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Vaulted, Painted Room Discovered at Nero’s Palace

Friday, May 10, 2019

ROME, ITALY—ANSA reports that a rectangular room decorated with paintings of panthers, centaurs, and a sphinx has been discovered at the Domus Aurea, or Golden House, the emperor Nero’s 150-room palace on Rome’s Palatine Hill. Alessandro D’Alessio, an official in charge of the Domus Aurea, said conservators found the room while restoring a neighboring one. “We came across a large opening positioned in the northern corner of the covering of the room,” he said. “Lit up by the artificial light, there suddenly appeared the entire barrel vault of a completely frescoed adjacent room.” The images include the god Pan; a man with a sword, quiver, and shield fighting a panther; stylized aquatic creatures; garlands; branches with green, yellow, and red leaves; birds; flowers; fruit; and a small sphinx standing on a pedestal. The figures are shown on a white background with red and golden yellow borders. Based on the style of the paintings, scholars think the room was decorated between A.D. 65 and 68. The palace was eventually buried under the orders of Emperor Trajan, who built a bath over the palace complex in the early second century A.D. D’Alessio said the room will remain filled with earth in order to help stabilize the palace complex. To read in-depth about archaeological investigations of the Domus Aurea, go to “Golden House of an Emperor.”

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