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The Most Amazing Artifacts Discovered While Building Rome’s Subway

December 19, 2017 in History

By Becky Little

A view of the excavation site in the future Roman metro station. (Credit: Eric Vandeville /Sipa USA/AP Photo)

The city of Rome is over 2,700 years old. Dig into the ground and you’ll eventually bump into what the old residents left behind.

Over the past decade, the construction and extension of Rome’s third subway line—Line C—has unearthed a treasure trove of artifacts. In December 2017, The New York Times reported that archaeologists had found petrified peach pits and images of an extinct elephant species at the site where the new San Giovanni station will open next year.

Some of the archaeological discoveries will go on display at the San Giovanni station. But there are a lot of other discoveries that have already gone into museums or storage. Here’s a look at some of the amazing things that Rome’s subway construction has unearthed.

Medieval kitchens with pots and pans

A view of the excavation site in the future Roman metro station. (Credit: Eric Vandeville /Sipa USA/AP Photo)

When Italian dictator Benito Mussolini started work on Rome’s first subway in 1937 (which didn’t open till 1955), he wasn’t very concerned about preserving artifacts. Consequently, workers ended up destroying a lot of historic objects that they encountered.

Today, the story is different. Between the beginning of Line C’s construction in 2007 and its opening in 2014, archaeologists have painstakingly recorded and preserved historical artifacts. In 2008, they publicly announced their discovery of imperial medieval homes.

These homes had kitchens that still contained pieces of pots and pans. In particular, researchers were excited to find a ninth-century kitchen with three sauce-heating pots. Before then, only two such pots had been found in Italy.

A copper factory

Archaeologists working in an archaeological dig in Rome’s central Piazza Venezia Square in 2007, in preparation for a new subway line, where a sixth-century copper factory have been found. (Credit: Alessandra Tarantino/AP Photo)

In addition to the kitchens, researchers announced in 2008 that they had found a sixth-century copper factory during Line C’s construction.

Like the kitchens, the factory still had its own tools—specifically, ovens that were used to melt copper alloy. In the Roman Empire, copper was an important component of coins, architecture, and Rome’s famously extensive plumbing system.

Around the same time that researchers discovered the factory and kitchens, they found parts of the ancient road of Via Flaminia. More morbidly, they also found the remains of two children. Several years …read more


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