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The Cripta Balbi: discovering the evolution of ancient Rome

2013-08-15

The Cripta Balbi is a real walk back in time through the streets of Ancient Rome. It is a hidden gem that few tourists know about.Italian archaeologist Guglielmo Gatti discovered it by looking at map of ancient Rome engraved in marble.   


Excavations started shortly after, and have revealed how this site was used during the Roman empire's thousand year long history.

LAURA VENDITTELLI 
Director, Cripta Balbi Museum 
"The archaeological layering show us how the site was used, the transformations it underwent through the ages and how the various buildings got to be as they are today.” 

The site's museum features everyday objects used by the Romans both in ancient times and during the Middle Ages. 

This also shows how this place has a long history. It was first used as a type of 'community center' for people to use before or after they attended performances in theaters. Later, it served as a public bath, and evidence from the 5th century suggests it was even used as a furnace to produce glass. 

LAURA VENDITTELLI 
Director, Cripta Balbi Museum 
"A key moment during the Middle Ages is when the houses of merchants began to be built alongside this area. The merchants were beginning to stand out in society at the time, and we found paintings and decorations in their ancient houses. Another key moment is when during the 15th century this place became a foster home for youths during the Counter-Reformation.” 

The restoration work, which has been led by Rome's Archaeological Heritage department, is still underway. By the end of the year, the project's curators hope to allow tourists to visit an entirely new, never-seen-before section of the site. 


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