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'Roman emperor's villa' unearthed

Archaeologists at a villa in Italy believed to be the birthplace of the Emperor Vespasian, 5 August 2009
The villa has floors with marble from across the Mediterranean region

Archaeologists in Italy say they have unearthed the remains of a sumptuous villa thought to be the birthplace of the Emperor Vespasian.

The ruins were found in the Roman city of Falacrine, about 80 miles (130km) north-east of Rome.

The villa's location and luxury suggest it was probably Vespasian's birthplace, an archaeologist said.

Vespasian lived from AD9-79. He was emperor from AD69-79, restoring peace after a period of civil war.

The villa in Falacrine stretches over 14,000 sq m (16,750 sq yards).

The archaeologist leading excavations there, Filippo Coarelli, said it was not marked as belonging to Vespasian's family, but its extravagant trappings were an indication of its ownership.

"It's clear that such things could only belong to someone with a high social position and wealth. And in this place, it was the Flavians," he said, referring to Vespasian's dynasty.

The villa was decorated with luxurious marble "coming from the whole Mediterranean area", he told the Associated Press news agency.

Vespasian, whose full name was Titus Flavius Vespasianus, had a successful military career before becoming governor of Africa and an aide to the emperor Nero.

The Colosseum was begun under his rule with spoils of the AD70 conquest of Jerusalem.

He was the founder of the Flavian dynasty of emperors.



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