December 4, 2009
Rome Displays Ancient Roman Luxury Complex
Italian officials on Thursday finally unveiled an ancient Roman luxury complex dating back to the 2nd and 4th centuries, full of valuable mosaics, exquisite porticos and thermal baths.
The 2,000 square-yard complex has been excavated off and on since 2004, when the ruins were found by accident during the renovation of a Renaissance palazzo that stands above them, reported the associated press.
During the most recent excavation, which started in March, archaeologists unearthed a palatial room decked out with precious marble and a colorful mosaic comprised of half a million tiles obtained from all across the Roman Empire.
The archaeologists also discovered a "frigidarium", or cold pool, that was part of the baths incorporated in the exclusive complex located right next to the Forum built by Emperor Trajan.
In a statement, archaeologists said that the consolidation and restoration of these halls has provided experts with a greater understanding of the way Roman baths worked.
Sitting on top of the ruins of downtown Rome, the 16th century Palazzo Valentini contains local government offices. The ancient complex will be open to the public from Friday through Jan. 6, before closing again for further exploration.
Visitors are able to see the way it looked originally through a multimedia museum built on the site that offers audio explanations and virtual reality reconstructions projected on the walls.
"The site is almost exactly as we found it," said physicist Paco Lanciano, who is also one of the creators of the museum. "We wanted to respect its authenticity."
Image Caption: Palazzo Valentini. Courtesy Wikipedia