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Rome's imperial insignia on show

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Leonardo View Drop Down

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    Posted: 26-Feb-2007 at 12:44
Rome's imperial insignia on show
Sceptre of Maxentius only one ever found
ROME (ANSA) - The only Roman emperor's insignia ever found went on show for the first time in the Italian capital on Saturday.

An imperial sceptre with a carved flower and a globe and a number of glass spheres, thought to be a symbolic representation of the earth, are the focus of the most exciting spring show at the National Roman Museum just outside Termini Station. The artefacts are believed to have belonged to Rome's last pre-Christian emperor, Maxentius.

The emperor, whose historic defeat by Constantine in 312 AD paved the way for Christianity to become Rome's official religion, hid the sceptre on the eve of the battle, archaeologists believe.

It was recently unearthed at the foot of Rome's Palatine Hill along with remarkably well-preserved lances and other objects believed to be the base for the emperor's standards.

The items were found buried inside wooden boxes, wrapped in linen and silk, at what appeared to be a shrine. The depth of the burial allowed experts to date them to the early 4th century AD.

"These artefacts clearly belonged to the emperor, especially the sceptre," said Clementina Panella, the archaeologist who made the discovery.

"It's very elaborate - not an item you would let someone else go around with," she added. "As far as we know, there are no similar findings," said Rome Archeological Superintendent Angelo Bottini.

"Similar representations have only been seen on coins and paintings".

"We've never seen them for real," he said. Excavations on the Palatine in recent decades have turned up wonders such as a sprawling complex believed to be the house of Rome's first emperor, Augustus.

Most of the house will be opened to the public for the first time later this year, officials said recently.
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