Archaeological finds on Milan’s M4 metro

Milan history revealed by subway digs.

Engineering and archaeology in parallel to build a bridge between past and future: Milan’s M4 metro line has collected the artefacts discovered during the tunnelling for the new “blue” line and has put them on view in the Archaeology Museum in Via Magenta 15.

Traces of Roman and mediaeval Milan, uncovered and preserved by the expert consultants working alongside the engineers, provide a fascinating record of the city’s history. 

The discoveries are described on the spot on display panels in most of the construction sites and completed digs; these are repeated in the museum exhibition alongside the actual finds in showcases.

The central section of the M4 line between S. Babila and S. Ambrogio stations touches locations of major importance for the historical memory of Milan, following the periphery of the Roman city of Mediolanum and meeting the city walls, the major roads out of the town, the early Christian basilicas and the cemeteries.

Particularly in the sites of these two stations, touching testimony of the identity and history of the inhabitants of two millennia ago came to light: tombs of men, women and children containing objects of daily life, preserved intact a few feet below today’s streets and pavements.

Around the stations of S. Sofia, S. Calimero and Vetra, traces were discovered of the complex network of canals and bridges, and saved for the exhibition. And at the De Amicis station close to Piazza Resistenza Partigiana, mediaeval defence works were recovered, and a bridge over the historical S. Girolamo canal was dismantled and will be reconstructed inside the station once building work is finished.

The exhibit will remain open until 23 September, Tuesdays to Sundays from 09.00 to 17.30, with entrance free on the first and third Thursday afternoons of each month.