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Rome finds complex of tombs

October 17, 2008|From the Associated Press

ROME — Workers renovating a rugby stadium have uncovered a vast complex of tombs beneath Rome that mimic the houses, blocks and streets of a real city, Italian officials said Thursday.

Culture Ministry officials said pottery shards in the necropolis, or city of the dead, show that the area may have been inhabited by the living during the Dark Ages after centuries of being used for burials.

Archaeologists believe that at least some of the dead were freed slaves of Greek origin.

A separate dig has turned up the tomb of a nobleman who led Rome's legions in the 2nd century.

The mausoleum was covered with mud during a flood of the Tiber River, which helped preserve exquisite decorations, marble columns and inscriptions and protect it from plunderers.

Writings at the site led experts to identify the tomb as that of Marcus Nonius Macrinus, a general and close aide to Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

In addition, archaeologists restoring the imperial residences on Palatine Hill, in the heart of ancient Rome, believe they have found the underground passageway in which the despotic Emperor Caligula was killed by his own guards.

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