Proof might be at hand that the ancient Roman emperor Caligula was every bit as megalomaniacal as anecdotes about his reign suggest.

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a vast palace which they believe was built by the emperor, complete with an intricate sewage system, on the southern side of the Roman Forum next to the temple of Castor and Pollux. While historians have been wary of tales claiming that the emperor incorporated a temple into his home and made the Romans worship him like a god, that story now appears plausible.

According to the ancient biographer Suetonius, Caligula, who reigned from 37 to 41 AD, was a power-crazed, incestuous madman who wanted to make his horse a senator. While it was normal for Roman emperors to be worshipped as gods after their death, to demand such status in life would have been outrageous.

The palace was discovered by a team of archaeologists from Oxford University in England and Stanford University in the US, who were financed by the Rome-based American Institute for Roman Culture. The team will return to the dig for five more summers to continue excavations. Meanwhile, Rome's archaeology superintendent warns that it is still necessary to verify the discoveries.

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