Thursday, February 25th, 2010
Archaeologists excavating in the site of ancient Gabii south of Rome have uncovered the beginnings of lavish palace which probably belonged to the family of Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last Etruscan king of Rome.
So far just three rooms have been found, but they’ve already found terracotta roof tiles decorated with a minotaur, the emblem of the Tarquins, so they’re hoping they’ll find a lot more intact spaces as well as remains of the caved in parts.
“It’s an extraordinary find,” Rome Archaeological Superintendent Angelo Bottini said at the site….
Aside from its historical value, the site is of “exceptional” archeological importance because similar buildings in Rome and other large cities were demolished to make way for later ones, Bottini observed. The 6th-century BC ruins, brought to light between September and December, in fact contain the highest intact walls of such a date ever found in Italy, at about two metres.
Under the well-preserved floor, archaeologists found 8 cells containing human remains, including 5 still-born infants. They weren’t human sacrifices, but rather buried during propitiatory rites before the building was built.
Tarquinius Superbus was considered a great tyrant by the Romans, who had become accustomed to being treated with respect according to pre-established social contracts by previous kings. The Tarquins were even related to the top families in Rome, including the Junii.
It was Lucius Junius Brutus who killed Tarquin after Tarquin’s son raped Lucretia, daughter of the prefect of Rome who was known for her virtue and who committed suicide after the rape by stabbing herself in the heart in front of her father.
He became the first co-consul of the Roman Republic. It was his descendant Marcus Junius Brutus who many centuries later on a certain Ides of March would plunge a dagger into another tyrant type fellow, one Gaius Julius Caesar.