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Roman Europe

Rome's Ancient Gardens

Edited from BBC News, 17 May 2007

 

 

Archaeologists have discovered a series of mosaics they believe formed part of ancient pleasure gardens built in Rome in the first century BC.

The mosaics, in turquoise, gold and bright blue tones, were found nine metres (30ft) beneath street level.

Scholars say the images, which include Cupid riding a dolphin, probably lined a large nymphaeum (grotto).

The fabled gardens became a model for other gardens in the city. They were created by retired Roman general Lucullus, who had conducted a campaign in 69 BC against Armenia. When followed up by Pompey's campaign two years later this served to make the kingdom in Eastern Anatolia tributary to Rome.

The mosaics were uncovered during efforts to modernise a building housing the Max Planck Institute - a German art history society - close to Rome's famous Spanish steps.

"The architecture of the ancient Roman gardens appeared before our eyes. It seems like a dream," Maria Antonietta Tomei, of the Rome Superintendency for Archaeology, was quoted by the UK's Times newspaper as saying.

The Gardens of Lucullus, built around a villa, were one of the first attempts in the West to discipline nature through landscape gardening.

General Lucullus' lost Roman gardens

One of the mosaics depicts Cupid riding a dolphin

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