April 1, 2023

And they unearthed the remains of a 10th-century road, and even older buildings, finds that suggest that from the 6th century AD into the early Middle Ages, this was a bustling area. Archaeologists believe the structures may have been stores serving pilgrims who stopped at the Christian sites that would have sprung up in the area around this time.

“Urban excavations provide vital information to better understand the topography of an area at different times,” said Mirella Serlorenzi, scientific director of the excavations, which are carried out by the Special Superintendency of Rome, a branch of the Ministry of Culture, and Roma Tre University.

But the excavation was hampered – and eventually blocked – by a powerful flow of groundwater that even modern pumps couldn’t keep up with.

“Unfortunately, because of the water table, we cannot go any lower,” said Ms Serlorenzi, who is also director of the Caracalla thermal baths. She pointed to a section of excavated earth with a large gash through which a large jet of water was gushing. “We risked losing knowledge and information,” she said. The excavations were therefore stopped when the archaeologists reached a level of about one and a half meters above the street level of Roman times.

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