Archaeologists in Rome have discovered the foundations of a second triumphal arch of Roman Emperor Titus, which was thought to be lost to history, the Telegraph reports. The arch once stood at the entrance to ancient Rome’s chariot-racing stadium, the Circus Maximus.
A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus was emperor of Rome from 79 to 81 A.D. Even though he responded quickly with aid when Vesuvius erupted barely two months into his reign in 79 and is credited with completing the Colosseum in 80, it is the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and his victory against the Jews in 70 when he was just a general that has made Titus one of the more well-known figures in Roman history.
Scenes of Titus’s victory in Judaea—culminating with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem—decorate the world-famous monumental Arch of Titus that stands on the Via Sacra in the Roman Forum. A major tourist attraction, this triumphal arch commemorates Titus’s conquest of Judaea and contains a well-known relief showing Roman soldiers carrying spoils from the Temple, including the menorah, the showbread table and trumpets (see image below).
The newly discovered second triumphal arch, erected in 81 A.D. immediately after Titus’s death, once stood 49 feet high and 56 feet wide. The existence of the arch has been known since the Medieval period through historical accounts, but the remains of the arch have only come to light recently. Archaeologists excavating at the eastern end of the Circus Maximus unearthed more than 300 marble fragments belonging to this second triumphal arch of Titus.
Archaeologists hope to reconstruct the arch, but it will not be an easy feat. Cultural heritage official Claudio Parisi Presicce explained in an interview with the Telegraph that reconstruction cannot commence until enough money can be raised and a system of tunnels to block flooding at the site can be constructed.
Estelle Reed is an intern at the Biblical Archaeology Society.
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