Saturday, February 21, 2009

Roman Villa Still Yielding Many Artifacts

Aqueducts at the Villa delle Vignacce site south of Rome.

Excavations at an ancient Roman villa and bath complex in the outskirts of Rome have unearthed a wealth of surprisingly well-preserved artifacts, including the marble head of a Greek god. The site of the Villa delle Vignacce, towards Ciampino airport south of Rome, was first explored by archeologists in 1780.

Excavations began in earnest only about two years ago, revealing a residence attached to an elaborate thermal bath complex dating to the first century A.D. complete with hot baths, large tubs and a communal latrine. Since then, archeologists said they had also uncovered prized artifacts including fragments of columns, floor slabs and the head of a marble statue believed to represent either the Greek divinity of Zeus Serapide or Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing.

"It's very unusual to find such well-preserved remains in Rome because most of the sites have usually been plundered already and the artifacts stolen," Dora Cirone, an archeologist on the dig, told reporters last week. "Luckily, much of the remains here were found buried below floor level, and no one had laid their hands on it."

The complex initially belonged to Quintus Servilius Pudens, a wealthy friend of Emperor Hadrian, who probably held private parties in the baths for his friends, archeologists said.

Click here for the Reuters article.

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