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 III century B.C. the founder of the illustrious Scipioni family, Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbato, consul of 298 BC, began the construction of a monumental tomb for his gens. The choice to place the funeral building at a short distance from the Via Appia indicated a precise political orientation. The Appian Way was inaugurated in 312 B.C. with the aim of facilitating and supporting the expansion of the dominion of Rome in southern Italy.
The monument, dug in the same tuff of the hill, has a nearly square plant. With four large pillars dividing it into six galleries: four flanking the sides and two crossing the center. Still barely visible are the paintings that embellished the basement, from which it was accessed the hypogea containing the tombs. Here we cab see three overlapping layers, with military scenes barely recognizable in the oldest, datable between the second century. BC and the beginning of the first century, when, as we know from Cicero, the deposition ceased.
The inscriptions, appropriately compared with the literary testimonies, allow to reconstruct with a certain precision the history of the tomb. It does not date back to the fourth century. B.C., as someone wanted to believe, but, given above all the importance of the location of the sarcophagus belonging to Scipione Barbato (consul in 98) it is possible to place the date of the tomb at the beginning of the III century. BC, probably when Scipio Barbato was still alive.
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