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Archaeologists Unearth Emperor Caligula's Exotic Palace, Artefacts Under an Office in Rome

Emperor Caligula depicted in 'Caligula' movie.

Emperor Caligula depicted in 'Caligula' movie.

The Italian researchers who excavated the site that once belonged to Caligula found a luxury palace with an ornate garden complete with water fountains and a typical royal menagerie that used to keep ostriches, deer and even a bear.

Known for being one of the greatest and most influential civilisations of humankind, the Roman empire continues to surprise modern archaeologists with its artefacts. A royal home and garden occupied by Emperor Caligula have been discovered recently under an office building in central Rome. The Italian researchers who excavated the site found a luxury palace with an ornate garden complete with water fountains and a typical royal menagerie that used to keep ostriches, deer and even a bear.

The excavation has also brought out ancient jewels, coins, animal bones and a metal brooch belonging to an imperial guard that is set to go on public display, reports The Times. The third leader of the Roman Empire, Caligula, lived a spoilt royal lifestyle and indulged in brazen affairs with wives of his allies and incestuous relationships with his sisters before he was killed in AD 41.

According to The Times, the site of excavation is a complex archaeological stratification that lies under the offices of Enpam, a doctors’ pension institute along Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II – a piazza in south-eastern central Rome. Archaeologists have been working with Enpam, the owner of the building, in the remains of the garden, to excavate the site. It took three years of digging under the offices to reveal the exotic gardens and pavilions buried underneath.

It is the area of Esquiline Hill, which is one of the Seven Hills of Rome upon which the city was originally built. The Soprintendenza for Cultural Heritage of Rome is now building a museum over the former fortress.

Speaking to The Times, Dr Mirella Serlorenzi from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities said that the remains tell an incredible story right from the animals. They have found bones from the foot of a lion, the tooth of a bear, and bones of ostriches and deer from the recent excavation. The team of archaeologists also uncovered seeds of imported exotic plants, remains of a white marble staircase that linked different levels of the garden and a water pipe which had the name of Caligula's successor Claudius.


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