The construction of a 300-space car park near the Vatican was temporarily halted after bulldozers uncovered ancient tombs dating back to the time of Nero. Yesterday afternoon the Vatican Information Service released a statement by Archbishop Francesco Marchisano, president of the Permanent Commission for the Care of Historical and Artistic Monuments of the Holy See. He said he had personally investigated the site on March 10 and closely examined the work accomplished and the archeological finds. He said initial research through soil studies had been undertaken to see if there were indications of important artifacts on the site. "The excavation brought to light several artifacts, including two sarcophagi, one pagan and one Christian," he said. "There were several floor mosaics of modest dimensions, and several terracotta artifacts such as two half-buried amphorae that I was able to see." Archbishop Marchisano noted that, given his many years experience in works executed in Christian catacombs both in and near Rome, he was "very impressed by the care and attention given during the research as soon as the artifacts were found." He observed that this could be "a very small funeral site, perhaps of a few families. All archeological remains found at the site will be preserved in the Vatican Museums and made available to specialists and to all who will visit the Museums."
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