Falerii Novi, the ancient Roman city found through GPR technology

Hyperaxion Jun 13, 2020

A team of archaeologists found Falerii Novi, an ancient city of the Roman Empire, without making any type of excavation at the site.

In an unprecedented feat, researchers at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and the Ghent University, Belgium, resorted to ground penetrating radar (GPR) to find the city that remains buried.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) map of the ancient Roman City as it currently exists underground. (Credit: L. Verdonck).

At the site were found a public bath complex, a market, a temple, a public monument unlike any other, and even the city’s extensive network of water pipes.

The results of the investigation were published last Tuesday in the scientific journal Antiquity and will allow researchers to study how the city has developed over the years. The use of ground penetrating radar to make archaeological discoveries is also a significant milestone, as it can be a great alternative for sites that cannot be excavated for different reasons.

Located 50 kilometers (31 mi) north of Rome, Falerii Novi was about 30.5 hectares – half the size of Pompeii. The city was first occupied in the year 241 BC.

The study also contradicts some assumptions regarding the urban design of Roman cities. Unlike Pompeii, for example, Falerii Novi looked less standardized. Some of the structures found were also more elaborate than one would expect from a small town.

Location of the temple in Falerii Novi. (Credit: L. Verdonck).

“The astonishing level of detail which we have achieved at Falerii Novi, and the surprising features that GPR has revealed, suggest that this type of survey could transform the way archaeologists investigate urban sites, as total entities,” said one of the study’s authors, Martin Millett.

“It is exciting and now realistic to imagine GPR being used to survey a major city such as Miletus in Turkey, Nicopolis in Greece or Cyrene in Libya,” said Millett. “We still have so much to learn about Roman urban life and this technology should open up unprecedented opportunities for decades to come.”

Related topics:

Roman Empire


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