Rome metro works reveal the presence of an ancient Roman centurion’s domus


Last year, Rome’s metro works revealed an ancient aqueduct (from circa 3rd century BC) and ‘Pompeii like scenes‘ (from circa 3rd century AD), with both the fascinating discoveries being made during construction for the underground line C in Piazza Celimontana. Well, this time around, the digs at line C has unveiled what has been touted as the “centurion’s house”. Simply put, the discovery pertains to a domus (presumably of a high ranking officer or centurion) that was connected to the dormitory of the barracks, built during the reign of Emperor Trajan and expanded upon by the time of Emperor Hadrian.


The domus was found almost 40 ft below the current level of Amba Aradam station, near the Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano (St. John Lateran) – the only ‘archbasilica’ of Rome. And interestingly enough, the very scope of the discovery is exceptionally rare, since according to Rossella Rea, the city’s archaeological superintendent, there had been no previous evidence (i.e., before 2016) of ancient Roman barracks or houses connected to barracks found inside the perimeter of Rome proper.


Now while the domus has been identified, the workers at the site are facing the challenge of continuing their infrastructural excavation on the modern metro line while also keeping the incredible discovery safe from the heavy-duty construction and digging processes. To that end, the archaeologists and engineers have formulated the ambitious solution of dismantling the entire domus on a layer-by-layer basis and temporarily moving these sections (inside containers with optimized heating) to another site. And once the metro work is finished, the preserved sections will be reassembled on the original site. Francesco Prosperetti, the Rome Archaeological Heritage Superintendent, said –

He [Italian anti-corruption body ANAC chief Raffaele Cantone] assured me that the place will be made accessible to the public and the whole find will be put back in its place. Exactly how this will happen, compatibly with the metro C line, we’ll have to see.

Source: ANSA / Images Credit: Soprintendenza Speciale Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio di Roma