From archaeology.org: Emblems of Empire.
Hidden for centuries, unique symbols of Roman power emerge from beneath the imperial city.
In a small trench on the northeast slope of the Palatine Hill, in an underground chamber once covered with thick ancient pavement, a team of archaeologists from Rome’s University La Sapienza has made the discovery of a lifetime: a silk- and linen-wrapped poplar wood case covering three bronze pikes, a scepter, five javelins, and four spheres, three of glass and another of blue chalcedony, a type of quartz. “At first we thought the poles were the tops of an iron gate. When we found them we saw that they were in such good condition that they seemed modern, not ancient,” says excavation director Clementini Panella. But what they actually uncovered are the first known examples of signa (standards), as well as an imperial scepter, among the most important symbols of power for the ancient Romans. "This is an exceptional find," says Panella, who has been working for several years in this area about 250 yards from the Colosseum. "These pikes, javelins, this scepter, and the spheres constitute an extraordinary treasure that every classical archaeologist hopes to find. Until yesterday we only were able to read about these objects and see them on coins, sculpture, and ivories. Today we have them in our hands." [continue]