The archaeological area of the Tomb of the Scipios is located along the urban stretch of the ancient Via Appia, within the Aurelian Walls, before the city gate, Porta S. Sebastiano. It is an extraordinarily interesting monument since many of the members of one of the most illustrious of Rome’s families were buried here, among whom Scipio Africanus (the victor over Hannibal) and Scipio Aemilianus (who destroyed Carthage).
Although the first references to findings date back to 1614, discovery in the true sense can be dated to 1780, when two priest brothers of the Sassi family, who owned the vineyard above the tomb, discovered an entrance while doing extension work on a cellar. Although, at that time, all engraved and figurative works were transferred to the Vatican Museums, the tomb became a stable attraction for the many scholars, and others, who came to Rome during their Grand Tour.
The construction of this archaeological area took place in the vicinity of the Via Appia, the road inaugurated in 312 BC for the purpose of facilitating and sustaining Rome’s domination over Southern Italy. It is fitting, given the history of the Scipios (as one of the families most open to Hellenistic cultural influences), that they should decide to place their tomb near the new Consular road – a road embodying the political idea of expansion toward the world of Greater Greece, or Magna Graecia.
The plan of the structure is quadrangular. The work featured a monumental entrance (which has since practically entirely disappeared). Inside, six galleries were dug into the tufa, and the sarcophagi were arranged along the walls or in niches. The sarcophagi all include inscriptions regarding the personages and their deeds. The first Scipio to be buried here was the family’s founder, Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus, who was a consul in 298 BC. His original sarcophagus is at the Vatican Museums.
Open to organized groups (max 12 people) by reservation only.
Groups and schools: tel. 0039 060608 (daily from 9.00 to 19.00)
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