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2,200-year-old Roman Map Fragment Found

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March 8, 2016

A very old, very large, unsolved jigsaw puzzle now has another identified piece.

The fragment of a 2,200-year-old map of Rome, known as Forma Urbis Romae, is now together with other fragments in the Capitoline Museum. Archaeologists and historians have long puzzled over just what the map showed originally and just what happened to the pieces yet to be found. Some historians think that the map, at one time, was a detailed map of the city of Rome.

Stonecutters carved the map into 150 marble slabs that made up a wall that measured 60 feet by 43 feet. The eight-year project finished in A.D. 211.

Archaeologists don’t know when the first cracks appeared in the wall map. Like many other artifacts of ancient Rome, subsequent generations built right on top of existing structures or repurposed things like marble to build anew.

The new fragment, discovered in 2014, has an inscription that, together with another fragment, makes the words “Circus Flaminius.” Archaeologists say that the fragment was likely repurposed as part of a palace.

Archaeologists made the first rediscovery of fragments of this large marble map in 1562. Since that time, other teams have discovered 1,200 more fragments. Today, however, archaeologists estimate that they have only 10 percent of the original total.

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