Sinkhole reveals Roman paving near Pantheon

As if Rome wasn’t exciting enough, news that a sinkhole has opened up near the Pantheon has caused a buzz among archaeologists, who discovered the remains of Roman paving once they peered down it.

The imperial paving stones were laid more than two millennia ago – and the trench in Piazza della Rotonda reveals just how much of ancient Rome lies undiscovered beneath its streets.

Piazza della Rotonda from the Pantheon – the sinkhole is on the other side of the piazza by the white building you can see through the columns (image copyright A. Meredith)

The sinkhole is 8 feet deep and 10 feet square – and the Roman paving slabs are made of travertine and date from 27 B.C. to 25 B.C, which is about the same time the Pantheon was built. It is thought they were laid by Marcus Agrippa, who commissioned the Pantheon during the reign of his friend, the first Roman emperor Augustus, who was a great nephew of Julius Caesar and succeeded him after his murder. The artist Raphael is entombed inside the Pantheon.

The existing road surface in Piazza della Rotonda covers a tunnel housing cabling – and the paving slabs were first discovered years ago when these were laid. The existing road surface fell into the tunnel, exposing the Roman paving again.


Rome is often prone to sinkholes because of the excavations, catacombs and temples that lie beneath it – in some years, there can be more than 100 sinkholes opening up across the city.  The Romans built water systems beneath the city – and quarried its foundations for building materials, leaving vast caverns underfoot. Tourism and heavy traffic can also make the problem worse, although it is unusual for anyone to actually disappear down a sinkhole. Occasionally people do wake up to find part of their garden has disappeared, however!

You can take a peek at the sinkhole and its Roman remains here. 

Hopefully we will soon be able to visit Rome again and see the find for ourselves.

Buon viaggio!



All images Pixabay except where stated


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