Italian Archaeologists Uncover Pomerium Cippus Celebrating Military Victories of Emperor Claudius

The Daily Beast published a news story about the recent discovery of a boundary stone marking the sacred limits of Rome, originally erected in 49 EV. The stone marked an expansion of the city’s limits as part of celebrations in honor of the Emperor Claudius’ expansion of the Roman Empire, notably with the conquest of Britain. The article begins:

Earlier this month a rare almost 2000-year-old border stone from the reign of the Emperor Claudius was unearthed in the city of Rome. The stone, technically known as a pomerium cippus (boundary stone), marked the sacred limits of the Roman Empire’s capital city and dates to 49 A.D., when Claudius expanded the boundary of the city. This wasn’t a simple property marker, it was part of a series of stones that divided the urban civic world of Rome from the military powers that lay outside it. Even more interestingly it is inscribed with now-lost ancient letters invented in the first century. As the first discovery of its kind in almost a century, the discovery created a media firestorm.

While border stones are well known to scholars, this one is noteworthy for being discovered in situ. It was discovered during excavations for a new sewer system underneath the recently renovated Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome’s historic city center. In antiquity the stones marked the pomerium, the sacred boundary that soldiers were forbidden to cross with weapons. At a press conference, Claudio Parisi Presicce, director of the Archaeological Museums of Rome, said that, “The founding act of the city of Rome starts from the realization of this ‘pomerium.’’ The stones, in other words, are part of what founded and defined Rome. The enlargement of the pomerium in 49 A.D. had some practical effects on the city. The 139 border stones laid by Claudius now incorporated the Avertine hill, which previously lay inside of the city walls but outside of the pomerium, with the result of reconstituting Rome as the seven hilled city that we know today.

thanks to Soror Amy for the tip!


Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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