A team of researchers with members from France, Great Britain and the U.S. has found that lead concentrations in drinking water in Rome, during the height of the Roman Empire were 100 times that of local spring waters. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they took sediment samples from two sources in the city that revealed lead levels over a thousand year period.
Scientists and historians have for years debated the possibility that lead poisoning was a contributing factor in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire—water carried from afar in aqueducts was directed into lead pipes for distribution in the empire’s capital city of Rome—leading to speculation that leaders had gone mad due to exposure in their drinking water. In this new effort, the researchers have concluded that while lead levels in the ancient drinking water were high, they weren’t high enough to have been a major health hazard, and thus, lead cannot be blamed for the demise of the empire. Read more.
It is already known as the eternal city, and if new archeological findings prove correct Rome may turn out to be even more so than believed until now.
Next week, the city will celebrate its official, 2,767th birthday. According to a tradition going back to classic times, the brothers Romulus and Remus founded the city on 21 April in the year 753BC.
But on Sunday it was reported that evidence of infrastructure building had been found, dating from more than 100 years earlier. The daily Il Messagero quoted Patrizia Fortini, the archaeologist responsible for the Forum, as saying that a wall constructed well before the city’s traditional founding date had been unearthed.
The wall, made from blocks of volcanic tuff, appeared to have been built to channel water from an aquifer under the Capitoline hill that flows into the river Spino, a tributary of the Tiber. Read more.
He was Rome’s first emperor, the founder of a world-dominating imperial dynasty, and a builder of roads and stunning temples who brought peace to a far-flung empire; a man so powerful the Roman senate named a month after him. Now, on the 2,000th anniversary of the death of the emperor Augustus, the city of Rome is getting ready to honour its favourite son by saving his mausoleum from shocking neglect.
Built in 28BC and as broad as a city block, the cylindrical mausoleum has seen better days after being sacked, bombed and built upon down the centuries. It was used as a bullfighting ring and a concert hall before it was finally abandoned, recently becoming a hangout for prostitutes and a handy toilet for tramps. Read more.
Ancient Rome’s gladiators lived and trained in fortress prisons, according to an international team of archaeologists who mapped a school for the famed fighters.
Discovered at the site of Carnuntum outside Vienna, Austria, the gladiatorial school, or ludus gladiatorius, is the first one discovered outside the city of Rome. Now hidden beneath a pasture, the gladiator school was entirely mapped with noninvasive earth-sensing technologies.
The discovery, reported Tuesday evening by the journal Antiquity, makes clear what sort of lives these famous ancient warriors led during the second century A.D. in the Roman Empire.
"It was a prison; they were prisoners," says University of Vienna archaeologist Wolfgang Neubauer, who led the study team. "They lived in cells, in a fortress with only one gate out." Read more.
Archaeologists excavating a site in central Rome say they’ve uncovered what may be oldest known temple from Roman antiquity.
Along the way, they’ve also discovered how much the early Romans intervened to shape their urban environment.
And the dig has been particularly challenging because the temple lies below the water table.
At the foot Capitoline Hill in the center of Rome, stands the Medieval Sant’Omobono church.
Today, the Tiber River is about a hundred yards away. But when the city was being created, around the 7th century B.C., it flowed close to where the church now stands, where a bend in the river provided a natural harbor for merchant ships. Read more.
An enduring mystery of archaeology involving a well-known historical site in ancient Rome is being quietly unraveled in Indiana, thanks to a sophisticated computer simulation created by Ball State University digital artists.
The simulation, crafted by the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA) and commissioned by Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing, re-creates the Campus of Mars. The site was built around 9 B.C.E. for the Emperor Augustus just outside the city walls of ancient Rome.
By integrating precise NASA historical data on the movements of the sun and moon with archaeological surveys of the site, researchers can examine suspected solar alignments involving structures that were part of the campus. Read more.
(Reuters) - Collapsing walls at the ancient Roman city of Pompeii have raised fresh concerns about Italy’s efforts to maintain one of the world’s most treasured sites, preserved for 2,000 years but now crumbling from neglect.
On Monday, site officials said part of a wall had collapsed on one of Pompeii’s major streets after weeks of heavy rains and wind. Plaster had also fallen off the wall of the ornately frescoed House of the Small Fountain.
A series of collapses in Pompeii over the last month led Italian media to dub it a “Black November” for the ancient city, preserved under ash from a volcanic eruption in 79 A.D. and rediscovered in the 18th century, revealing a time capsule of daily life in Roman times. Read more.
British archeologists digging near Rome have built up an accurate picture of Portus, the once-mighty port that could host 350 ships at a time and kept the ravenous capital of the Roman empire supplied with grain, wine, oil, slaves and luxuries from around the world.
The team says it has also unravelled the mystery of how the site’s luxurious palace and huge warehouse vanished almost overnight, leaving no trace of the port’s scale and wealth.
Rather than being burned down by invading hordes as the empire declined, or left to disintegrate, a team lead by the University of Southampton has revealed that Portus was systematically demolished in the 6th century by the Byzantines – the eastern emperors who fought the invading Ostrogoths to regain control of Rome. Read more.