Work on new subway line unearths Roman ruins

A view of the ancient Roman ruins and mosaics discovered during work on a new underground line that will run through the centre of Rome.
A view of the ancient Roman ruins and mosaics discovered during work on a new underground line that will run through the centre of Rome.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BRUMONT (Italy) • Frescoed barracks which once housed the cavalry of Emperor Hadrian's bodyguard have returned to light 19 centuries on, during excavations for a new underground train line in Rome.

In a find hailed as "unique" by archaeologists, weapons rooms, dormitories, kitchens and stables where some of ancient Rome's crack troops once lodged now lie open to the sky near the Colosseum, where the Amba Aradam stop of the Metro C line is being dug.

Uncovering broken pots, Roman coins or that archaeological staple, a series of low walls, is all in a day's work for head engineer Andrea Sciotti, particularly near the ancient forums and gladiator battling ground and training schools.

"But this time, the effect was different. The emotion crept up upon us," he told AFP over the noise of concrete-mixers and drills, marvelling at the excellent state of preservation of the vast site, which covers 900 sq m.

Amid the diggers and scaffolding lie the remains of 39 rooms of barracks where hundreds of soldiers - the so-called "equites singulares augusti", one of the elite corps of the Praetorian Guard - were housed during the second century AD.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2016, with the headline 'Work on new subway line unearths Roman ruins'. Print Edition | Subscribe