Source of the Aqua Traiana Found?

A very interesting find by some clumsy amateurs, apparently (when will the media stop having folks ‘stumble’ on things???) … this seems to be hype for a documentary, but that’s not a bad thing. Here’s the incipit of the Telegraph coverage:

The underground spring lies behind a concealed door 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 chambers and fed into a subterranean aqueduct, the Aqua Traiana, which took it all the way to the imperial capital.

Centuries later, it provided water for the very first Vatican, after Rome began to convert to Christianity under the Emperor Constantine.

The underground complex, which is entangled with the roots of huge fig trees, was discovered by father and son documentary makers Edward and Michael O’Neill, who stumbled on it while researching the history of Rome’s ancient aqueducts.

They recruited a leading authority on Roman hydro-engineering, Prof Lorenzo Quilici from Bologna University, who confirmed that the structure was Roman, rather than medieval as had long been believed.

Using long iron ladders to descend into the bowels of the sophisticated system, they found that the bricks comprising the aqueduct’s walls are laid in a diamond shape known as “opus reticulatum” – a distinctive Roman style of engineering.

“A lot of the stone work bears the original Roman tool marks,” Edward O’Neill said.

The underground labyrinth of galleries has remained almost unknown to archaeologists because for hundreds of years it was full of water.

It was only when modern bore pumps started directing the supply to the nearby town of Bracciano that the water level dropped dramatically and the subterranean complex became accessible.

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 Mr O’Neill.

via Two thousand year old Roman aqueduct discovered | Telegraph

The brothers further say they want to raise funds for the site to be professionally excavated. Nice!

More coverage:

On the web (prior to the discovery, of course):

Trajan’s Palace in Romania?

This one appears to be only in English on Xinhua:

Romanian archaeologists has discovered, in southeastern county of Caras-Severin, a complex structure estimated to be 2,000 years old belonging to the Roman culture, local media reported on Thursday. The archaeological discovery has a special importance because it was built very early, probably in the autumn of 101 during the first Dacian-Roman War of 101-102, before the actual Roman conquest of Dacia, the Carpathian-Danube region, modern day Romania. The discovery will bring the village of Zavoi in Caras-Severin County to the attention of history researchers and archaeologists from around the world following the digging up of the ruins of a Roman palace with well-preserved structures, which is expected to offer so far unknown precious information about the Daco-Roman culture, according to the official Agerpres news agency. The archaeological style of the building is unique in Romania, as it fully meets the Roman tradition for towering structures, according to local experts. The Roman vestiges of Zavoi will be recovered, conserved and displayed to their real value with support from the local and central government and is expected to bring about the tourist development of the entire area. The salvaging diggings so far will become systematic, and the entire location will turn into an archaeological site, according to the archaeological team headed by researcher Adrian Ardet of the Caransebes County Museum of Ethnography.

I can’t help but wonder whether we’re seeing some sort of ‘competition’ between archaeologists a la what once prevailed in Bulgaria (and perhaps still does) … last week this same region was in the news for another reason (facial reconstruction of the ‘first European’).