Mausoleum discovered at Rome's Ostia Antica

Child's tomb covered with terrible curses

An ancient mausoleum containing a dozen tombs belonging to a family of wealthy nobles has been discovered at Rome's sprawling Ostia Antica archaeological site near the coast.

The burial chamber dates between the third and fourth century and includes a child's lead-covered tomb containing curses of serious illness and painful death against those who desecrate the grave. The mausoleum is located in the Parco dei Ravennati, a 15,000-sqm green area near the Renaissance-era Castello di Giulio II.

The latest dig at the site began in June and involves 30 international students from the American Institute for Roman Culture. The students have also found ancient hooks and lead weights nearby, indicating evidence of the fish trade, as well as an opus sectile floor described by the site's director Paola Germoni as "remarkable" and comprising "imported and highly-prized marbles."

Ostia Antica was founded in the seventh century BC to serve as the port of Rome but due to silting over the centuries it now lies about three km inland.