Archaeologists have mapped out an ancient Roman city without digging up anything and only using ground-penetrating radar. The ancient underground city is called Falerii Novi and is located approximately 30 miles north of Rome.
Back in the year 241 BC, there was a conflict between the Romans and the Faliscan people who were living in the Lazio area of Italy. The Romans won the battle and took possession of the natives’ slaves, weapons, and the majority of the area in which they inhabited. The original town was destroyed and a new city measuring over 30 hectares was constructed a few miles away by the Romans and they named it Falerii Novi. Around 700 AD, it became abandoned; however, the original city was eventually re-developed, surviving to this very day and is called Civita Castellana.
As for the mapping of Falerii Novi, archaeologists connected a quad bike to several machines that conducted radio-waves in order to find out what’s hidden beneath the ground in great detail. The researchers who are from the universities of Cambridge and Ghent, found some pretty interesting buildings, such as a vast theater, housing complexes with two insulae, market, temples, and a bath complex, as well as water pipes from the 3rd century. Several pictures of the site can be seen here.
They even discovered an extraordinarily rare public monument that’s never been seen before from the ancient times in Rome. The researchers described this monument in detail, “Immediately to the east of the north gate is an enclosure defined on three sides by a substantial porticus duplex (covered passageway with central row of columns) approximately 90 × 40m [300 x 130ft] in size, opening onto the street,” adding, “A pair of structures, each with a central niche, face each other within the interior of the complex. While we know of no direct parallel to this structure, this was evidently a public monument.”
Professor Martin Millett, who is from the University of Cambridge and one of the researchers, explained the significance of mapping the city using radar, “The level of detail provided by this work has shown how this type of survey has the potential to revolutionize archaeological studies of urban sites.”
It will take more time in order for the researchers to analyze all of the data obtained from the ground-penetrating radar as it takes them approximately 20 hours to go through all the information gathered on just one hectare. Their study was published in the journal Antiquity and can be read in full here.