The discovery of the Ara Funeraria along Via Emilia
A roman ara funeraria (burial ground) from the I century B.C. has been found in perfect conservation status near the ancient Via Emilia, in Modena (Italy), during the ongoing excavations for carrying out some underground passages, at a height equal to that of the passage of the Modena-Sassuolo railroad.
The rooftop of the Ara Romana has been discovered at a depth of just over one and a half meters from the plain’s ground level, as the step basement upon which the structure stands is yet to be brought to surface.
From the inscription it appears that the monument was build, still during her life, by a greek liberta, Vetilia Caia Egloge, who wanted it all for herself, for her master Lucius Valerius Costante, decurion of Mutina, and for her son, a liberto who held the Apollinare and Augustale function, a religious role linked to the celebration of imperial power documented also in other landmarks of Modena.
The epigraph is bordered by an elegant vegetal pattern and it’s surrounded by two decorated pulvinos; along the smaller sides of the ara the ritual decorations of a patera (plate) and that of an urceus (jug) stand out, symbols of old religious ceremonies in honor of the dead.
As much as it is remarkable, however, this discovery is all but a surprise. The roman necropolis used to spread along the consular streets and the archaeologists know that any kind of excavation near Via Emilia can interfere with burial places, especially in this particular area of Modena that has already offered in the past other important funeral monuments.
For this reason the neighborhood, placed in an area subject to the commitment of preventive archaeological checks in the PRG of Modena, has been checked since the beginning by the Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage of Emilia-Romagna and the excavation works, under the scientific counseling of Superintendent Luigi Malnati and that of the archaeologist Donato Labate, have been coordinated on the field by Cristina Palazzini, from the “Archeosistemi di Reggio Emilia“ firm.
In the following days the excavation of the monument and of the respective burials will be completed, and as for the final positioning of the monument, the possible destinations will be evaluated. The real estate owner has already requested consent to exhibit a replication of the actual ara funeraria monument in the area of the discovery, like it was made for the monument of centurion Clodio, located nearby.
Photo by Paolo Terzi.
Further photos are available on AI Blog