Archaeology on Ancient Rome’s Palatine Hill


Margarida Bonifacio

On Tuesday October 10th, our Roman Topography class had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Palatine Hill excavations to learn more about archaeology and Roman culture. The excavations are located on the northeastern slope of the Palatine hill, between the arch of Titus and the arch of Constantine. The leader of these excavations is Professoressa Pannella from La Sapienza University. There are a total of 130 people working on the site each season (September-October), both students from La Sapienza University and from other universities, including ones from outside Italy.

The Palatine Hill excavation is 4000 square meters and is La Spienza’s the biggest excavation. The excavation is divided in two parts, one on the slope and one in the Colosseum valley. The excavation of Colosseum valley has been completed. It lasted from 1986 to 2001, and was in the news a lot at the time because the archaeologists excavated the Meta Sudans, a first century AD fountain. The excavations that are currently taking place on the Palatine Hill started in 2001. La Sapienza University plans on continuing this excavation for two more years, and then hopes to publish its findings and results a year after that.



During this excavation, many artifacts were found. The most valuable for the university were pottery pieces which we got to see and were even allowed to hold. These are important since they can be studied in great detail and given a date which then determines what period the layer came from. One of the biggest finds was the Curiae Veteres, a religious temple dating back to Romulus’ time, as well as the remains of Iron Age huts.

On our visit we got to see how the archaeologists worked and what they are currently excavating. In the room that we climbed down a ladder to see, the archaeologists had found a circular structure made of stone with burned remains of food and pottery. In another room, an archaeologist was separating pottery fragments from dirt. In the final room, we saw the excavation of a well that served to store rain water. The archaeologists also found wall remains of many religious temples.


La Sapienza University has been struggling to fund the excavation. Organizations such as the National Communications Bank and LoveItaly! help them raise funds to continue. Hopefully people will help La Sapienza to enable them to continue this wonderful project!