National Roman Museum - Crypta Balbi

Archaelogy and History of an Urban Landascape. A Room on the Ground Floor

The Crypta Balbi is a city-block of the historic centre of Rome wherein a vast portico, the Crypt of Balbus, rose in ancient times; it was an annexe of the theatre that Cornelius Balbus had erected in 13 BCE.

On the eastern side of the portico, included in the perimeter of the modern block, there extends a series of ancient blocks represented in the Forma Urbis ("Shape of the City", the marble map of Ancient Rome carved under the emperor Septimius Severus), whose buildings are partly accessible. 

Urban Archaeology and the Museum of Rome in the Middle Ages 

The exhibition path proceeds through the diverse buildings that succeeded one another over the different historical eras. The section Archaeology and History of an Urban Landscape illustrates the history of the complex from Antiquity to the 20th century: from the constructions of Balbus to the ruralisation of the urban landscape in the 5th century and, then, to the erection of the medieval churches and houses in the area, especially the edifice of the Conservatorio di Santa Caterina della Rosa (Conservatory of St. Catherine of the Rose) which, between the mid-15th century and the first decades of the 17th century, occupied the greater part of the area.

The section Rome from Antiquity to the Middle Ages illustrates the transformations of the city between Late Anquity and the Early Middle Ages (5th-9th centuries). The most consistent nucleus of the exhibition comprises the contexts of the materials found during the excavations of the Crypta, such as the Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages deposit of the Exedra, whose 7th century phase provided thousand of objects, mainly ceramics, but also vitreous objects, coins, lead seals as well as thousands of objects in metal, bone and ivory in addition to precious stones and tools pertaining to a workshop that crafted luxury objects for clothing and adornment.

The contexts of the Crypta are integrated by coeval finds coming from the historical collections of the Roman museums and by the contexts unearthed during the urban excavations carried out in the last decades.