Tuesday 21 November 2017

Father and son unearth home of Roman water gods

Nick Squires in Rome

A PAIR of amateur archaeologists from Britain believe that they have found the hidden source of a Roman aqueduct, 1,900 years after it was inaugurated by the emperor Trajan.

The underground spring lies beneath an abandoned 13th-century church on the shores of Lake Bracciano, 35 miles north of Rome.

Exploration of the site has shown that water percolating through volcanic bedrock was collected in underground grottoes and fed into a subterranean aqueduct, the Aqua Traiana, which then took it to Rome. The underground complex, which is entangled with the roots of huge fig trees, was discovered by a father and son, Edward and Michael O'Neill, who make documentaries.

They stumbled on it while researching the history of Rome's ancient aqueducts. A leading authority on Roman hydro-engineering, Professor Lorenzo Quilici from Bologna University, confirmed that the structure was Roman.

The vaulted ceiling was decorated with a rare type of paint known as Egyptian Blue, which led the O'Neills to speculate that the grotto was a Roman nymphaeum -- a sacred place believed to be inhabited by water gods. "The paint was very expensive to make, but it was painted all over the walls, which suggests an imperial link," said Edward O'Neill.

The documentary makers now hope to raise funds in order to pay for the site to be more fully excavated by professional archaeologists. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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