A 900-seat arts center, where 2nd-century rhetoricians, lawyers, and writers were believed to have recited their works under a 13-meter-high arched ceiling, was discovered just 18 feet below the busy Piazza Venezia in Italy.
According to sources, city workers digging for Rome’s third underground metro line stumbled on the ruins. Italian archaeologists in Rome were said to have described the discovery of as “the biggest find in Rome since the Forum was uncovered in the 1920s.”
For the past five years, archaeologists have been excavating two halls of the Hadrian-era structure, which are believed to accompany a third, previously-known hall that had served as an ingot and coin mint during Byzantine times and a hospital cellar from the 16th to 19th centuries.
Archaeologists also discovered that a ninth-century earthquake caused a large part of the structure’s roof to collapse. Despite its somewhat compromised condition, the arts center has been recognized as a major discovery, and original subway plans have been redirected. Moreover, the site is expected to be accessible to visitors in three years.