Image: Archaeologist extracts urn
Giulio Napolitano  /  AFP - Getty Images file
An archaeologist hands up a funeral urn from a tomb discovered beneath the Roman Forum on Thursday. The urn containe ashes and several relics from the 11th century B.C. — a time before the legendary founding of Rome.
updated 1/20/2006 1:15:04 PM ET 2006-01-20T18:15:04

Archaeologists digging beneath the Roman Forum have discovered a 3,000-year-old tomb that predates the birth of ancient Rome by several hundred years.

State TV Thursday night showed an excavation team removing vases from the tomb, which resembled a deep well.

Archaeologists were excavating under the level of the ancient forum, a popular tourist site, when they dug up the tomb, which they suspect is part of an entire necropolis, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

"I am convinced that the excavations will bring more tombs to light," ANSA quoted Rome's archaeology commissioner, Eugenio La Rocca, as saying.

Also found inside the tomb was a funerary urn, ANSA said.

State TV quoted experts as saying the tomb appeared to date to about 1,000 B.C., meaning the people who constructed the necropolis predated the ancient Romans by hundreds of years.

Legend has it that Rome was founded in 753 B.C. by Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of the god of war, Mars.

Last year, archaeologists who have been digging for some two decades in the forum said they believed they found evidence of a royal palace roughly dating to the period of the legendary founding.

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