August 9, 2009

Archaeologists Uncover Birthplace Of Roman Emperor Vespasian

A sprawling country villa believed to be the birthplace of Vespasian, the Roman emperor who built the Colosseum, was unearthed on Friday, The Associated Press reported.

Lead archaeologist Filippo Coarelli said the 2,000-year-old ruins were found about 80 miles northeast of Rome, near Cittareale.

Experts say the 150,000-square-feet complex was at the center of an ancient village called Falacrine, Vespasian's hometown.

Coarelli said that while there are no inscriptions to attribute it for sure, the villa's location and luxury make it likely it was Vespasian's birthplace.

He said in a telephone interview from Cittareale that it was the only villa of its kind in the area where Vespasian most certainly was born.

Coarelli said the 1st-century residence featured a well-preserved huge floor that was decorated with luxurious marble coming from the whole Mediterranean area.

"It's clear that such things could only belong to someone with a high social position and wealth. And in this place, it was the Flavians," he added.

According to historical references, Titus Flavius Vespasianus brought stability to the empire following turmoil under the extravagant Emperor Nero and a civil war among his successors.

Vespasianus was born in A.D. 9 to a family of low-tier country nobility, however he soon rose through the army ranks, becoming the general in charge of putting down a Jewish revolt in Judea.

After eliminating his rivals in A.D. 69, he was acclaimed emperor by his troops and soon found Rome facing a deep economic crisis and still recovering from the fire that consumed it under Nero.

He then launched a major public works program and started building the Colosseum using riches plundered from Jerusalem and proceeds from increased taxes.

The Colosseum became the most ambitious and best preserved of his projects.

The team of Italian and British archaeologists has also turned up other ruins during the four-year excavation, including a necropolis burial ground.


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