ROME (AFP).- Archaeologists in Italy have uncovered a cemetery in the 2,700-year-old ancient port of Rome where they believe the variety of tombs found reflects the bustling town’s multi-cultural nature.
Ostia “was a town that was always very open, very dynamic,” said Paola Germoni, the director of the sprawling site — Italy’s third most visited after the Colosseum and Pompeii.”What is original is that there are different types of funeral rites: burials and cremations,” she said this week.
The contrasts are all the more startling as the tombs found are all from a single family — “in the Roman sense, in other words very extended”, Germoni said. Read more.
Forget gory shows and gladiatorial combat. In the late Middle Ages, Rome’s Colosseum was a huge condominium, says the latest archaeological investigation into Rome’s most iconic monument.
Archaeologists from Roma Tre University and students from the American University of Rome unearthed evidence showing that ordinary Romans lived within the Colosseum from the ninth century until at least 1349, when the building was seriously damaged by an earthquake.
During a three-week excavation beneath some of the arched entrances that lead into the arena, the archaeologists discovered terracotta sewage pipes, potsherds and the foundations of a 12th-century wall that once enclosed one of the properties. Read more.
If going gluten-free seems hard now, try doing it in ancient Rome. A well-heeled young woman with coeliac disease tried to adapt her diet in an unsuccessful effort to cope with gluten sensitivity, studies of her remains suggest.
The woman’s remains were buried in a 2,000-year-old tomb at the Cosa archaeological site on the Tuscan coast in Italy. The ancient Roman city’s economy depended on growing wheat and olives and was not particularly prosperous, yet archaeologists discovered gold and bronze jewellery entombed alongside the woman’s bones. They concluded that she was relatively wealthy and would have had access to plenty of food.
Yet the skeleton of the woman — who researchers estimate was 18–20 years old — bore signs of malnutrition and osteoporosis. Read more.
Rome’s Colosseum will soon look a little more like it did in the bad old days two millennia ago, when it first hosted gladiator fights, mock naval battles and public executions carried out by wild animals.
The $35 million project—the first full cleaning in the Colosseum’s history—aims to return it to its former splendor, while also strengthening the overall structure. Earthquakes, the pillaging of pieces of its outer frame, heavy car traffic and Rome’s nearby subway have damaged key parts. The scrubdown should also reveal secrets of how one of the world’s most famous, and often neglected, monuments remained standing for 20 centuries.
Some surprises have already emerged during the project’s first six months. The restorers expect to uncover the first five arcades this summer. Visitors will find that the monument’s Travertine limestone is once again a vibrant dark ivory— Read more.
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.