Saturday, July 30, 2011

Museion discovered on the Oppian Hill in Rome?

Images from http://www.comune.roma.it/

Discoveries made during the excavations under the Baths of Trajan on the Oppian Hill were announced in Rome yesterday.
Archaeologists were excavating in the southwest tunnel under the Baths of Trajan when they discovered a large wall mosaic dating to the second half of the first century AD.  The mosaic covers a section of the wall almost 16 metres in length and was excavated at a depth of almost 2 metres, but the archaeologists of the Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma Capitale who are conducting the excavation, consider that the excavation will continue to a much greater depth.
The subject matter of the mosaic, which depicts Apollo and the Muses, is thematically linked to the wall paintings discovered in the 1998 excavations in the same area that featured a philosopher and a Muse against an architectural background.

The god Apollo
The themes of the decoration of the two areas, along with a number of architectural clues, suggests that this may be the site of a Museion – a building devoted to the arts and philosophy under the patronage of Apollo and the Muses. The building complex is of very high quality and includes water features, sophisticated decoration and places for the artistic elite to gather.
However, use of the complex appears to have been very short lived, since along with other buildings in this sector of the ancient city it was built over as part of the construction of the Baths of Trajan. The excavations under the Baths are revealing information about a huge hitherto unknown part of the city (over one thousand square metres) whose life was interrupted at the end of the first century AD.

The wall mosaics cover a large area
The excavation is part of a project of upgrading and enhancing the archaeological centre of Ancient Rome. The idea is to re-imagine the monumental heart of the city as a single, accessible, protected areas, with more sites open to the public. It is hoped that this will give added value to the historical city and increase tourist income. The central area includes the Circus Maximus, the Theatre of Marcellus, the Capitol, Roman Forum, and Palatine, the Colosseum, and the Oppian and Caelian Hills.

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