23 February 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Gold glass ‘Roma’ unearthed in the excavations of the Rome subway

A very rare and refined piece of gold glass representing ‘Roma’, the woman symbol of the Eternal City, has been discovered during the construction of Rome’s Metro C metro line.

It is the first time that any representation of Roma in gold glass has ever been found, according to archaeologist Simona Morretta of Rome’s special superintendency.

Describing it as “extraordinarily refined”, Morretta told news agency ANSA: “Golden glass is already a very rare find, but this has no comparison”.

Originally the base of a drinking glass, the discovery features an image of the female deity – the personification of the city of Rome – wearing a helmet and carrying a spear.

“The thousand-year history of our city never ceases to amaze and enchant the world,” the mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri, wrote in a tweet.

The recently found personification of the Eternal City has no writing on it. She is dressed in an Amazonian-inspired outfit, has a diadem on her forehead, and a helmet with a plumed crest. Over her chest, she carries a spear. The curls in her hair and the scrollwork on the helmet are both beautifully crafted details.

Gold glass is a high-end glass that has a decorative design in gold leaf fused between two layers of glass. The majority of surviving Roman examples are drinking glass bottoms that have been cut off.

Morretta said the precious artifact did not belong to the military barracks found during the subway works – which was abandoned in the middle of the third century and subsequently razed to the ground – with preliminary studies suggesting the glass is from the start of the fourth century.

The gold glass artifact will go on display in a new subway station museum that will include an in situ exhibition of the barracks.

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