A golden glass artifact depicting a personification of Rome was found during excavation work on the city’s Metro C subway line last week. It is the only representation of its kind on golden glass that has been found to date.
The figure shown on the glass is depicted in profile, wearing a helmet and military gear and holding a spear—a well-known form of representation among ancient Romans.
“Golden glass is already a very rare finding, but this has no comparison,” Simona Morretta, an archaeologist from the special superintendency of Rome, told the Italian news agency Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata.
“No golden glass with the personification of the city of Rome had ever been found before,” she continued, adding that its execution is “extraordinarily refined.”
The glass would have originally been placed at the bottom of a cup so that the person using it could look at it while drinking. It likely would have been a gift.
“It was a precious object,” Moretta explained, “and it wasn’t thrown away after it broke or got damaged. But given that a glass cup could not be repaired, the bottom was ‘cut off’ and perhaps it was exhibited on furniture or hung on a wall.”
During the excavation, a military facility that was abandoned in the middle of the 3rd century was found. After it was abandoned, the walls were cut, and debris and earth were used to raze the structure. Experts believe, however, that the golden glass did not come from the facility and that it dates to the start of the 4th century.
The golden glass will go on display at the Porta Metronia station museum, which is set to open in 2024.