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PRESENTATION

500 YEARS OF THE VATICAN MUSEUMS 1506 - 2006

THE ROMAN NECROPOLIS OF THE VIA TRIUMPHALIS

October 12th, 2006

PRESS RELEASE



Among the events organized in celebration of the V Centenary of the Vatican Museums, on October 12th, 2006 the new section of the Roman necropolis of the Via Triumphalis, discovered during the construction of the new parking
lot of Santa Rosa in the Vatican City State, will be presented to public.

 

The excavations of this new important area were conducted by archaeologists of the Vatican Museums, which brought to light a conspicuous section of the necropolis, which turned out to be the continuation of the section that had already been discovered in the 1950’s.  This area is known as the “Necropoli dell’Autoparco” as it was discovered during the construction of the Autoparco vaticano.

The two burial sites, together with the nearby Sections of  the “Galea” and the “Annona” constitute part of a large necropolis positioned along the ancient Via Triumphalis, a road which led from Rome to Veio (Isola Farnese) passing through Monte Mario. Thanks to this last discovery, two of the most complete and documented necropolises of Imperial Rome are now accessible in the Vatican City. One being along the Via Cornelia, which can be visited from
the excavations below Basilica where S. Peter’s tomb is located, and the other along the Via Triumphalis.

The excavations have brought to light approximately forty burial structures of small and medium sizes, as well
as over two hundred single tombs arranged on multiple levels, and marked by memorial stones, stele, altars
and tombstones often containing inscriptions. Such epigraphical  material is of great historical-social interest
and importance. The majority of the tombs are in a good state of preservation and are dateable between the end of the
1st century B.C. and the beginning of the 4th century  A.D., more or less from the Augustan age up to the Constantinian age. Some of the structures present interesting wall decorations in fresco and stucco and mosaic floors.

In addition, funerary altars, urns, and sarcophagi with figures in bas-relief have been discovered.  Of particular interest is the sarcophagus of the young member of the equestrian order Publius Caesilius Victorinus ( 270-290 A.D.), which presents the figure of  an orant female standing next a tree where a bird is roosting on.  Such iconography
appears to bring the deceased in a  Christian realm, in a time which  previous to the Constantinian peace (Editto di Milano 313 A.D.).

The inscriptions at times state the original trade or the place of these figures, offering a most interesting slice
of daily life. The tombs include such furnishings as lamps and vessels still in place, ready to be utilized for family members to make offers to the deceased. There are also altars with still evident holes the 0garlands hung from.

Thanks to a further revision made to the original project, this new archaeological area has now been enclosed within the structure of the parking lot, taking the name of the pre-existing “Piazzale di Santa Rosa”.         

This archaeological complex (Sections of Santa Rosa and “Autoparco”) will be open for visitors on Friday’s
and Saturday’s in groups of a maximum of twenty-five people, and requires advance reservation by writing to the Ufficio Visite Speciali (email: visitedidattiche.musei@scv.va). Ticket (including the guide): Euro 8 per person.

For this occasion the Edizioni D’Arte De Luca published a guide book entitled La necropoli vaticana lungo
la Via Trionfale
, which was edited by Francesco Buranelli, with texts by Paolo Liverani and Giandomenico Spinola.



INFORMATION:

UFFICIO STAMPA MUSEI VATICANI

Dott.ssa Lucina Vattuone, Dott.ssa Cristina Gennaccari

Tel. 06 69883041

Fax 06 69885236

E-mail: stampa.musei@scv.va