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Japanese archaeologists from the University of Tokyo recently announced new data that they say confirms that a villa in Somma Vesuviana on the northern slope of Mt. Vesuvius once belonged to Caesar Augustus. From the work of several ancient writers, including Tacitus and Suetonius, we know that Augustus died on the northern side of Vesuvius and that his villa there was later dedicated as a temple for his imperial cult. The villa in Somma Vesuviana was first discovered in the 1930’s, but at that time it appeared that it only dated to early in the second century AD. Further excavations, however, have revealed that the second-century villa was built atop an earlier villa complex. Radiocarbon dating and chemical analysis of volcanic layers have revealed that the earlier structure dates to the reign of Augustus. A large temple-like structure was later built on top of the villa site, providing further evidence that the first-century villa may have once belonged to Augustus. Caesar Augustus is named in Luke 2:1 as the Roman emperor ruling at the time of Christs’ birth. 



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