The Italian Almanac

emperor Nero

The Rotating Room

Italian archaeologists believe they have uncovered a rotating dining room mentioned in ancient descriptions of Roman Emperor Nero`s Golden House. Excavations in the `Domus Aurea` on the Palatine Hill have revealed remains of a wooden platform experts think is the one described by the ancient historian Suetonius in his Lives of the Caesars. The platform rotated day and night to follow the movement of the Earth and was one of the many attractions of Nero`s fabulous palace.

``This discovery has no equal among Ancient Roman architectural finds,`` said dig leader Francoise Villedieu. The superintendent of work on the Palatine, Maria Antonietta Tomei, is overseeing extensive work on the hill that houses the villas of Ancient Rome`s great, carried out under the architect Antonella Tomasello. Recent work has shown that the Domus Aurea is even bigger than previously thought, they said, and takes up a huge chunk of the Palatine as well as spilling over onto the Oppian Hill across from the Colosseum.

The only part of the immense structure currently accessible are a series of underground halls on the Oppian. The Domus was demolished by Nero`s successors, the Flavian emperors who built the Colosseum, who also pulled down a huge golden statue of Nero (a `colossus`) that gave the Flavian Amphitheater its popular name.