Rome unearths remains of Caligula's lavish palace and gardens

Traces of the depraved emperor's luxurious palace and ornate gardens have been discovered under an office building in Rome.

Rome archaeologists have discovered remains of the lavish home and gardens of Emperor Caligula under an office building in the Esquilino area of the city, reports The Times.

The discovery of artefacts and traces of the luxuriously-decorated palace and ornate gardens follows a three-year dig under a 19th-century office block belonging to doctors’ pension institute Enpam in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.

The excavation was overseen by Rome's soprintendenza for cultural heritage and the discoveries are set to go on public display, according to Rome daily newspaper Il Messaggero.

Photo Il Messaggero

Archaeologists uncovered traces of a garden complex with water fountains and bones belonging to exotic animals.

"We have found bones from the foot of a lion, the tooth of a bear, and bones of ostriches and deer" - Dr Mirella Serlorenzi of Italy's culture ministry told The Times - "We can imagine animals running free in this enchanted landscape, but also wild animals that were used for the private circus games of the emperor."

The interiors were covered in rich frescoes and complex polychrome marble decorations, according to The Times, while other discoveries include jewels, coins, seeds of imported exotic plants and a metal brooch belonging to an imperial guard.

Photo Fondazione Enpam

Archaeologists describe the site as a "complex archaeological stratification" with gardens laid out on various levels, linked by a white marble staircase whose remains were also unearthed.

The property was bequeathed to the estate of the emperor by the wealthy senator and consul Lucius Aelius Lamia when Caligula became the third leader of the Roman Empire in 37 AD at the age of 24.

In the 16th century there were also significant discoveries at the site, according to Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, with some of the finds now part of the collection of the Capitoline Museums.

Caligula - known for his sadistic, depraved and tyrannical lifestyle - was murdered in 41 AD and was succeeded by Emperor Claudius.

Cover photo: Scene from the controversial 1979 movie Caligula.

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Address Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, 78, 00185 Roma RM, Italy

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Rome unearths remains of Caligula's lavish palace and gardens

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, 78, 00185 Roma RM, Italy