University of Michigan archeologists digging in Italy have unearthed a grand structure unlike anything the Romans were known to be building at the time. Dating back 300 years before the Coliseum, the football-field-sized monument contains two terraces connected by a grand staircase, a massive stone retaining wall and geometrically patterned floors. Images courtesy: Marcello Mogetta.

The massive monument recently discovered outside Rome shows an important step in the development of the impressive architectural style the Romans became known for.

A team of 60 researchers including undergraduates and graduate students from several universities took part this summer in a major archeological dig at the site of Gabii, just outside Rome. The project, which began in 2009, is the largest American dig in Italy in the past 50 years.