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THE EXCAVATIONS FOR THE ESPOSIZIONE UNIVERSALE DI ROMA (EUR): 1938 - 1942

In 1938 one-third of the city had been excavated. But then extensive, hurried excavations began, lasting until 1942. The initiator was Mussolini, who wanted to present Ostia during a world-fair, the Esposizione Universale di Roma (EUR). The excavated area was more than doubled. More than 600.000 cubic metres of earth were removed, that had reached a height of 4 to 12 metres above the ancient street level. Needless to say that much information was not recorded during these five years. For example, the excavation and restoration of the Terme dei Sette Sapienti and the adjacent Caseggiato del Serapide, between 1935 and 1940, is documented almost exclusively through 137 photographs. The inspectors in charge of the excavations were Celestino Levantesi and Berardi. Some 150 labourers worked, basically, with the equipment from the early twentieth century. The world-fair never took place.

The present museum was inaugurated in 1934, in the presence of Mussolini, and enlarged in 1945. The Piccolo Mercato, Via Tecta, and rooms in the podium of the Capitolium were used as store rooms. A second entrance to the excavations was created near the Porta Laurentina. It can still be seen, but is no longer used. It could be accessed from a panoramic road to the south of the excavations, today named after Calza. Calza died in 1946. Shortly before his death he had married Raissa Gurievich Kroll, a Russian ballet dancer, the ex-wife of the Italian painter De Chirico. She became an expert in the field of sculpture.



The excavations of the Terme dei Sette Sapienti. Photograph: SAOA B2525.



The excavations of the Terme dei Sette Sapienti. Photograph: SAOA B2558.



The excavations of the Terme dei Sette Sapienti. Photograph: SAOA B2569.



The excavations of the Terme dei Sette Sapienti. Photograph: SAOA B2571.



The excavations of the Terme dei Sette Sapienti. Photograph: SAOA B2579.



The excavations of the courtyard of the Caseggiato del Serapide.
Photograph: SAOA B2527.




The excavations and restorations of the courtyard of the Caseggiato del Serapide.
Photograph: SAOA B2547.




The courtyard as it appears today. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



A bunker near the museum. Here objects from the museum were stored during WW II.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.