Layer-Cake City: New Roman Excavation Finished, Subway, Under Art Center, Under Traffic Circle

Excavations for a new subway station in Rome had unsurprisingly, run afoul of “the most important Roman discovery in 80 years”, according to the Guardian (UK). While tunneling under the ancient Italian capital, railway workers uncovered an amphitheater built by the Emperor Hadrian in 123 c.e., which has been excavated and will open to the public soon, 18 feet beneath the busy Piazza Venezia. Railway engineers think that the new subway station can be squeezed in, using one of the original roman hallways as an exit to street level.

The third subway line in Rome runs 80 feet underground, below the level of the city’s earliest habitation, but has to come up sometimes for air shafts and stations, each time seeking the path of least resistance through ancient, medieval, renaissance and modern construction. It’s a mixed blassing for archeologists: something historic always gets destroyed, but funding to do the digging would not  be forthcoming otherwise.

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