NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Developers building multi-million dollar homes in Westchester County, New York, were surprised to discover that the homes weren't the most valuable thing on the property.
This is an incredible story that spans centuries and continents. It begins in modern-day Westchester County but it takes us back to the days of Ancient Rome -- all because of a once-in-a-lifetime discovery: a piece of ancient history right in our own backyard.
Andy Todd is the president of Greystone-on-Hudson, a 100-acre development of multi-million dollar estates currently under construction in Tarrytown.
This very land was once known as Millionaires Row; home to the Rockefellers, the Astors, and the Morgans. It is where the former Greystone castle once stood. The mansion was built during the gilded age of the late 19th Century.
The widow of Josiah Macy, John D. Rockefeller's partner in Standard Oil, lived in the castle. In 1893, she purchased a monument from the Villa Borghese in Rome. Nearly a century later in 1976 the Greystone castle burned to the ground.
Todd said that when the castle burned down, workers buried anything that was left, mainly stone, into the foundation.
The stone remained buried until one day last year. Excavators were digging up stone before they began construction and were amazed by what they found. As it turns out, it was an artifact that dates all the way back to 54 A.D.
Christopher Lightfoot is a curator of Roman art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He told us about the day Todd called him with news about his rare discovery. He said he was very surprised and that it was incredible that such a stone turned up in New York. Lightfoot was able to authenticate the monument based on its Latin inscription. He said that it is a tombstone.
The monument is now on display for all to see in the Greek and Roman Galleries at the Met -- thousands of miles from Rome, thousands of years later.
For Todd, it is a timeless story to tell.
The monument has a link to Julius Caesar. It was the tombstone of a tax collector named Tiberius Claudius Saturninus. He was an imperial freed man of the Roman Emperor Claudius who was related to Julius Caesar.