discovered in Pompeii Tomb

Well-Preserved Human Remains Discovered in Pompeii Tomb

The partially mummified remains of an urbane Pompeii resident have been discovered in a tomb outside the city centre erected before the famous eruption that buried the town in ash. 

Well-Preserved Human Remains Discovered in Pompeii Tomb
The remains of Marcus Venerius Secundio were preserved in a sealed chamber in a Pompeii cemetery. Though the body is nearly 2,000 years old, close-cropped hair and an ear are still visible on the skull.

According to the inscriptions on the tomb, the deceased was a man named Marcus Venerius Secundio, who was in his 60s when he died and was, at one point, enslaved. Later in life, after being freed, Secundio became a well-off priest who conducted rituals in Latin and Greek. 

The tomb inscription referring to these Greek rituals is the first direct evidence of Greek performances being held in the Italian city. 

A close view of the mummification of Marcus Venerius Secundio. The remains have been taken to a laboratory so researchers can learn more about whether this mummification was intentional.

“That performances in Greek were organised is evidence of the lively and open cultural climate which characterised ancient Pompeii,” Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, said in a statement. 

Mummified remains

Secundio’s remains rest in a rectangular masonry tomb that was once painted with images of green plants on a blue background; traces of this paint still grace the outside walls of the tomb.

The masonry tomb of Marcus Venerius Secundio in the Porta Sarno Necrtopolis. Faint traces of blue and green paint still grave the outer walls.

The partially mummified body was tucked into a sealed alcove in the tomb with an arched ceiling. Close-cropped hair and an ear are still visible on the skull.

Archaeologists also recovered scraps of fabric and two glass bottles called “unguentaria” from Secundio’s tomb. Unguentaria are often found in Roman and Greek cemeteries and may have held oils or perfumes for graveside rituals. 

The tomb also contained two funerary urns, including a beautiful blue-glass urn belonging to a woman whose name is recorded as Novia Amabilis (“kind wife”). Cremation was the most common method of burial for Pompeiians during the Roman period, according to archaeologists.

A beautiful blue glass urn was found in the tomb of Marcus Venerius Secundio. The urn likely contains the cremated remains of a woman named Novia Amabilis.

It’s not clear why Secundio’s remains weren’t cremated. It’s also not clear if his body was mummified naturally or if it was treated to prevent decomposition. 

“We still need to understand whether the partial mummification of the deceased is due to intentional treatment or not,” University of Valencia archaeologist Llorenç Alapont said in the statement. 

Multilingual city

The tomb is in the Porta Sarno Necropolis, which sits just outside the town walls by the Porta di Nola gate. A number of notables were buried in the necropolis, including city administrator Marcus Obellius Firmus, who lived during the reign of Emperor Nero (between A.D. 54 and 68), according to ArchaeoSpain, a field school that coordinates internships at Pompeii and other sites.

What is known of Marcus Venerius Secundio’s life comes from a previously discovered record-keeping tablet belonging to the banker Cecilius Giocondus, as well as the inscription carved in marble on Secundio’s tomb.

The inscription on the tomb names Marcus Venerius Secundio and says that he performed four days of performances in Greek and Latin as a priest in the imperial cult.

He was a slave at the temple of Venus before his release, after which he joined the priesthood of the imperial cult, dedicated to glorifying the memory of the Roman emperor Augustus, who ruled from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14.

As one of these “Augustales,” Secundio “gave Greek and Latin ‘ludi’ for the duration of four days,” according to the tomb inscription. “Ludi graeci” were theater performances in Greek, Zuchtriegel said.

“It is the first clear evidence of performances at Pompeii in the Greek language, which had previously been hypothesised on the basis of indirect indicators,” he said. These performances indicate that Pompeii in the first century was a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic place where Eastern Mediterranean cultures melded.

Pompeii’s 2,000-Year-Old Fast Food Outlet Is Now Open To Visitors

Pompeii’s 2,000-Year-Old Fast Food Outlet Is Now Open To Visitors

The Italian archaeologists have unearthed a 2,000 years old fast-food stall from the ashes in Pompeii, Italy. The researchers have dug out an ancient restaurant from the vast archaeological site in the city of Southern Italy, that could now give new clues about the snacking habits of the ancient Romans.

Frescoes on an ancient counter discovered during excavations in Pompeii, Italy

According to the reports, the Italian archaeologists who have been carrying out excavations at the ancient lost city of Pompeii on Saturday said that they had discovered a frescoed ‘thermopolium’ or fast-food counter in an exceptional state of preservation.

The ornate snack bar counter, decorated with polychrome patterns and frozen by volcanic ash, was partially taken off from the ground last year but archaeologists had continued their work on the site to reveal it in its full glory.

Pompeii was buried in a sea of boiling lava when the volcano on nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, killing between 2,000 and 15,000 people.

The massive site that spreads over 44 hectares (110 acres) is what remains of one of the richest cities in the Roman empire.

The Thermopolium of Regio V, which is believed to have been present at a busy intersection of Silver Wedding Street and Alley of Balconies, was the Roman-era equivalent of a fast-food snack stall.

The Thermopolium was very popular in the Roman world. Pompeii alone had around 80 such stalls.

A fresco bearing an image of a Nereid nymph riding a seahorse and gladiators in combat has also been unearthed at the spot.

The team has discovered duck bone fragments as well as the remains of pigs, goats, fish and snails in earthenware pots. Some of the ingredients had been cooked together like a Roman era paella.

The excavators have found crushed fava beans, used to modify the taste of wine at a bottom of one jar.

Reportedly, the food stall appears to have been closed in a hurry and abandoned by its owners, believed to be after the first rumblings of the eruption were felt, said Massimo Osanna, director general at the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

The remains of one of the individuals at the top of this image, who was discovered on a bed in the back of a room at the amazing Pompeii food stall found in March 2019 AD at the Regio V site.

Alongside human remains, amphorae, a water tower and a fountain were found. The remains of a man believed to have been aged around 50 has also been discovered near a child’s bed.

“It is possible that someone, perhaps the oldest man, stayed behind and perished during the first phase of the eruption,” Osanna said.

The remains of another person were also found and could be an opportunist thief or someone fleeing the eruption who was “surprised by the burning vapours just as he had his hand on the lid of the pot that he had just opened”, he added.

The archaeologists, in the latest stage of their work, have excavated a number of still life scenes, including depictions of animals believed to have been on the menu, notably mallard ducks and a rooster, for serving up with wine or hot beverages.

An image of a dog with homophobic graffiti written in white across the top border found at the soon to reopen Pompeii food stall.
A highly realistic painting of a rooster decorates the soon to reopen Pompeii food stall, located in the Regio V site area.

Pompeii is Italy’s second most visited site after the Colisseum in Rome and last year attracted around four million tourists.

Ancient Roman Road Discovered at the Bottom of Venice Lagoon

Ancient Roman Road Discovered at the Bottom of Venice Lagoon

In the Venice lagoon, an ancient and now submerged road was unearthed in a location that would have been accessible by land 2,000 years ago during the Roman era.

Fantina Madricardo at the Marine Science Institute in Venice and her colleagues made the discovery after mapping the floor of an area of the lagoon called the Treporti channel.

“We believe it was part of the network of Roman roads in the northeast of the Venice area,” says Madricardo.

The remains of a Roman road have been found underneath Venice, according to a new Italian study.

In the 1980s, the archaeologist Ernesto Canal proposed that there are ancient human-made structures submerged in the Venice lagoon.

This suggestion prompted decades of debate, but couldn’t be confirmed until now as the previously available technology was insufficiently advanced to explore such a challenging environment.

“The area is very difficult to investigate by divers because there are strong currents and the water in the Venice lagoon is very turbid,” says Madricardo.

The team used a multibeam echosounder mounted on a boat to form a picture of what lies underwater. This device sends out acoustic waves that bounce off the lagoon floor, allowing the team to reconstruct images of whatever structures are down there.

Ancient Roman Road Discovered at the Bottom of Venice Lagoon
Reconstruction of the Roman road in the Treporti channel in the Venice lagoon

The researchers found 12 structures up to 2.7 metres tall and 52.7 metres long that extended along 1140 metres in a southwest to the north-eastern direction in the configuration of a road.

The presence and layout of these structures suggest that there may have been a settlement in the area.

It was then submerged about 2000 years ago – partly due to human activity that diverted the flow of rivers and starved the area of the sediment that was needed to keep it above water.

“Presumably, the road is giving access to this rich environment.

The margins of the land and the water are full of resources that people might have been exploiting,” says James Gerrard at Newcastle University in the UK. “It’s not normal to find, if you like, ‘drowned’ landscapes or be able to study them in this kind of detail.”

Rare Boundary Stone Uncovered in Rome

Rare Boundary Stone Uncovered in Rome

During excavations for a new sewage system, archaeologists unearthed a unique stone outlining the city borders of ancient Rome. It dates from the time of Emperor Claudius in 49 A.D. and was discovered by archaeologists.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi was on hand for the unveiling Friday of the pomerial stone, a huge slab of travertine that was used as a sacred, military and political perimeter marking the edge of the city proper with Rome’s outer territory.

It was found June 17 during excavations for a rerouted sewer under the recently restored mausoleum of Emperor Augustus, right off the central Via del Corso in Rome’s historic centre.

In ancient Rome, the area of the pomerium was a consecrated piece of land along the city walls, where it was forbidden to farm, live or build and through which it was forbidden to enter with weapons.

At a press conference in the Ara Pacis museum near the mausoleum, Claudio Parisi Presicce, director of the Archaeological Museums of Rome, said the stone had both civic and symbolic meaning.

A detail of an archaeological finding that emerged during the excavations at a Mausoleum is pictured during its presentation to the press in Rome, Friday, July 16, 2021. The monumental pomerial stone is dating back to Roman Emperor Claudio and was used to mark the ‘pomerium’ the sacred boundaries of the ‘Urbe’, the city of Rome, during the Roman empire.

“The founding act of the city of Rome starts from the realization of this ’pomerium,‴ he said of the consecrated area. The stone features an inscription that allowed archaeologists to date it to Claudius and the expansion of the pomerium in 49 A.D., which established Rome’s new city limits.

Raggi noted that only 10 other stones of this kind had been discovered in Rome, the last one 100 years ago.

“Rome never ceases to amaze and always shows off its new treasures,” she said.

The stone will be on display at the Ara Pacis museum, the Richard Meier-designed home of a 1st-century altar until the Augustus museum opens.