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The ongoing construction of a new route on Rome’s metro has uncovered a plethora of archaeological riches from the city’s antiquity. The city’s metro is notoriously difficult to construct, as any dig is likely to hit upon evidence of Rome’s multilayered past, some of which may be of great value. Among the artefacts uncovered were Roman pottery, mosaics and even entire building plans.  The C line has 22 stations currently open and the newest station, San Giovanni, features a mini museum of its ancient treasures; passengers can view a selection of the 40,000 objects discovered during construction, delving into the history of the neighbourhood from the Ice Age to the 5th century AD as they wait for their train. The station museum has been described as a time-machine, taking you further and further back as you walk.

The next station scheduled to open is Amba Aradam, situated in an area that has proven archeologically very fruitful. Researches digging at around 9 metres below street level unearthed a huge building complex of 39 rooms, which is thought to have been military barracks during the rule of Emperor Hadrian. Subsequently, the house of the military commander was also discovered close by, containing 14 rooms and a central courtyard- the typical layout of a house for those that could afford it. Some reports suggest that the home also includes a bath house. City officials are planning to preserve these buildings as part of an “archaeological station”, with the barracks and house integrated into the station itself. Francesco Prosperetti, head of Rome’s archaeological department, is confident that Amba Aradam is set to become “the most beautiful metro station in the world.” It is not certain when this museum-cum-station will be open to the public, as it is possible that yet more ruins will be brought to light as the digging continues.

Applicants for Archaeology and Anthropology, HSPS, or Classics may be interested in the discoveries being made, what they reveal about past civilisations and how the city is responding to them. Students may also wish to think about the relationship of a city, people, or nation to its past. What cultural links shape and maintain this relationship?

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