Possible Military Commander’s Home Unearthed in Rome

Archaeologists believe the richly decorated house belonged to the commander of a military complex that was found at the site two years ago.
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TUE 26 FEB 2019 12:06 AM

Possible Military Commander’s Home Unearthed in Rome:

Archaeologists believe the richly decorated house belonged to the commander of a military complex that was found at the site two years ago.
Archaeologists believe the richly decorated house belonged to the commander of a military complex that was found at the site two years ago.

ROME — For archaeologists, the excavation of Rome’s newest subway line has been the gift that keeps on giving.

Two years after a 2nd-century military barracks was discovered during the excavation of the Amba Aradam station, archaeologists last week presented the remains of a richly decorated Domus, or house, that they believe belonged to the commander of the military post.

Even after the discovery of the military complex, “we did not imagine that we would find a house with a central courtyard,” a fountain and at least fourteen rooms, said Simona Morretta, the state archaeologist responsible for the site. One of the rooms appears to have been heated.

Details from the second-century domus, or house.
Details from the second-century domus, or house.

At the same level, some 40 feet below the surface, the foundation of another structure, equal in size but far less opulent, was also excavated.

Ms. Morretta said the Domus was remarkably well Preserved. “The decorations were mainly intact, both the patterned mosaic floors and the frescoed walls,” she said.

The walls of the Domus had been leveled at a height of 5 feet and the rooms filled in with dirt, suggesting that it had been intentionally buried during the 3rd century, just before the Roman Emperor Aurelian began building the protective walls that would encircle the city, in 271 A.D.

The excavation also unearthed rare wooden artifacts, such as wood forms used to build foundations, as well as beams.

“You normally don’t find wood remains in Rome,” Ms. Morretta noted, but with the subway lines traveling at nearly hundred feet below ground, archaeologists have been able to excavate deeper than usual.

As of now, 21 of 24 stations of the new route, Line C, which links the city center to an area east of Rome, are operational. The much anticipated San Giovanni station, which will show case some of the artifacts discovered during its construction, is expected to open soon.

The Domus and the warehouse will be removed from the site and temporarily preserved in special containers while construction on the Amba Aradam station continues.

The ruins will eventually be returned to the site to form the centerpiece — visible to passengers — of the modern station, which is scheduled to open by 2022.

The station will be “one-of-a-kind,” Ms. Morretta said — and she is hopeful there will be more to show off.“We have 4 more meters to excavate,” she said. “We have no idea what we will find.”


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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.