Sorry, Miami, That Story About Roman Ruins Discovered Downtown Is a Lie
The story flooded Facebook feeds all over South Florida last week. Topped with a photo of a construction site filled with tall, dusty pillars, it boasted of a remarkable discovery: ancient Roman ruins discovered right in downtown Miami. "This find will change everything we know about modern history if it can be dated and identified to truly be Roman," the story breathlessly claimed.
via Google Street Maps Are these ancient Roman ruins in downtown Miami?
The post quickly went viral, with hundreds of shares and comments. "Say what??? #ancienttemples in #Miami???" one person freaked out. "The Romans were in America... That's why Caesar is buried in I think it's Illinois... Huge cover-up. Cleopatra too," another quipped. Interest spiked so much that construction workers at the site had to put up opaque netting to keep gawkers at bay.
Hate to break it to you, Miami, but the story is about as reliable as Mario Chalmers' point guard skills. It's a classic case of a piece with just enough facts to pass off as the truth in the quick-sharing Facebook era -- but it's totally bogus.
"This is way off the beaten path," says Paul George, a historian at HistoryMiami. "It's utterly unbelievable that someone started this ridiculous myth on a whim."
Don't feel too bad if you fell for the hoax. After all, there really are ancient ruins under Miami's condos. Just a few years ago, the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy confirmed the discovery of South Florida's largest Tequesta Native American cemetery at a downtown construction site. The 2,000-year-old cemetery is located just 800 feet from the Miami Circle, another mysterious structure built by native inhabitants.
What's more, the photo topping the story is also totally legit. It comes from a construction site at 151 SE First Ave., right behind the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, where a new high-rise condo project is underway; there really are some odd-looking pillars at the site.