They were digging the foundations of a new multi-storey car park under
But what the bulldozers uncovered was an ancient world of the dead - a
Roman necropolis, or burial site, dating back to the time of Christ.
Since then the excavations have brought to light more than 200 tombs,
arranged on multiple levels and in remarkable condition.
In addition to funerary inscriptions they have uncovered a wide
assortment of statues, vases, terracotta urns, coins and skeletons.
The burial site paints a complex picture of life and death in ancient
Rome and for the first time gives archaeologists a valuable insight into
the life of lower- and middle-class Romans.
Some of them were simple artisans, buried with clues to their trade.
In the tomb of a set designer for Pompey's theatre, there are the
symbols of a compass and a T-square.
There are the tombs of a letter carrier, a circus horse trainer and a
slave who was freed and later rose to a respected position in the
household staff of the Emperor Nero.