Unearthed the domus of Hadrian centurion
An imperial age domus was found outside the Aurelian Walls in Via Ipponio near Porta Metronia. Another piece unearthed in Rome from the works for the Metro C Amba Aradam station; the domus will help to understand the topography in the area of San Giovanni between the 2nd and 3rd century AD.
In 2016, during Metro's work, a part of the Castra Equites Singulares, one of the barracks that Domitian had built for the men of barbarian origin who were his bodyguard, had been found at a depth of 12 meters, because he had brought the number from 1200 to 2000, barracks that was completed by Septimius Severus. The barracks were also known as Castra Nova to distinguish it from the Castra Priora that had been built by Trajan and were located on the north side of Celiolo (rediscovered in the area of Via Tasso).
The military corps was disbanded by Constantine and the barracks and its appurtenances razed to the ground and on the area was built the Christian basilica that would later be dedicated to San Giovanni. In the 30s of the last century under the central nave of the San Giovanni Church, the barracks with its central body, or the headquarters had been identified with certainty; these were called principia and there were offices and a part of the buildings including some for the horses. to the carrying out of the activities that concerned their care. The findings under the Lateran provided an initial indication of the orientation and dimensions of this barracks; the north-south orientation of the barracks was also maintained by the Basilica of Constantine, while the current basilica is almost orthogonal to the Castra.
Archaeologists who first studied the Castra Nova revealed how these had been cut from the construction of the walls built by Aurelian in 275 A.D. and doubts remained about their possible extension even further.
In the 2006 survey for the construction of the new Metro C line it was discovered that the Walls were much higher than the 8 meters visible today, reaching 20 meters and therefore they were a real bulwark that had to discourage anyone wanted to conquer Rome at the end of III century. To make the walls an effective defense, Aureliano gave orders to demolish all the buildings that were immediately outside and this happened to that part of the Castra that came to be outside the walls that so disappeared below meters of earth; the buildings were cut to a meter and a half from the floor and covered with soil so that the Walls, made to run along the ridge and made even more difficult to overcome the steep hillside, appeared insurmountable at all people. In 2016, amid everyone's surprise, the Metro excavations brought to light, in an area where it was not believed that the barracks could arrive, the dormitories of the equites singulares; there were 1200 square meters of floor space, as many as 39 rooms, even with mosaic floors and walls with frescoes that it was decided to be cut and stored to be reassembled then in the Amba Aradam Museum-Station. Now the new discovery of two buildings of the same period and pertinent to the same construction will require a review of the station project especially because the excavations have unearthed two wings of the same dormitory, the west one occupied by environments with different functions of use and the east one occupied by a large domus in which it is believed that the commander of the equites lived and for this called "Domus of Centurion". The domus is located at a higher altitude than that of the dormitories to which it was connected by a staircase, and yet dates back, like the other wing, to the same period, the age of Hadrian or at the beginning of the 2nd century AD; the explanation lies in the orography of the area at that time. The area looked like a hill sloping down to the bottom of a valley where a small river flowed, which then flowed into the Tiber; the land was placed in degrading terraces on which the buildings had been built which appeared as wings placed at a different altitude from the valley bottom; according to the archaeologists of the Superintendency of Rome, each wing had an area of about 300 square meters. In the second century that area was a side of Celiolo and occupied by suburban Horti and Villas of the great aristocratic families (like the gens Ummidia) and therefore the domus of Centurion had to appear as a hinge between these and the area where the barracks were located.
The domus was placed in the east wing and developed around a central courtyard with an opus spicatum floor that had a tub in the middle; along the sides were opened 14 rooms and one of these was to be used as a balneum because it was heated, in fact under the floor were found the "suspensurae", piles of bricks that formed a cavity for the passage of hot air.
The house was used for over 150 years and renovated several times as evidenced by overlapping floors that indicate precisely the second half of the third century as the date of abandonment, and in conjunction with the construction of the Aurelian Walls.
Inside the buildings they have also been found objects of daily life, from precious gold rings to the handle in ivory inlaid of a dagger, amulets and the brick stamps that allowed the dating.
Everything that has been found, including the floor mosaics, frescoed plaster and even walls and the marble basin of the courtyard must now be sawn and kept until it will be possible to reconstruct the rooms in the new Amba Aradam Metro Station so that all travelers, Romans and tourists can have the emotion of moving in environments of two thousand years ago.
by M.L. ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (Ed 1.0 - 21/03/2018)