Archaeologists Uncover A Spectacular 4th Century BC Roman Tomb That Is Still Fully Intact

The Roman tomb has been christened ‘The Tomb of the Athlete’ and was dated to between 335 and 312 BC.

Sean Gallup Getty Images

A 4th century BC tomb has just been discovered in a suburb of Rome while workers were busy constructing an aqueduct, and to everyone’s great surprise, the tomb was found to still be fully intact.

As The New York Times reports, “Had the machine dug just four inches to the left, we would have never found the tomb,” explained archaeological superintendent Francesco Prosperetti. The Roman tomb was found to hold three men and a woman, along with a dazzling array of funerary artifacts.

After gazing at the contents inside of the ancient Roman tomb, archaeologists christened it “The Tomb of the Athlete” after discovering strigils made of bronze beside the bodies. These strigils were once favored by both Greek and Roman athletes so that when they had finished exercising, they could use it to remove any excess sweat brought about by their strenuous workout.

While the males that had been discovered inside the 4th century BC tomb were all found to be above the age of 35, an age that would have been considered quite advanced at the time, archaeologists like Fabio Turchetta found the name of the tomb to be both fitting and amusing.

“To say there was an athlete is a bit of stretch, but it works journalistically.”

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After noticing a spare coin beside one of the skeletons, archaeologists were able to date the tomb from 335 to 312 BC. On this coin was pictured the head of Minerva, the goddess of warfare and wisdom, and when the coin was turned over it was found to depict the head of a horse with the name “Romano” inscribed upon it.

As archaeologist Stefano Musco noted, what made the discovery of the Roman tomb so particularly spectacular was the fact that “it remained intact, and was never violated.”

Artifacts that were found alongside the remains of the four individuals included black-glazed pottery in the form of bowls and plates, and painted onto these pieces of pottery were different animals like rabbits and goats. On the basis of the pottery, it has been surmised that these Romans most likely lived solidly upper class and privileged lives.

Archeologists are now working on carefully removing the contents of the ancient Roman tomb so that DNA from the skeletons can be tested. Plant and pollen samples from the tomb will also be tested so that researchers will be able to determine what the flora was like at the time of death of these occupants.

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Once archaeologists have completed their research on this 4th century BC Roman tomb, there will be more information available about the occupants of this tomb that was miraculously discovered by chance.