Head of Titus found at Pozzuoli
A head of the Roman Emperor Titus was found Tuesday amid the latest archeological hoard to be hauled from the ruins of the ancient port of Puteoli near Naples.
Puteoli, on the site of today's Pozzuoli, was an important port of call on the Romans' grain route to Egypt and grew to be a major city where merchants and businessman sealed deals before heading off for the flesh pots of Pompeii and Baiae.
It also attracted visitors because the Romans believed its sulphur wells hid the entrance to the Underworld.
Archaeologists have been digging at Pozzuoli since 1993, building on major 17th and 18th century discoveries such as the Temple of Serapis, the Flavian Amphitheatre and Cicero's Villa.
Among the more recent discoveries have been a temple believed to have been consecrated to Augustus and a stadium.
On Tuesday, as well as the head of Titus, emperor from 79-81 AD, archaeologists found the head of an unidentified empress, a Gorgon head, several damaged statues and part of an equestrian statue.
Experts said they were evidence of the wealth of a city whose two main roads have recently been freed.
Pozzuoli, whose other claims to fame include the fact that St Paul landed there on his way to Rome and the actress Sophia Loren was born there, has become increasingly assertive in marketing its ancient assets to lure tourists from Pompeii.
In October an ancient Roman stadium where Emperor Antoninus Pius staged Rome's version of the Olympic Games opened to the public for the first time in almost 500 years.
Archaeologists have so far excavated half of the stadium, built around 142 AD and buried by volcanic ash in 1538 following an eruption by the nearby Mount Nuovo.
Pozzuoli Mayor Pasquale Giacobbe said at the time: ''Like the great Italian culture capitals of Florence, Venice, Rome and Urbino, Pozzuoli can also take advantage of its illustrious past, which is reflowering from the bowels of the earth''.
Antoninus Pius, who ruled from 138 to 161 AD, built the Greek-style stadium in honour of his predecessor, Hadrian, who died at the exclusive ancient seaside resort of Baiae in 138 AD and who was briefly buried at Puteoli while his mausoleum - better known as Castel Sant'Angelo - was being completed in Rome.
Olympic-style games, known as Eusebeia, were begun in honour of Hadrian, who was renowned for his love of Greek culture, and continued until the third century AD.
Hadrian's notorius precedessor Caligula (ruled 37-41 AD) staged a spectacular stunt at Puteoli soon after his coronation, riding across a two-mile pontoon bridge in defiance of an astrologer's prediction that he had ''no more chance of becoming emperor than of riding a horse across the Gulf of Baiae''.