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Pantheon, Rome
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This sinkhole near Rome’s Pantheon has revealed an ancient pavement from 25 BC

The ancient slabs were found near the world-famous Roman temple in Italy’s capital

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

According to scientists, humankind being on lockdown officially made the surface of the earth move less. But that doesn’t appear to have been the case in Rome, Italy. A huge sinkhole opened up in the middle of the city last month while Rome’s residents were staying indoors and the popular area, usually teeming with tourists, was deserted. 

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The hole, which, according to local media, measures in at around 10 sq ft and is eight feet deep, appeared in late April in Piazza della Rotonda, just outside of Rome’s Pantheon, an iconic Roman temple that is now used as a Catholic church. 

Since lockdown rules have begun to ease in the country, archaeologists have managed to get a look at the sinkhole and discovered that the chasm has revealed sections of ancient Roman pavement, thought to date from 27-25 BC. Beneath the modern day cobblestones, they found seven slabs of rock, part of the original paving laid when the Pantheon was built.

Sinkholes aren’t all that uncommon in Rome. The Local Italy called it ‘the latest of many chasms suddenly appearing in the centre of the Italian capital over the years’, adding that it’s thought the problem is down to the city being built with ancient materials and sat on ‘soft, sandy soil’, often with ‘man-made tunnels, quarries, or catacombs’ hidden beneath the surface. 

Sinkholes can be pretty dangerous, but there is an upside when they reveal a little piece of ancient history like this one did. 

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