Wednesday, September 4, 2013


EXPERTS digging at a long-buried city in Italy have unearthed a massive stone monument dating back at least 300 years before the Colosseum ... and 100 years before the invention of mortar.

Like the Pyramids of Egypt or the lost city of Machu Picchu, the stones of the huge structure are fitted together without any bonding agent ... a technique hitherto not known to have been used by the Romans.

The new discovery indicates that the ancient Romans had developed architectural skills much earlier than previously believed.

The discovery was made b team of 60 researchers from the University of Michigan and Yale University.

The unearthed ancient structure was found at a site known as Gabii, which sits just east of Rome. The monument, a giant "Lego-like" stone block structure, is about half the size of a football field and dates back to between 350 and 250 BC.

Nicola Terrenato, a U-M classics professor and lead scientist on the project, believes it could be the earliest public building ever discovered and said this is the largest American dig in Italy in the past half century.

He said the massive complex, which might also have been a private residence, "holds a stone retaining wall, geometrically patterned floors and two terraces connected by a grand staircase."

This is unlike anything we thought the Romans were capable of building at the time, noted Terrenato, who added that it challenges an ancient stereotype that these people were a "modest and conservative people" at this period in history.

"There are a lot of constructive details that are beautiful to look at and they tell us more about how the Romans were building at that stage," Terrenato said.

"This shows us they were beginning to experiment with modifying their natural environments—cutting back the natural slope and creating a retaining wall, for example— about a quarter of a millennium earlier than we thought," he added.

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