In Imperial Rome, you could do a lot with an amphora, like using it repeatedly to store and transport dry goods. If it broke, you could use it as lightweight filler in concrete. You could grind it down and reform it -- tedious, but true! And if it were slathered with olive oil that would slowly deteriorate and stink? Well, you could turn it into a mountain by breaking it into pieces and gluing them together with lime!
The Tombs of Via Latina Coming Soon!
Our visit takes us to the Aurelian Walls, where a small park nestles between the Via Appia and the Via Latina. In the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C., this was the boondocks of Rome. And the two roads bristled with tombs that, respecting ancient burial laws, were outside city limits.
On the Via Latina, near the Sepulcher of the Scipios, is the Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas. Columbarium comes from the Latin columba, which means “dove.” A columbarium was literally a dovecot, where birds were raised for their eggs and as food. When cremation burials became common, ash-urns were deposited in small niches that were carved into tombs walls. The niches produced a dovecot effect, which gave this type of tomb its name.
"How can a city be built in layers?" you ask. It is common in Rome! Imagine hundreds, if not thousands, of ancient Roman buildings in brick and concrete collapsing... then add the filth and mud of floods... and voila', ground level rises! Incredible examples of this phenomenon can be seen at San Clemente, the Vicus Caprarius, and here at the Nymphaeum (or water feature) under Via Annibaldi...