Builders redeveloping a former wasteland on the north-eastern outskirts of Rome unearthed a second century AD necropolis containing several sealed sarcophagi. Local historians and archaeologists were aware of the existence of a Roman villa in Via di Tor Cervara, which runs along the Aniene river, because of scattered ruins. However, the discovery of the graveyard came as a complete surprise. It is thought to be the sacred burial site of a well-to-do Roman family, who resided in the nearby villa. The site comprises a Roman road, a two-metre deep pool carved out of the rock, and two underground hypogea, one of which contains the six marble caskets in a series of niches. One large sarcophagus is of the Etruscan style with a carved representation of the deceased couple on the lid, while another miniature casket was made for a child. The stonework has suffered because of the acidity of the soil, but the sealed state of the sarcophagi more than makes up for it. Archaeologists rarely find sealed burial caskets from antiquity because of grave robbers. In the next few months specialists will open the caskets one by one, examining them for evidence to help reconstruct the familys times, customs and personal lives.
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