The Roman 'highway' found in Thessaloniki
A true ''highway'' of ancient times has recently been discovered by a team of archaeologists in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. It is a 70-metre-long stretch of marble pavement which served
as the city's main artery and which was built by Romans about 2,000 years ago and found during excavation works for Thessaloniki's new underground, due to be completed in four years. The 70 metres of ancient road will be raised to the current road level to be able to be put on show when the new underground is inaugurated in 2016. The excavation site was shown to the public on Monday, the day in which the details of the permanent exhibition were also announced. Many of the large marble paving stones bear the etchings of board games, while on others there are clear grooves marked on them by the wheels of carts hitched to horses or other draught animals. In the same site the bases of many columns - also marble - surfaced, as well as the remains of utensils and lamps. Viki Tzanakouli, an archaeologist working on the excavations, said that the Roman road dates back about 1,800 years and that underneath the path has been found of another road built by the Greeks 500 years before. ''We have found the roads on top of each other, a fact which teaches us about the cities over the centuries,'' Tzanakouli said. ''The ancient road and the one perpendicular to it seem to follow the same line as the boulevards of the current city.'' In fact, about seven metres underground in central Thessaloniki, the ancient Roman road follows more or less the same direction as the modern Egnatia Avenue. The works for the underground, which got underway in 2006, constitute for archaeologists a unique chance to explore the underground layers of this city which is today densely populated. These invaluable archaeological finds, however, were also for years the reason behind delays in the starting of the building of the underground. In 2008, a group of workers found an underground necropolis with over 1,000 tombs (from different eras and of various sizes and shapes) and many contained coins, jewels and works of art. Due to these finds (as well as the economic crisis Greece is suffering from), the works for the Thessaloniki underground are four years behind schedule. However, when the new network is completed, the city will have 13 new underground stations with an extra ten to be added not long after.