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Ancient Roman site "The House of the Vestal Virgins" renovated

01-31-2011 09:00 BJT

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One of ancient Rome's most important sites is coming back to life after extensive renovation work. The House of the Vestal Virgins, located at the heart of the city, has reopened to visitors after a twenty-year break.

Once a large, 50-room building complex by the Roman Forum, the House of the Vestal Virgins was home of priestesses in charge of keeping the sacred flame of the Temple of Vesta, symbol of the eternal life of Rome, permanently lit.

Six virgins of six to ten years of age with ideal physiques were chosen from noble Roman families to serve at the house for a period of 30 years.

The site provided them with modern living conditions and the priestesses were allowed to choose whether to stay or to marry once their service finished.

Darius A.Arya, Directors of Archeology, American Institute for Roman Culture, said, "The House of the Vestal Virgins was one of the most important sites of the Roman Forum. This is where the priestesses, the unique priestesses, would take care of the flame of the temple of Vesta. They had a direct communication with the emperor, they were grander representatives of the people of Rome, they maintained the safety of Rome by maintaining the safety of the flame."

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