Remains of the fabled dining hall have been discovered on the city’s Palatine Hill, where emperors traditionally built their most lavish palaces.
The hall is said to have had a revolving wooden floor which allowed guests to survey a ceiling painted with stars and equipped with panels from which flower petals and perfume would shower onto the tables below.
The remains of the room were found by archeologists excavating the Domus Aurea, or Golden House, which was built for Nero during his reign from 54 to 68AD.
The leader of the four month dig, Françoise Villedieu, said her team discovered part of a circular room which was supported by a pillar with a diameter of more than 13 feet.
The Roman historian Suetonius described the unique revolving room in his Lives of the Caesars, written about 60 years after Nero’s death.
“The chief banqueting room was circular and revolved perpetually, night and day, in imitation of the motion of the celestial bodies,” he wrote.
Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, the recently departed head of the British School at Rome, an archeological institute, said: “People have been trying to find the rotating dining room for a long time. We don’t have much idea about it except for what Suetonius tells us. It could have had a revolving floor, or possibly a revolving ceiling. “If they really have discovered it, that would be exciting.”
Rome’s commissioner for archaeology, Roberto Cecchi, said funds would be made available to help archeologists carry out further investigation and try to verify whether they have indeed found Nero’s dining room.
Nero established during his lifetime a reputation for cruelty and megalomania before committing suicide in AD 68.
Among the monuments he erected was a giant gilded statue of himself, known as the Colossus, which gave its name to the Colosseum amphitheatre.
Archaeologists in Rome claimed today to have found the remains of a legendary revolving dining room built by Emperor Nero to impress his guests.
Digging on the Palatine Hill, archaeologists stumbled on the remnants of a circular room, 16 metres (53ft) in diameter, which they believe formed part of Nero’s palace, built in the first century AD.
Sixty years after Nero’s reign, the historian Suetonius wrote that the dining room revolved “night and day, in imitation of the motion of the celestial bodies”. Archaeologists have yet to determine how the room revolved. Known as the Domus Aurea, or Golden Room, the palace also featured an artificial lake and was dominated by a 100-foot statue of Nero.
“This discovery has no equal among ancient Roman architectural finds,” said dig leader Francoise Villedieu. He said the room was supported by a pillar with a diameter of 4m (13ft). Traces of a wood platform which possibly floated on water in the room have also been found.
Italy’s government has granted €200,000 (£183,000) to let the dig continue.