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Archeologists Unearth Treasures

March 6, 1998

ROME (AP) _ Italian archaeologists _ and fishermen _ are on a roll: In less than a week they have discovered an ancient fresco, part of an enormous temple and a Greek bust dating to pre-Christian times.

``These extraordinary discoveries are not due to chance,″ said Rome Mayor Francesco Rutelli. ``We have done a lot of hard scientific work, and we can expect many more discoveries.″

In the past, many ruins in Rome were found when workers dug new gas or sewage lines, but Rutelli said the city is now taking an active role in seeking out the ancient treasures.

Chance did play a part however in the latest discovery, made by fishermen off the coast of Sicily. They netted a bronze bust, about twice life-size, of the Greek God of wind, Aeolus.

Experts believe the statue sunk 2,500 years ago, and could have been part of loot pillaged from Athens by soldiers from Rome.

The fresco discovered in Rome earlier this week shows a bird’s eye view of an ancient city that experts are still trying to identify.

City art expert Eugenio La Rocca said Friday the fresco was unique for its large size. He said most frescoes depicting cities were part of other larger pictures, while this one appeared to stand on its own.

Archeologists discovered the 10-foot by 6 1/2 foot fresco while working on one of Rome’s major archeological projects near Trajan’s Baths.

Recent restoration work at the Capitoline Museums also have uncovered stone blocks that appear to be the wall of an ancient temple to Jove.

Rocca said experts would soon begin new digs throughout Rome, including at the Circus Maximus.

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