February 10, 2011

Archaeologists Unearth Ancient Roman Sculptures

A group of archaeologists have discovered a set of six marble sculptures in Rome that may have belonged to a high-ranking officer in the Roman Empire, Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities said on Wednesday.

The archaeologists, led by Roberto Egidi, unearthed five marble heads from the Severan imperial dynasty and a statue of the Greek god Zeus at the digsite. The figures were buried in an ancient fountain of a Roman villa along the Via Anagnina street in southeast Rome.

The discovery is considered one of Rome's biggest and most important finds in recent memory. It sheds light on housing conditions during the imperial period, the ministry told AFP in a statement.

The sculptures will be handed over to the National Museum of Rome and will be preserved at the Diocletian Baths near Termini station where they will undergo restorations.

The last owner of the sculptures may have been a "high-ranking official related to the dynasty" of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, the statement said.

"The existence of a mausoleum dating back to the late imperial period reinforces such a hypothesis due to the ritual, common in the second and third centuries, of burying the owner next to his house," it added.

Severus ruled from 193-211 AD, after the tumultuous reign of Commodus. He founded the Severan dynasty which ended in 235 when one of his heirs was assassinated.

The dig was financed by a group of private entrepreneurs who took action after other relics had been discovered last June belonging to the extravagant Roman house.


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