Ancient Roman emperor Nero's theater finally unearthed near Vatican City

Nero was a poet-warrior with a deep interest in theatrical arts, and on his deathbed, he said, "What an artist dies with me!"
Mrigakshi Dixit
Nero's theatre remains.
Nero's theatre remains.

Soprintendenza Speciale Roma 

Roman archaeologists believe that they may have found remains of Nero's theater just east of Vatican City.

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was the fifth emperor of Rome, ruling from AD 54 to AD 68. Nero was a poet-warrior with a deep interest in theatrical arts, and on his deathbed, he said, "What an artist dies with me!" 

Reportedly, the infamous emperor took his own life at the age of 68. 

What's fascinating is that the existence of Nero's theater was only known through ancient Roman text and had never been discovered - until now.

Archaeologists who unearthed this theater-like structure believe it was used as a first-century imperial performance space. As mentioned in Roman texts, this was most likely where Nero prepared poetry and put on musical performances. He enjoyed playing the cithara, a harp-like instrument with seven strings.

They concluded that the remains belong to Nero's theater based on the presence of distinct marble columns and plaster decorated in gold leaf. Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman author and philosopher, vividly described the architectural design of the theater in his writings. 

The “exceptional” findings 

As per reports, Nero's theater was unearthed from deep beneath the walled garden of a medieval palace, frescoed Palazzo della Rovere. The palace is being renovated in preparation for the launch of a Four Seasons Hotel in 2025 at this site.

Since 2020, a team of archaeologists led by Marzia Di Mento has been excavating this location. 

Di Mento told reporters during a news conference, "It is a superb dig, one that every archaeologist dreams of. Being able to dig in this built-up, historically rich area is so rare.”

The theater ruins included a portion of a hemicycle-shaped seating section along with valuable marble, and storage chambers that likely served to keep clothes. 

Researchers discovered a number of artifacts dispersed around the rubble of the structure. 

The other artifacts included seven rare ornate medieval glass chalices, cooking pots, ceramic pieces, coins, musical instrument parts, and bone fragments used to create rosary beads and bone combs. 

Some of the unique ceramic pieces are believed to give insight into this less-known period in the history of Rome. 

Daniela Porro, the special superintendent of Rome, is said to have called discovery as an "exceptional" find. 

Archaeologists estimate that will take the next few years to completely examine these valuable artifacts.  

Meanwhile, officials stated that the moveable artifacts will be relocated to a museum and that the remains of the theater would be covered again after wrapping up the research work. 

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