Archaeologists Undercover Ancient Military Barracks While Building Metro Station in Rome

Commander's House Discovery - Ancient Roman Archeology

Building a subway in Rome is like nowhere else on earth. As shovels hit the ground, it's almost certain that archaeological treasures will surface. Indeed, archaeological investigations for the new Metro C line began in 2006, with the first stations operational 8 years later. As work continues to expand the line, new discoveries are continually revealed and Italy's Ministry of Culture has just unveiled new images of ancient military barracks buried deep below ground level.

The 2nd-century CE barracks and dormitory were first discovered by archaeologists in the summer of 2016 while working on the Amba Aradam metro stop. Located near to the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, the barracks were buried 15 meters (about 49 feet) below ground level. Now, they have also uncovered new parts of the complex. One wing forms the so-called “Commander's House.” Measuring 300 square meters (about 3,200 square feet), it's broken up into 14 different rooms, including a courtyard with a fountain, well-preserved floor mosaics, and a room fitted for underfloor heating.

“It is an exceptional discovery because a barracks has never been identified before in Rome, nor a domus connected to the barracks,” said Rome's archaeological superintendent, Rossella Rea. The space, which was located 12 meters (39 feet) underground, will be dismantled piece by piece and moved to another location before being placed back on-site. Interestingly, it's clear that the domus was well maintained over time, as archeologists were able to see continual restoration efforts in the wall and floor coverings.

Ancient Roman Floor Mosaic Metro C Archaeology

In the last phase of renovations to the site, it appears that there was also a staircase installed to go up to an upper room, such as an office or another dormitory space. This is what leads archeologists to believe we are looking at the living quarters of a commander, as a large service area where goods were temporarily stored was discovered.

These discoveries demonstrate just how much we still have to learn about the ancient Romans, and reminds us of the incredible treasures that still await us just below the surface of Rome's streets.

Archaeologists in Rome have uncovered a well-preserved ancient military barracks while completing work on the city's new metro line.

Archeologists Working Under Metro C

Ancient Roman Floor Mosaic Metro C Archeology

Ancient Roman Floor Mosaic Metro C Archeology

h/t: [Hyperallergic]

All images via MiBACT.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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