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Italian archaeologists have discovered the tomb of the ancient Roman hero believed to have inspired Russell Crowe's character in the hit movie "Gladiator," Rome's officials announced on Thursday at a press conference.
Marble beams and columns, carvings and friezes first emerged from the Roman soil during construction work to build a residential complex in Saxa Rubra, not far from the headquarters of Rai, Italy's state-run television station.
According to Cristiano Ranieri, an archaeologist who led the excavation at the site, the huge fragments belonged to a monumental marble tomb built on the banks of the Tiber River at the end of the second century A.D.
"This is the most important ancient Roman monument to come to light for 20 or 30 years," Daniela Rossi, an archaeologist for the city of Rome, told reporters.