His­toric part of An­cient Rome has been re­stored

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ix years of ex­ca­va­tions have given Rome a new tourist at­trac­tion in Cir­cus Max­imus, the sprawl­ing val­ley where chariot races once de­lighted the an­cient city’s denizens. The ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ruin has long been a vast muddy, grassy field, lately used largely by dog walk­ers and jog­gers.

But as of last week­end, the pub­lic are now able to see an­cient la­trines, chunks of what was once a tri­umphal arch hon­our­ing the Em­peror Ti­tus and learn about a win­ning horse dubbed Nu­mi­tor, which ran on the oval track some 2,000 years ago.

Rome’s new­est tourist site comes as a coun­ter­point to Italy’s often dis­cour­ag­ing cul­tural de­vel­op­ments, like the ero­sion by pol­lu­tion or the crum­bling of parts of mon­u­ments that can’t be ad­e­quately pro­tected by Italy’s chron­i­cally lean bud­get for its enor­mous cat­a­logue of his­tor­i­cal and artis­tic her­itage.

For decades, Cir­cus Max­imus was lit­tered with sy­ringes from drug users who used to shoot up there at night. The ex­panse also hosted po­lit­i­cal ral­lies and mega-con­certs, such as those for The Rolling Stones and Bruce Spring­steen.

Claudio Parisi Pres­icce, Rome’s top of­fi­cial for ar­chae­ol­ogy and other mon­u­ments, said Nu­mi­tor the horse will be­come the logo for Cir­cus Max­imus, which sits in a val­ley between the an­cient Pala­tine and Aven­tine Hills.

Dec­o­rat­ing the bot­tom of an ex­ca­vated glass gob­let – the only frag­ment found of the ves­sel – is the gold fig­ure of a proudly pranc­ing horse, with a palm branch sym­bol­is­ing vic­tory in its mouth and the name Nu­mi­tor em­bla­zoned be­low. Ar­chae­ol­o­gist Mar­i­ale­tizia Buon­figlio said the im­age is the only doc­u­men­ta­tion found so far of the horses in­volved in the an­cient en­ter­tain­ment that cap­ti­vated bet­tors. The gob­let’s pre­cious frag­ment, along with some of the 1,000 bronze coins that were dug up, will even­tu­ally find a home in a mu­seum.

Ex­ca­vated ar­eas in­clude the out­side up­per tiers, where the rank-and-file en­ter­tain­ment­go­ers once cheered wild an­i­mal hunts or char­i­o­teers, whip­ping around a low stone wall that ran down the cen­tre of the oval track.

Also vis­i­ble is a la­trine once used by spec­ta­tors. An ex­plana­tory panel, in Ital­ian and English, tells how urine was col­lected via pipes in an­cient Ro­man times to be used to laun­der cloth.

The ex­ca­va­tion helped ar­chae­ol­o­gists un­der­stand the var­i­ous re­con­struc­tions that the Cir­cus Max­imus un­der­went, in­clud­ing one af­ter its wooden tim­bers helped feed the great fire in Rome dur­ing Nero’s reign in 64 AD

Rome isn’t the only Ital­ian city with an­cient roots boast­ing of new ar­chae­o­log­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties for tourists.

At Pom­peii, near Naples, of­fi­cials on Wed­nes­day in­au­gu­rated a 60-room res­i­den­tial com­plex that had been buried by Mount Ve­su­vius’ erup­tion in 79AD.

WIN­NER: A Ro­man icon of the horse Nu­mi­tor

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