A 1,700-year-old carved marble head of the Emperor Constantine has
been found in a sewer in central Rome.
Archaeologists found the 60cm (2ft) head while clearing an ancient
drainage system in the ruins of the Roman Forum.
Eugenio La Rocca, superintendent of Rome's artefacts, described the
head as a rare find and said it was possible it had been used to clear a
Constantine, who reigned from AD 306 to 337, is known for ending the
persecution of Christians and creating the city of Constantinople from the
Greek town of Byzantium.
Although most of his subjects remained pagans, he is credited with
helping to establish Europe's Christian roots by proclaiming religious
The white marble head was confirmed as a portrait of Constantine by
experts who compared it with coins and two other giant heads kept in
Rome's Capitoline Museums.
Probably carved between AD 312 and 325, when Constantine was at the
height of his power, it may have belonged to a statue of the emperor in
"Recovering a portrait of this size and in this state of conservation
in the very heart of the city is really extraordinary," said Mr La Rocca.
"We have concluded that the head did not fall by accident into the
passage, but was put there on purpose.