Two ancient Roman edifices have been discovered during excavations to extend Metro Line C in Rome. Archeologists were undertaking reinforcement works on monuments near the new public transport line when the ancient solarium was discovered, still in excellent condition, not far from metro station Amba Aradam in the capital, near the city’s Aurelian Walls.
The discovery came about as archeologists had descended to more than 10 metres below ground level to reinforce the Aurelian Walls, which lie near where the new public transport line is being extended. The discovery of the solarium follows that of an army barracks in Via Ipponio, also during the construction of Line C.
The structure found has Pompeian qualities, according to the experts who discovered it, in that the solarium and adjacent structures were preserved thanks to a fire on site during the 3rd century AD. Archeological discoveries are not rare in Rome, although sites where wood is preserved are “extremely rare given the age of the site,” according to a press release by the Ministry of Culture.
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Such well-preserved sites only occur thanks to exceptional climactic conditions or, equally rarely, in places such as Ercolano and Pompeii. Pompeii was destroyed by an eruption from Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 and the city was preserved in volcanic ash.
The preservation of wooden parts, such as in the solarium recently discovered however, is unique for Rome as wood is only preserved over such a long period in exceptional circumstances, albeit carbonized.
Frescoes and plaster fragments were also recovered at the site. Besides pieces of furniture, sculptures and windows, the skeleton of a dog was also found on the doorstep of the house, carbonized on impact during the fire.
Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology is set to undertake a study to determine whether seismic activity could have been the cause of the fire.
One hypothesis suggests the structure was part of the aristocratic homes on the Caelian Hill, near where it was found, one of the Seven Hills of Rome. Archeologists have descended to 10 metres below ground level to assess the impact of the metro line works on ancient Roman monuments. Reinforcements will continue for another 4 metres still.