Lonely Planet Writer

Workers on Rome’s new metro line discover ‘sensational’ ancient aqueduct

Rome’s archaeological authorities have described the recent unearthing of a 2300-year-old Roman aqueduct by builders digging a new metro line C as “a sensational discovery of enormous importance”.

 

Metro workers dug down 17-18 metres below the city’s streets to create an enormous ventilation shaft for the new metro line. In the process they uncovered many layers of archaeology going right back to the Iron Age, including the star discovery of a two-metre tall Roman aqueduct. According to archaeologist Simona Morretta, “It was thanks to the concrete bulkheads used for work on the metro that we could get down to that level.”

Domed roof tops of Santa Maria di Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli, from the Pincio, Rome, Italy.
Domed roof tops of Santa Maria di Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli, from the Pincio, Rome, Italy. Image by Sylvain Sonnet / Getty Images

Morretta believes the 32-metre-long section is most likely part of the Rome’s oldest aqueduct, the Aqua Appia, which was created in 312BC. The structure, which is built from rectangular-shaped stone blocks, coated with cement on the inside, most likely continues on either side of the area that has been excavated. It was only used as an aqueduct for a short time, after which the Romans utilised it as a sewer.

The aqueduct has been dismantled and placed into storage. The plan is to rebuild it and put it on display. One possible exhibition space could be San Giovanni metro station, which is going to be home to a museum of archaeological discoveries unearthed by work on the metro once it opens to the public.

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