Russel Crowe on Monday backed calls to save the tomb
of an ancient Roman general whose life inspired Gladiator, the
Hollywood star's Oscar-winning movie.
The remains of the 2nd century AD mausoleum, dedicated to Marcus Nonius Macrinus, were dug out in 2008. Located north of Rome, they now risk being buried again because officials do not have enough funds to pay for their upkeep.
"The members of the Rome city council should encourage Italy's citizens to be proud of the successes and the glorious history of their country," Crowe told La Repubblica newspaper, urging authorities not to go ahead with the reburial plan.
His appeal came a day after an online petition was launched in favour of the so-called Gladiator Tomb by the American Institute for Roman Culture, a non-governmental organization based in Texas, United States.
"(We) raise our voices in protest against the covering of this unique site and we advocate a forum to discuss alternative solutions," says the petition, which aims to collect 5,000 signatures.
The petition had collected over 300 signatures as of Monday afternoon.
Burying the tomb again would help preserve it, but would shield it from public viewing.
Mariarosaria Barbera, the national superintendent for Rome's monuments, was quoted by La Repubblica as saying that her office could not afford the 3 million euros (3.9 million dollars) that are necessary to keep the 13,000 square meter site open.
The newspaper said a real estate developer could help if it was allowed to build in the area.
"I hope to be able to consider concrete proposals as soon as possible. Before recovering (the tomb), all alternative options must be explored," Barbera said.
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