Washington, Aug 18 (ANI): Archaeologists are all set to unearth several pieces of the world's oldest and largest unsolved jigsaw puzzle- a 2,200-year-old map of Rome made of thousands of marble fragments-by next year.
The rare pieces could be excavated following construction work for a new metro line near Rome's majestic forum area.
"This is a unique occasion to excavate the Forum of Peace, where the map once stood," Discovery News quoted Rossella Rea, director of the Colosseum, as telling the Italian financial daily "Il Sole 24 Ore", as saying.
Carved into marble slabs around 210 A.D., during the rule of the emperor Septimius Severus, the map was originally hung on a wall in the Templum Pacis (Temple of Peace), which stood in the middle of an enclosure called Forum of Peace.
The wall still survives today in a building near the 6th-century Church of Santi Cosma e Damiano.
Rows of holes where the map was attached using bronze clamps can still be seen.
The enormous marble map detailed every building, street and staircase in second-century Rome, until it was partially ripped from the wall, probably to make lime for cement.
What was left fell down and broke apart in hundreds of unrecognizable pieces.
Piecing the jigsaw puzzle together -- 1,186 fragments which cover only 10 to 15 percent the original map surface and are now kept in the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Capitoline Museums in Rome -- has been one of the great unsolved problems of archaeology.
Given the way the map fell from its position on the wall, researchers believe that several remaining fragments still lie around the site and can be unearthed during the unique dig.
But more treasures might come to light in an area that Rea considers "the most interesting among the imperial forums." (ANI)