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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Rome's ancient gardens revealed
One of the mosaics depicts Cupid riding a dolphin

Archaeologists have discovered a series of mosaics they believe formed part of ancient pleasure gardens built in Rome in the 1st Century BC.

The mosaics, in turquoise, gold and bright blue tones, were found nine metres (30ft) beneath street level.

Scholars say the images, which include Cupid riding a dolphin, probably lined a large nymphaeum (grotto).

The fabled gardens, created by retired Roman general Lucullus, became a model for other gardens in the city.

The mosaics were uncovered during efforts to modernise a building housing the Max Planck Institute - a German art history society - close to Rome's famous Spanish steps.

"The architecture of the ancient Roman gardens appeared before our eyes. It seems like a dream," Maria Antonietta Tomei, of the Rome Superintendency for Archaeology, was quoted by the UK's Times newspaper as saying.

The Gardens of Lucullus, built around a villa, were one of the first attempts in the West to discipline nature through landscape gardening.




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