A Roman subway construction team working on the Metro C, which will run through the center of the city, has unearthed a huge suite of ancient barracks dating back to the reign of Emperor Hadrian dating from the second century AD.
Culture ministry officials showed where work on the city’s third subway line unearthed barracks for Roman Praetorian guards, The Independent reports. While workers poured concrete at the planned Amba Aradam metro stop, an archaeologist just a few meters away brushed dirt from a small bronze bracelet.
The barracks, discovered about 30 feet below street level, cover 9600 square feet and include a long hallway and 39 rooms decorated with black-and-white mosaics on the floors and frescoed walls found by the Roman subway construction team. Archaeologists have also found a collective grave at the barracks, where they have so far discovered 13 adult skeletons along with a bronze coin and a bronze bracelet.
“It’s exceptional, not only for its good state of conservation but because it is part of a neighborhood which already included four barracks,” said Rossella Rea of the Culture Ministry. “And therefore, we can characterize this area as a military neighborhood.”
The digging for Rome’s so-called C line subway, which is due to link San Giovanni with St Peter’s basilica, has proved a godsend for underfunded archaeologists, but construction teams of the subway line have had to halt progress when a new villa or, in the case of Piazza Venezia, an entire 900-seat, 1st-century auditorium is discovered, NBC News reported.
Rome’s archaeological superintendent, Francesco Prosperetti, said the walls, mosaics and frescoes may be removed to allow construction to proceed, before being replaced. The 39-room complex is the latest headache for city officials who have already put plans for two other stations on hold after archaeological discoveries, meaning the line risks running under Rome without stopping to pick up passengers.
“Moving all of it doesn’t scare us,” he said. “The barracks must not be a problem, but an opportunity to build the most beautiful underground in the world.” The latest find came as construction teams at the site of the planned Amba Aradam station near the basilica of San Giovanni and stumbled on a long corridor below the ground.
Officials hope the discovery doesn’t delay the new Roman metro station, which is scheduled to open in 2020. Work on Rome’s Metro Line C has been beset by delays due to corruption probes and funding shortages since launching in 2007.
The subway looks pretty, but it’s sure going to put a dent on the opening date of the new line.
The Praetorian Guard was the elite group of men used as bodyguards for Roman generals in the Republican era and for emperors in the imperial era. Of course, they went far beyond the bounds of modern bodyguards, fighting in various wars, suppressing mutinies, and occasionally throwing coups and crowning emperors themselves.
The Daily Telegraph said the construction of Rome’s Metro Line C subway has famously been slow to complete, having been beset by multiple issues like corruption probes, funding shortages, and discoveries like this barracks. Officials intend to incorporate the finds from the Roman subway construction team with the project.