The archaeological site at Antica Lavinium, an ancient city in the coastal village of Pratica di Mare south of Rome and located inside a farm owned by Borghese princes, opened to the public for the first time January 7th. Notable monuments at the site include 13 sacrificial altars, the Heroon of Aeneas, a ceremonial building and two kilns, all of which date back to the ancient city’s golden age in the 6th century BC or earlier.
The heroon (a shrine to a hero) is a burial mound from the 7th century BC that honors Aeneas, a mythological Trojan hero who was the son of the goddess Venus and the prince Anchises. It is said that Aeneas founded Lavinium after fleeing Troy and marrying Lavinia, the daughter of a local king. The heroon is 18 meters in diameter and contained more than 60 important items, including vases, weapons, and objects made of iron, bronze, and silver. The 13 altars are made of tufa and were once painted red.
“[The 13 altars] form an archaic sanctuary that brings visitors back into the atmosphere and religious practices of a remote age shortly after the founding of Rome,” said Superintendent Alfonsina Russo. “Recent excavations have revealed a fourteenth altar, which is now restored and included in the new visitor’s route.”
Antica Lavinium was discovered in 1955 by Roman topographer Ferdinando Castagnoli, then-director of the University of La Sapienza’s Institute of Topography, and Roman archaeologist Lucos Cozza. It has been under excavation ever since.
The Archaeological Museum of Lavinium on the site opened in 2005 and contains objects from between the 10th century BC and the Roman age, including black vases and the cup of Castor from ancient Greece, terra cotta statues, and items found in what ancient Romans believed to be the tomb of Aeneas. Museum hours: Monday* to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. *on Mondays, by appointment only. Museum admission: 5€ For more information, call 39 06 91984744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com