Lost tomb of 'Gladiator' real life Roman inspiration found

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Via Flaminia, where the tomb was discovered. A park is planned in the area, with the tomb as its centerpiece.

The long-lost tomb of Marcus Nonius Macrinus, the inspiration of the character Maximus Decimus Meridius in Ridley Scott's popular film 'Gladiator', was discovered off the ancient Via Flaminia road in Rome this Thursday.

Pieces of the tomb first began to emerge from the ground during construction for a residential complex along the Tiber River's banks.

The archaeological finding was "the most important ancient Roman monument to come to light for 20 or 30 years", said Daniela Rossi, who was a top member of the effort in finding the tomb. The Superintendent of Archaeology in Rome, Angelo Bottini, described the tomb as "a monument of great beauty".

Cristiano Ranieri led the effort along with other archaeologists, who are still working hard to fully uncover the site. The team hopes to find the sarcophagus of the ancient hero among the sprawling tomb.

Marble columns fifteen meters wide, inscriptions, decorations, writings and other priceless treasures have been preserved thanks to an ancient flood from the Tiber River.

The massive tomb details the life of the ancient gladiator through ten inscriptions, whose history differed greatly from the movie's version. The two had only shared being close friends and generals of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. The historical version of the character had lived on to become wealthy and famous, while the character played by Russell Crowe had a tragic ending.

Plans are underway to turn the area into the Via Flaminia Archaeological Park, with the tomb as the central attraction.

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