slave tunnel beneath Hadrian’s Villa

Archaeologists discover hidden slave tunnel beneath Hadrian’s Villa

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A team of archaeologists have found a very large hidden tunnel beneath Hadrian’s Villa near Rome, which would have been used by slaves to ferry food, fire wood and other goods from one part of the sprawling imperial palace to another without being seen by the emperor or his imperial dignitaries.

Hadrian’s Villa is a vast country estate on 250 acres in Tivoli, Italy, which consisted of more than 30 major buildings including palaces, libraries, heated baths, theatres, courtyards and landscaped gardens. It was built in the 2nd century AD by Hadrian, Roman Emperor from 117 to 138, and was the largest ever constructed in the Roman period.

Beneath the complex, archaeologists have already found more than two miles of tunnels and passageways, but the latest discovery is far larger than the rest and at 10 feet wide was big enough to have taken carts and wagons. It has been dubbed by archaeologists the Great Underground Road — in Italian the Strada Carrabile.

“All the majesty of the villa is reflected underground,” Vittoria Fresi, the archaeologist leading the research project said.  “The underground network helps us to understand the structures that are above ground.”

In contrast to the palace, which fell into disrepair after the fall of the Roman Empire, the underground network remains “almost intact”.

Heritage officials are now planning to open up the underground network of passageways to the public, revealing for the first time an intriguing subterranean world which lay buried for nearly two millennia.

By April Holloway

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