By Nick Pisa
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed the tomb of the Roman warrior who inspired the title role in Ridley Scott's epic Oscar-winning film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe.Marble columns and a Latin inscription to Marcus Nonius Macrinus have been uncovered at a 1,800-year-old stone mausoleum built in his honour on the banks of the River Tiber at Saxa Rubra, not far from the headquarters of Rai, Italy's state-run television station.The site, which also includes friezes and stone blocks, was discovered as a warehouse was being demolished to make way for a housing development.The remains are located north of Rome, near the ancient road, the Via Flaminia, which once connected the city to the Adriatic, on Italy's east coast.
Although parts of the tomb have crumbled into the Tiber over the centuries, enough has been recovered during months of excavation that experts are discussing the possibility of rebuilding the tomb as the centrepiece of an archaeological theme park. This would also include the house of Empress Livia, the wife of Emperor Augustus, at Prima Porta nearby.
This villa occupied the high ground dominating the view down the Tiber valley to Rome and some of the walling that retained its terraces can still be seen. Except for the terracing – the gardens are currently being excavated – all that can be seen today are three vaulted subterranean rooms, from the largest of which the fresco decor of an illusionistic garden view was removed to Rome, where it has recently been installed in the Palazzo Massimo, following cleaning and restoration. Marcus Nonius Macrinus was from the northern Italian city of Brescia.He was consul in AD154 and proconsul of Asia from AD170 to 171. Consuls were the highest civil and military magistrates in ancient Rome.
His villa on the shores of Lake Garda is also under excavation. Macrinus was said to have been a particular favourite of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who ruled Rome between AD161 and 180, and became part of the emperor's inner circle after he won numerous battles for him.
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