|A man examined a structure believed to support a rotating dining room used by the Roman emperor Nero. (Domenico Stinellis/Ap)|
ROME - Archeologists yesterday unveiled what they think are the remains of Roman emperor Nero’s extravagant banquet hall, a circular space that rotated day and night to imitate the earth’s movement and impress his guests.
The room, part of Nero’s Golden Palace, a sprawling residence built in the first century A.D., is thought to have been built to entertain government officials and VIPs, said lead archeologist Francoise Villedieu.
The emperor, known for his lavish and depraved lifestyle, ruled from 37 A.D. to 68 A.D.
The dig so far has turned up the foundations of the room, the rotating mechanism underneath, and part of an attached space believed to be the kitchens, she said.
“This cannot be compared to anything that we know of in ancient Roman architecture,’’ Villedieu told reporters during a tour of the cordoned-off dig.
She said the location of the discovery atop the Palatine Hill, the rotating structure, and references to it in ancient biographies of Nero make the attribution to the emperor most likely.
The partially excavated site is part of the sumptuous residence, also known by its Latin name Domus Aurea, which rose over the ruins of a fire that destroyed much of Rome in A.D. 64.
The purported main dining room, with a diameter of more than 50 feet, rested upon a 13-foot-wide pillar and four spherical mechanisms that, probably powered by a constant flow of water, rotated the structure. The discovery was made during routine maintenance of the fragile Palatine area, officials said.
That part of the palace offered a panoramic view over the Roman Forum and a lake.