Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Rome’s Oldest Temple

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SantOmobono Rome-Oldest ChurchROME, ITALY—Excavations at the site of Sant’Omobono, a medieval church, have uncovered what may be Rome’s oldest known temple, dating to the seventh century B.C. It had been built on the banks of the Tiber River, near a bend that acted as a natural harbor. “At this point Rome is trading already as far afield as Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt. So they build this temple, which is going to be one of the first things the traders see when they pull into the harbor of Rome,” said Nic Terrenato of the University of Michigan. The traders left behind offerings that were probably dedicated to the goddess Fortuna. The temple’s foundation was discovered below seven feet of water held back with metal sheets. The team of archaeologists could also see in the trench how the original path of the river had been diverted as the Romans added leveled hills and filled in lowlands to make the city flatter and drier.