The grand palace named Domus Aurea or "Golden House" built by the Roman emperor Nero nearly 2000 years has kept a secret underground which was revealed during a recent excavation. In 2019, an archaeological team while working on the restorations found a secret chamber. It is a large underground room decorated with pictures depicting both real and mythical creatures.
The red and ochre hues left the evidence of gilding. Archaeologists noticed centaurs dance across the walls with depictions of the goat-legged Pan god, who is known as the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds, rustic music and impromptus and companion of the nymphs.
The archaeological findings
The wall painting also includes Birds and aquatic creatures like hippocampi, which is a mythological creature shared by Phoenician, Etruscan, Pictish, Roman and Greek mythology. The researchers also found the depiction of a warrior armed with bow, shield and sword fighting against a panther. All these characters are found framed by plant elements and arabesque figures.
There is a creature "silent and solitary sphinx" which is depicted on a sacred stone, Baetylus and because of that, the chamber was named as Sphinx Room. This room was discovered by accident as part of the ongoing restoration of the palace while working on the adjoining room in the section on the Oppian Hill.
The ancient palace
The ancient palace commonly known as the Domus Aurea is believed to have been built after the Great Fire of Rome in July 64 AD that began in the merchant shops around Rome's chariot stadium, Circus Maximus. As per the researchers the palace had 300 rooms which spread across 300 acres of Rome's hilly landscape.
The Roman Emperor
Emperor Nero was known for his cruelty, he lived an extravagant life and brutally murdered his mother. But his lavish palace was not adored by other emperors ruled after him following his death in 68 AD. It should be noted that the emperor committed suicide after he came to know that he had been condemned to death as a public enemy and he was the first Roman emperor who died this way.
The Sphinx Room
During the discovery of the room, the archaeologists learnt that the light-flooded into an opening in the corner of the room and then the hidden chamber was exposed which has been infilled with dirt and there are no plans to excavate it as if they remove one material the room could have collapsed. But the room still holds valuable details on the life of Nero.
It should be noted that Alfonsina Russo, Parco archeologico del Colosseo director said in a statement, which can be translated to "In the darkness for almost twenty centuries, the Sphinx Room ... tells us about the atmosphere from the years of the principality of Nero."