New archeological finds in Rome

The Excavation of the Palatine Continues 

Some describe Roma as a plate of archaeological lasagna (un piatto di lasagne archeologiche), made of layers upon layers of history (strati su strati di storia). Clementina Panella, a professor of archaeology at the Università di Roma “La Sapienza,” views it as a great book of human history (un grande libro di storia dell’umanità). After thirty years of excavations, her team is uncovering the first pages (le prime pagine) of this remarkable story.

The oldest traces (le tracce più antiche) date back to simple huts built in the tenth to fourteenth centuries B.C. (A.C. for Palatine digAvanti Cristo, before Christ, in Italian). Panella’s dig has centered on the swath of land between the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, the very heart of ancient Rome.

This “importantissima” zone, never before explored, has yielded discovery after discovery (scoperta dopo scoperta). The most significant is the Curiae Veteres, a vast religious sanctuary where Romulus gathered representatives from Rome’s districts (curiae) to worship and eat together (mangiare insieme). As animal bones (ossa animali) testify, meat was definitely on the menu.

For Panella, another exciting discovery was the Meda Sudans, a monumental fountain (fontana) built by Augustus, Rome’s first emperor. Nearby the archaeologists found a luxuriously decorated domus or residence believed to be the place where Augustus was born in 63 B.C. His wife Livia converted it into a temple after his death in 14 A.D. (D.C. for Dopo Cristo, after Christ, in Italian).

Fig. 9 wands

Among the intriguing findings, tucked inside a collapsed wooden box, were these insignia— scepters not unlike those of a Harry Potter wizard, topped by gleaming glass globes, as well as spears (scettri) and lances (lance) for bearing flags — from the 4th century A.D. “We believe they belonged to Emperor Maxentius and were hidden after he was killed by Constantine in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D.,” says Panella.

Especially touching—and unexpected—was an urn from the fifth century B.C., buried in shallow ground under a protective overhang. Inside, wrapped in a covering Urn of sorts, were the remains of a baby who may have died at or shortly after birth. Panella describes the revelation as “molto impressionante” (very startling), a poignant reminder of the timeless sorrow of a child’s loss.

The city’s version of urban recycling has often been a challenge. “Roma si mangia,” Panella says. (Rome eats itself.) From the earliest days, builders took stones, metals, glass and decorations from existing structures to construct new buildings. As Panella’s team discovered, some used statuary, such as a marble bust of Emperor Septimius Severus, who died in 211 A.D., as “filler” for the foundations of new edifices.

Working among the glories of ancient Rome has been “un gran privilegio” (a great privilege),” says Panella. “I lift my head, and I see the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, the temple of Venus.” Most rewarding has been the thrill of discovery, “of finding something that has never been seen before, trying to interpret it in light of what we already know, and adding another element to an extraordinary story.”

Article thanks to “Becoming Italian Word by Word”.


Napulitano di più!

Our posting two weeks ago of Funiculì Funiculà caused a reader to request translation of a song that was based on a poem written in Napolitano by D’Annunzio.  Here it is in Napolitano dialect and in Italiano Standard:

‘A Vucchella

Si’ comm’a nu sciurillo,
tu tiene na vucchella,
nu poco pucurillo, appassuliatella
Méh, dammillo, dammillo,
è comm’a na rusella. Dammillo nu vasillo, dammillo, Cannetella.
Dammillo e pigliatillo
nu vaso; piccerillo
comm’a chesta vucchella che pare na rusella
nu poco pucurillo appassuliatella…
Sei come un fiorellino,
hai una boccuccia
un po’ pochino,
Dai, dammelo, dammelo,
è come una rosellina. dammelo un bacino dammelo, Candida.
Dammelo e prendilo
un bacio; piccolino
come questa boccuccia
che sembra una rosellina.
un po’ pochino