Because of its long history, Rome has often yielded archaeological treasures in the most unexpected of places. The latest of these riches is an ancient dog statue, which was discovered during work on Rome’s water system just before Christmas.
An arm of the Italian Ministry of Culture devoted to archaeological endeavors announced the find on January 1, saying that the dog statue was found in the city’s Appio Latino district, which is also home to ancient Roman villas and an array of burial structures. Along with the statue, three tombs were also found.
According to the Ministry of Culture, one of the tombs seemed to contain evidence that a fire had taken place there, which may explain why it fell out of use. The tombs were once part of a larger funerary complex built sometime between the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE.
The dog statue, as well as an urn, were found about half a meter below street level, which means that these archaeological objects were essentially right underneath current-day Romans’ feet. Fashioned out of terra cotta, the statue looks a lot like forms that once appeared as part of drainage systems on sloping rooftops. Because this one has no holes in that water could pass through, however, the statue was likely intended just as a cute canine decoration.
In a statement, Daniela Porro, the special superintendent of Rome, said, “Once again Rome shows important traces of the past in all its urban fabric.”