Fresco Fragments Discovered at Roman Temple Site

News August 24, 2022

(Courtesy Marco Giglio)
Italy Red Plaster
(Courtesy Marco Giglio)

CUPRA MARITTIMA, ITALY—CNN reports that excavators working at the site of a Roman temple located near eastern Italy’s Adriatic coastline have recovered about 100 rare fragments of 2,000-year-old frescoes. Pieces of sky-blue plaster are thought to have covered the temple’s ceiling, while the walls are thought to have been decorated with red, black, and yellow squares separated by images of garlands and candelabra separated by horizontal bands of green. The rare pieces are thought to have survived because the Roman emperor Hadrian (r. A.D. 117–138) overhauled the structure in A.D. 127, including having the painted surfaces chiseled off the walls and then covered in marble to strengthen them. The plaster was then used as a base for new floors, explained Marco Giglio of the University of Naples L’Orientale. Hadrian also added columns with capitals, lion-headed roof dripstones, and two brick arches to the temple. But the marble was reused in other buildings in the seventh century, and in the nineteenth century, the surviving structure was incorporated into a house that still stands at the site. “We’re still trying to figure out whether it is best to restore it or take it down to recover the shrine in its entirety,” Giglio said. To read about a luxurious dining room unearthed at Hadrian's villa outside Rome, go to "Around the World: Italy."

MORE TO DISCOVER

Letter from Nigeria

July/August 2024

A West African Kingdom's Roots

Excavations in Benin City reveal a renowned realm’s deep history

Artifacts July/August 2024

Etruscan Oil Lamp

Read Article
Etruscan Hanging Oil Lamp
(Courtesy Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Città di Cortona; © DeA Picture Library/Art Resource, NY)

Around the World July/August 2024

TONGA

Read Article
(Phillip Parton/ANU)

Digs & Discoveries July/August 2024

Bronze Age Beads Go Abroad

Read Article

Features July/August 2024

The Assyrian Renaissance

Archaeologists return to Nineveh in northern Iraq, one of the ancient world’s grandest imperial capitals

Read Article
(Land of Nineveh Archaeological Project)