Culture Ministry officials said that medieval pottery shards in the city of the dead, or necropolis, show the area may have been inhabited by the living during the Dark Ages after being used for centuries for burials during the Roman period.
It is not yet clear who was buried in the ancient cemetery, but archaeologists at the still partially excavated site believe at least some of the dead were freed slaves of Greek origin.
Writings at the site led experts to identify the tomb as belonging to Marcus Nonius Macrinus, one of the closest aides and generals of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius during his campaigns against Germanic tribes in Northern Europe. And more importantly, the inspiration for Russell Crow's Gladiator character.
Meanwhile funeral directors are having their conference in Orlando this week. And baby they are rubbing their pallid hands together.
Funeral Industry Prepares for Potential Historic Windfall: Death of the Baby Boomers. Experts say the mortality rate is the greatest single predictor of the industry's business, estimated at about $11 billion annually at funeral homes alone. So bottom lines are likely to bulge.
"It sounds kind of morbid, but they are looking at boom times," said Tara Olson, the owner of AllPoints Research, a marketing research firm that has worked with funeral homes to develop business plans. "They're just sort of waiting for the baby boomers to start dying off."
So how do you livin' up a funeral convention?
For now, funeral directors milled the floors of the convention center here, in a surreal world where people in Snow White and Tinkerbell costumes hand out flyers for a funeral webcasting company and a marching band performs near a display of tiny caskets for children.
Chocolates come in the shape of coffins, boxer shorts have jokes about cremation, and giveaway calendars devote months to products such as JaundiBalm ("Toughest against jaundice!")
Some convention-goers tested out a device used to lift corpses by being lowered into a coffin, then back unto a table. "Best thing ever invented," one exclaimed.
And they are feeling good.