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Archaeologists Discover a Buried City Outside Rome Without Having to Dig It Up

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  • Archeologists used radar technology that produces electromagnetic waves which bounce back when they reach an underground structure.
  • The city had a complex bathhouse and a large public monument, the type which has never been seen before.
  • The city was about half the size of Pompeii, which was about 75 acres.

Archaeologists discovering cities is nothing new. This one stands out, however, because of one thing – they didn’t have to dig something up to find it.

Just recently, a group of researchers from the UK and Belgium were able to map out Falerii Novi, an ancient city which they located about 30 miles outside of Rome. Their discoveries were published in the scientific journal Antiquity.

No digging was required to discover this buried city.

By using radar technology that scans beneath the soil and produces electromagnetic waves that bounce back when they reach an underground structure, they were able to produce a 3D image of the city.

The researchers were able to recognize new structures, which included a complex bathhouse and a large public monument, the type which has never been seen before.

Using the technology, they were also able to understand how Falerii Novi was organized in comparison to other towns in Rome.

The project was developed here, among the fields and the visible walls of the city.

Falerii Novi was not nearly as grand as Pompeii, but it showed unique features. For one, it had an aqueduct that not only ran underneath along the streets (the common design during that period), but also underneath the city blocks. They also found out that there were temples at the edge of the city. This suggested that the land was used for sacred purposes.

Remnants of an ancient theater. The Church of Santa Maria de Falerii is in the background.

According to the researchers,”Although we are yet to understand how this sacred landscape functioned, the survey provides new insights into the variety of planning concepts underlying what are sometimes incorrectly considered to be ‘standardized’ Roman town plans.”

The Jupiter Gate, which once served as the entrance to Falerii Novi.

They added that “by providing a contrast with more familiar towns such as Pompeii,” their research also identifies significant questions about the planning of towns in Rome.

Built around 241 BC, Falerii Novi became one of the 2000 cities in ancient Rome by the first century. A lot of these towns were buried as time went by with the steady rise of ground levels. Some of them were intentionally buried in order to build new settlements on top.

Falerii Novi’s last inhabitants left around AD 700, during the early medieval period. The city was about half the size of Pompeii, which was about 75 acres. It took around 8 hours for the researchers to document each one of these acres.

They were able to outline the major landmarks as well and illustrate how the inhabitants might have lived more than 1300 years ago – a life made of worshiping, shopping, exercising, bathing, and theater performances.

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