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Tomb of Real 'Gladiator' Found in Rome

Italian archaeologists have discovered the tomb of the ancient Roman hero said to have inspired the character played by Russell Crowe in the film "Gladiator."

Daniela Rossi, an archaeologist based in Rome, said the discovery of the monumental marble tomb of Marcus Nonius Macrinus, including a large inscription bearing his name, was "an exceptional find."

She said it was "the most important ancient Roman monument to come to light for twenty or thirty years."

The tomb is on the banks of the Tiber near the via Flaminia, north of Rome. Cristiano Ranieri, who led the archeological team at the site, said the tomb had long ago collapsed into the mud but its columns, roof and decorations were intact. Some parts of the tomb had slipped into the river, but had been recovered.

Marcus Nonius Macrinus, born in Brescia in northern Italy, was a general and consul who led military campaigns for Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor from 161 AD to 180 AD.

He became part of the Emperor's inner circle and one of his favorites, serving as proconsul in Asia.

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