Archaeologists Discover Extravagant Artifacts Hidden Beneath Rome’s Subway During Construction Of New Line

With a new line being built on Rome's subway, a wealth of treasures have been recovered.

Archaeologists have discovered artifacts hidden under Rome's subway.
Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

With a new line being built on Rome's subway, a wealth of treasures have been recovered.

Deep beneath the busy city streets of Rome are a treasure trove of hidden artifacts just waiting to be found, and a new line being built on Rome’s subway is now allowing archaeologists to take a closer look at thousands of years worth of history and explore these artifacts which were buried long ago.

While archaeologists are routinely able to participate in digs under different city sites that are approximately 26 feet below ground, what makes the addition of Line C of Rome’s subway so very special is the fact that it extends 100 feet below the surface of the streets. This is enabling archaeologists to recover objects that even stretch back to Paleolithic times.

Rossella Rea, who is in charge of the archaeological project beneath the subway in Rome, explained that archaeologists “haven’t done anything so extensive or gone so deeply” in this area before, according to the New York Times.

“This subway has provided a wealth of knowledge about the city that no other operation could have duplicated.”

So many artifacts have been discovered while Line C is being built in Rome that Francesco Prosperetti, a superintendent also working on the project, has remarked that there are now “enough materials to fill a warehouse.”

  Andrew Medichini / AP Images

When Rome’s first subway was in the process of being built in 1937, Benito Mussolini didn’t really take into consideration all of the priceless artifacts also underground. As a consequence, numerous historical objects were obliterated forever up until the time the subway was officially opened in 1955, as History reported.

Fortunately things are very different today, and as work continues on Rome’s subway system, a wide range of historical structures have been popping up, including a massive building that was once called Auditoria. This public space had its origins in the time of Hadrian and archaeologists believe that this two-story structure may very well have once been a university, and perhaps even Rome’s first one.

Another structure that surprised archaeologists were the remains of 39 rooms dating back to the second century which formed part of a military barracks. Many of these rooms were decorated in a very austere fashion with just black and white floors and walls, which would have held the most basic of mosaics on them. Thirteen skeletons were found at this location, and it is assumed that these were probably once members of the army of Hadrian who met their end here and have been been faithfully preserved with time.

Other interesting objects were also discovered, including leftover trash, such as petrified peach pits from exotic Persian peaches that Roman citizens would have once partaken of, as well as the last grisly scenes of the skeleton of a dog who had burned to death 1,800 years ago during a large house fire in Rome, something likened to a “Pompeii-like scene,” according to the Culture Ministry.

Many of the artifacts that archeologists have discovered during construction of Line C of the subway in Rome have been showcased before the public and exhibited at the station to give passengers a sense of the history of this ancient city, as Francesco Prosperetti elaborated.

“We wanted to give a sense of the archaeological study, tell the story of this place, allowing the passenger to travel through time.”

With government officials in Rome now so careful to preserve artifacts during construction, unlike the time of Mussolini, some have pointed to Fellini’s film, Roma, as a lesson in the safe preservation of artifacts. In his 1972 film, frescoes found in a subway being built are seen to virtually disappear as soon as they see daylight, something which was admittedly a deeply “traumatizing” event to witness on screen for many, according to archaeologist Simona Morretta.

With construction still continuing on Rome’s subway, the collection of artifacts being both discovered and recovered to be exhibited by archaeologists can only grow.