The remains of a huge Roman temple, the size of St Paul's Cathedral in London has been found by a Cambridge University archaeological team in central Italy. The sacred site was uncovered several feet below Falerii Novi, an abandoned town around 30 miles north of Rome.
The Falerii temple had rows of columns on three sides and is believed to cover a site 120m long and 60m wide. Theories on its use have given insight into a period of Roman expansion and urbanisation in Italy.
The site in southern Etruria, housed around 2,500 people in the time of the Roman Republic, during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC.
The intriguing remains excavated so far are the remains of a theatre, a basilica (used for meetings and legal proceedings) and a large defensive gate, according to a Times report. This latest research adds to historians' understanding of urban planning in the early days of the Roman period.
Archaeologists used a radar device attached to the back of a quad bike to examine the excavation site. Martin Millett, professor of classical archaeology at Cambridge said this device enabled the team to discover in depth the layout of the town as well as its development and growth.
Falerii is believed to have been founded after a rebellion by the Falisci tribe in 241BC was suppressed. The town also gives insight into the Rome's growing cultural exchange from other cultures, as Greek-style buildings were discovered here.
The Roman colony of Falerii Novi was excavated in the 1990s and a geophysical survey shows the existence of warehouses, shops, market places, temples, a theatre and forum.
The British School at Rome has used magnetometry to reveal archaeological features of the city during the times of the Roman Republic. This technique can detect metals at much greater depth than basic metal detectors which have a range of only two metres.