On the Via Appia Antica, a few hundred meters away from the door of San Sebastian, one of the greatest archaeological findings of the Roman Republic is located: the Tomb of the Scipios.
Discovered in 1614, the tomb became a regular destination for scholars and visitors. At the beginning of the third century BC the founder of the illustrious family of the Scipios, Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbato, consul of 298 BC, began the construction of a monumental tomb for his gens. The decision of placing the funeral building not far from the Via Appia pointed to a precise political orientation, the Appian Way was in fact inaugurated in 312 BC with the aim of facilitating and supporting the expansion of the domain of Rome in southern Italy.
The monument, carved into the stone of the same hill, has got an almost square base, with four large pillars that divide it into six galleries that line the four sides and two that meet in the center. barely visible Are the paintings that decorated the base, giving access to the tombs containing the graves. They show three layers, with military scenes barely recognizable in the most ancient, dating from the second century. B.C. and the beginning of the first century., when, as we know from Cicero, the depositions ceased.
The inscriptions appropriately compared with the literary evidence, allow to reconstruct with a certain precision the history of the tomb. It does not go back to the fourth century. a. C., as someone wanted to support, but, particularly in view of the importance of the location of the sarcophagus that belonged to Scipio Barbato, consul of 298, the date of the tomb is to locate at the beginning of the third century. BC, when Scipio Barbato was probably still alive.
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