London, October 1 (ANI): A team of archaeologists has uncovered a lavish Roman amphitheatre in Italy at a site described as being of the same significance as Stonehenge.
According to a report in The Times, the team, led by University of Southampton researchers, discovered an amphitheatre of a similar size to the Pantheon in Rome after two years excavating an ancient port, close to Fiumicino airport.
This is the first time that a large-scale dig has taken place at the site, known as Portus, which was discovered in the 16th century and excavated in the 1860s.
Now two miles inland, it would have been twice the size of the port of Southampton and an important gateway between Rome and the Mediterranean.
It is possible that it was frequented by 2nd-century emperors.
British excavators, including staff from the University of Cambridge and the British School at Rome, said that the amphitheatre was likely to have been built for the private entertainment of a senior statesman or emperor and could have held up to 2,000 spectators.
"The amphitheatre's design, using luxurious materials and substantial colonnades, suggests it was used by a high-status official, possibly even the emperor himself," said Professor Simon Keay, the project director.
"The activities that took place there were strictly private: it could have been games or gladiatorial combat, wild beast baiting or the staging of mock sea battles, but we really do not know," he added.
Archaeologists also discovered a well-preserved Roman toilet in a room made of marble near the outside wall of the amphitheatre.
It is still possible to sit on the toilet, which was designed to be used by three people at a time and had holes in the front so that users could clean themselves with a brush.
According to Rose Ferraby, from Cambridge, who helped with the discovery, "We are taking out the dirt from the toilet, which is basically ancient human waste, and sampling it to find seeds and even parasites so we can build a picture of diet and the people who were here."
Professor Keay is certain that the discoveries at Portus are of great historical significance.
"This is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Certainly, it should be rated alongside such wonders as tonehenge and Angkor Wat in Cambodia," he said. (ANI)