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McDonald's Unveils Excavated Roman Road Beneath Italian Location

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At the McDonald’s restaurant in Frattocchie, Italy, patrons can enjoy fast food with a side of history. While digging for the building’s foundation in 2014, workers unearthed a swath of Roman road—and McDonald’s agreed to sponsor its excavation. The fast food chain partnered with archaeological authorities to incorporate the ancient thoroughfare into the restaurant’s design; earlier this week, The New York Times reports, the site opened to the public.

The stone street is protected in an underground gallery beneath the McDonald’s, located south of Rome. The gallery has a glass roof, so visitors can see the site from inside the restaurant. (There’s also a separate entrance, accessible from the parking lot, so non-customers can view the road up close.) As for the road itself, it stretches for about 150 feet, and was constructed between the second and first centuries BCE. It likely connected a villa or important estate to the Appian Way, the famous ancient highway that once connected southeastern Italy and Rome.

Grooves—presumably left by cart wheels—indicate that the road was used for hundreds of years. However, archaeologists also discovered the skeletons of three men, suggesting that it eventually fell into disuse by the second or third century CE. (The real bones weren’t left on-site; instead, experts replicated them using resin casts.)

McDonald’s contributed around 300,000 euros (nearly $318,000) to the project, and they will also pay to maintain the site. “This is our first museum-restaurant,” said Mario Federico, the head of McDonald’s Italia, according to The Telegraph. “We’ve been able to return a stretch of Roman road to the local community and to the whole of Italy. The project is a good example of how the public and private sectors can collaborate effectively on reclaiming cultural heritage.”

[h/t The New York Times]

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Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Egyptian Archaeologists Discover 3500-Year-Old Tomb of Goldsmith to the Pharaohs
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Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered the 3500-year-old tomb of a royal goldsmith. His name was Amenemhat, and his tomb was found in Draa Abul-Naga, a necropolis for elites and rulers located near the Valley of the Kings, in the southern Egyptian province of Luxor.

Amenemhat lived sometime during the 18th Dynasty (16th–14th century BCE). His tomb was dedicated to the god Amun-Re. It took archaeologists five months of digging to find a burial shaft leading to a chamber where they discovered a sarcophagus, mummies, and about 150 funerary statues and masks. Statues of Amenemhat and his wife, wearing a wig and a long dress, sat side by side in the chamber; a smaller statue of one of their sons rested between them, The New York Times reports.

egyptian archaeologist restoring the sarcophagus of a goldsmith
An Egyptian archaeologist restores an ornately decorated wood sarcophagus discovered in the tomb of Amenemhat, a royal goldsmith.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

More mummies, partially unwrapped, were discovered in a burial shaft. "We are not sure if these mummies belong to Amenemhat and his family," lead archaeologist Mostafa Waziri told the Times. "Others have clearly reused this tomb and poked around in ancient times. That’s probably why their heads are uncovered."

A laborer cleans an ancient skull in a goldsmith's tomb in egypt
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Amenemhat's tomb is not the most important find ever made in a country well known for its vast archaeological riches, but it comes at a time when Egypt is still trying to recover from the years of internal strife, terrorism, and violence that have followed in the wake of the uprising of 2011, which culminated in the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Tourism—a huge driver of Egypt's economy—plummeted, though there are signs the industry has begun to recover.

Egypt's antiquities minister, Khaled el-Enany, said as much in a news conference held outside the tomb over the weekend. "This find is important for marketing," he noted. "This is exactly what Egypt needs."

See more images of the discovery below.

Small funerary statues carved in wood, clay and limestone
Small funerary statues discovered in the tomb were carved in wood, clay, and limestone.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Jewelry, statues, and other artifacts discovered in the tomb.
Jewelry, statues, and other artifacts discovered in the tomb.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Skulls and bone remains placed next to a wooden sacrophagus.
Skulls and bone remains placed next to a wooden sacrophagus.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
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Courtesy of the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and the University of Sassari
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Archaeologists Discover Ancient Sunken City in the Mediterranean
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Courtesy of the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and the University of Sassari

Early on July 21, 365 CE, an 8.5 magnitude earthquake shook the eastern Mediterranean, triggering a powerful tsunami. The Egyptian city of Alexandria was damaged, towns crumbled on the island of Crete, and the Roman port city of Neapolis, located on the coast of North Africa, was largely swallowed by the wave, according to historical records. Now, after being hidden under water for more than 16 centuries, the remains of Neapolis have been discovered by archaeologists off the coast of northeast Tunisia. This, according to the AFP, confirms accounts that the city was a casualty of the ancient natural disaster.

Following several years of exploration, researchers from the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and the University of Sassari in Italy have discovered nearly 50 acres of watery ruins near the modern-day city of Nabeul. They include streets, monuments, homes, mosaics, and around 100 tanks used to make garum, a fish-based sauce that was so popular in ancient Rome and Greece that it's been likened to ketchup. 

These containers suggest that Neapolis was likely a major producer of garum, making the salty condiment an integral part of the city's economy. "Probably the notables of Neapolis owed their fortune to garum," expedition head Mounir Fantar told the AFP.

Neapolis ("new city" in Greek) was originally founded in the 5th century BCE. While it was an important Mediterranean hub, its name doesn't appear too often in ancient writings. According to The Independent, it may because the city sided with the ancient city-state of Carthage—founded in the 9th century BCE by a seafaring people known as the Phoenicians—in the last of a series of three wars, called the Punic Wars, against Rome.

The Third Punic War stretched from 149 to 146 BCE, and led to the burning of Carthage. (It was later rebuilt as a Roman city by Julius Caesar.) Neapolis may have been punished for its wayward allegiance, which may explain why it's rarely mentioned in historical accounts.

You can view a video of the city's ruins below.

[h/t AFP]

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