A city as built up and permanently inhabited as Rome, it hides its most ancient secrets well, and its famous archeological sites and museums contain almost nothing from the period around the city’s traditional founding (April 21, 753 BC). As of this month, this is no longer the case. The Roman National Museum is located gallery opening dedicated to exhibiting funerary objects from the earliest years of Rome, which for decades went unnoticed in the shops of the Baths of Diocletian.
A two-year program aimed at stabilizing, cataloging, analyzing and recovering objects found in a large 8th-7th century BC necropolis. on Via Laurentina, the ancient road that connected Rome with Lavinium, near the medieval Castello di Decima. Excavations have been ongoing at the site since 1971, and hundreds of graves have been discovered. Perhaps the most archaeologically significant of them, tomb 359, was discovered in 1991, removed to an earthen block and then locked up in a wooden box for another twenty years.
Tomb 359 was exceptional in terms of the number of luxurious artifacts in the tomb and their unique arrangement within a tree trunk. This is why archaeologists removed it entirely to preserve valuable context, rather than excavate it on the spot. The soil block will not be excavated for another 20 years.
Finally, in 2021, tomb 359 was cleared and preserved. The two-year process revealed the presence of human remains that had previously been thought to have decomposed in the soil. They belonged to a young woman who died around 730 BC when she was between 18 and 24 years old. Therefore, she and Rome were born at the same time.
She was buried wearing jeweled clothes: a necklace made of bronze pendants in the form of animals and people, large rings attached to a dress with bronze and amber brooches, silver hair ornaments and much more. A complete banquet service with sacrificial knives, skewers for cooking meat, bronze and ceramic drinking vessels was also buried with her. The grave goods contain items of Etruscan and South Italian origin. The amber in her brooch was brought from the Baltic Sea.
The contents of Tomb 359 and other artifacts from the first two centuries of Rome’s existence will be on display at the Baths of Diocletian until September 3 this year.