Romans hail discovery of their 'new Pompeii'

Peter Popham
Wednesday 19 January 2005 01:00
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Thirteen metres beneath the streets of Rome, archaeologists have discovered what people are calling "a new Pompeii" that has been buried for nearly two millennia.

Thirteen metres beneath the streets of Rome, archaeologists have discovered what people are calling "a new Pompeii" that has been buried for nearly two millennia.

Using video cameras, a team of researchers has unveiled a mosaic, in almost perfect condition, showing a team of naked men at the time of Emperor Nero, trampling the grape harvest.

Work on reconstructing the artistic wonders of Nero's reign began in 1998 and has yielded a number of extraordinary mosaics. But this is the most striking to date. Covering an area of three metres by two metres, it depicts five figures: one taking bundles of grapes from a basket, three trampling them and the fifthplaying a double flute.

Jubilation at the discovery is tempered by the realisation that the city cannot afford to exhibit the discovery. "Everything we've done so far has been financed by the city of Rome, at a cost of €6m (£4m)," said Gianni Borgna, councillor for culture in the city government. He believes it will cost an extra €50m to finish the job. The city is appealing for help.

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