Archaeologists discover ancient Rome may have been much larger than previously believed

Archaeologists discover ancient Rome may have been much larger than previously believed

Archaeologists discover ancient Rome may have been much larger than previously believed

A house found in the central district of Ancient Rome can prove that the city was considerably larger than previously thought.

The rectangular house was found on the Quirinal Hill between modern via Veneto and Termini train stations and may date back to the sixth century BC. It is still largely intact.

The Quirinal, the sixth of the early seven kings of Rome, was believed to be occupied during the reign of Servius Tullius. It was once the site of a village of the Sabines that venerated a god called Quirinius, hence the name of the hill.

Archaeologists have previously thought that the site is a sacred area, reserved for temples and the necropolis, with residential areas located far south of the Forum.

Now the Quirinal is the site where the President of the Italian Republic officially lives, although the King of Italy and the Pope have lived there.

Rome was ruled by seven kings , beginning with Romulus, the legendary founder of the city (753 to 715 BC). Servius Tullius reigned between 579 BC and 535 BC and was succeeded by Tarquinus Superbus (534 to 510 BC) who was overthrown and forced into exile.

Schematic map of Rome showing the Seven Hills of Rome, including Quirinal Hill.

The Roman historian Livy wrote that the Republic that came after was established by Brutus and Collatinus. Thereafter it was governed by a system in which two consuls were elected, both of them answerable to the Senate.

The kings had absolute power with the Senate only responsible for putting their commands into practice.

It was the symbol of these kings, the bunch of rods surrounding an axe known as the ‘fasces’, that gave rise to the word ‘fascism’.

Painting of the Colosseum in Rome in 1832, showing extensive disrepair and vegetation.
The ruins of a Roman amphitheater in Lecce, Italy. Representational.

The purple toga was retained by later Roman executives, particularly members of the Senate.

The house was constructed with wooden beams and clay walls . It consisted of two rooms and may have been entered via a porch.

The building rests on a volcanic stone called tufa which is abundant in central Italy and was regularly used by ancient engineers. A building of this type was most probably occupied by a wealthy member of the Roman elite.

Its discovery may indicate that early sixth century Rome was not just centered on the Forum, but actually much bigger.

It is possible the building was a custodians’ residence linked to a nearby temple discovered in 2013, however there are indications that it was constructed at least 50-60 years before the temple itself. 

“This is an exceptional find, among the most important of the last 10 years” Francesco Prosperetti, superintendent for Rome’s Archaeological Heritage, told The Telegraph . Mr Prosperetti announced the discovery of the residence last week.

Ms Serlorenzi told the Italian news agency, ANSA, that in the early sixth century Rome was much larger and extended over a wider area than the central district arranged around the Forum.

The newly discovered residence could have been the abode of a custodian of a temple that was discovered in 2013.

Ancient ruins on Quirinal Hill, Rome. Representational image.

According to Darius Arya, an American archaeologist involved with excavations at Ostia Antica, a large part of Rome’s historical heritage is not so well preserved as those monuments currently undergoing grand restoration projects, such as the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain.

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