Nero’s Golden House: New Room Exposed in the Domus Aurea

Archaeology news


A ceiling fresco in Nero’s Golden House. Photo: Robin Ngo.

“Of its dimensions and furniture, it may be sufficient to say this much: the porch was so high that there stood in it a colossal statue of himself a hundred and twenty feet in height; and the space included in it was so ample, that it had triple porticos a mile in length, and a lake like a sea, surrounded with buildings which had the appearance of a city.”
Suetonius, Nero 31.1

Following the fire that ravaged Rome in 64 C.E.—during which Nero was rumored to have fiddled—the Roman emperor erected his extravagant Domus Aurea, or Golden House, in the center of the city.

Covering about 125 acres over parts of the Palatine, Esquiline, and Caelian hills, Nero’s estate included a palace, lavish gardens, and an artificial lake. The palace itself was designed with cutting-edge vaulted concrete construction and decorated with gold, marble, Pompeian-style wall paintings, and other sumptuous architectural features.

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Only portions of Nero’s Golden House have survived nearly two millennia of history—including a newly discovered palace room decorated with wall paintings depicting panthers, centaurs, and a sphinx. Archaeologists found the room during restoration work on an adjacent area of the palace.


The so-called Sphinx Room recently found in Nero’s Golden House in Rome. Photo: © ANSA.

“It is the fruit of our strategy that focuses on conservation and scientific research,” Alfonsina Russo, the director of the Colosseum archaeological park, told the Italian news agency ANSA.

The archaeologists report that not much more of the room can be exposed in order to preserve the stability of the structure; Roman emperor Trajan had later incorporated Nero’s Golden House into his bath complex.

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

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