Rome's new subway line unearths ancient treasures

Rome subway station to incorporate historic f... 03:13

Rome is a city almost as famous for its traffic as its landmarks. Its subway stations are located near historic treasures like the famed Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum.

So expanding the metro presents challenges, but also can lead to rather spectacular discoveries, reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane.

"CBS This Morning" was invited to a construction site where the Line C subway is being built. It looks more like an archaeological dig.

Francesco Prosperetti, Rome's head of archaeology in this area, showed us the surprise they uncovered when digging down several stories to build the subway station.

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Around 2,000 years ago, these were military barracks for Emperor Hadrian's army.

"Their rooms were decorated with mosaics and frescos," Prosperetti said.

The 39 rooms were used for weapon storage and as sleeping areas for troops of ancient Rome. Thirteen adult skeletons were also uncovered.

"If we hadn't built this station, we would never have found these Roman remains," Prosperetti said.

Instead of stopping work or relocating the find, the plan is to have an architect design a way to incorporate this discovery into the metro stop itself. It will become Rome's first "archaeological station," along the lines of metro museums in places like Athens, Greece, where travelers at a number of subway stops can peruse ancient artifacts as they journey across the capital.

Rome's subway system has been plagued by delays, which, Prosperetti said, does not stem from the archaeology.

"Most of the problems of the delays in construction of [the metro] are due to finance problem. Not having enough money," Prosperetti said.

Rome's third metro line isn't scheduled to be completed until 2021. There have been plenty of delays that are a result of a far less visual but just as ancient problem - corruption.