Rome's Tor Vergata University has launched an international, multidisciplinary programme to produce a definitive three-dimensional map of Hadrian's villa.
A dozen, mainly Italian, universities and research institutes will take part in the initiative, which will use digital photography, microwave sensors, new scanning techniques and a nuclear accelerator to diagnose the condition of paintings, stuccoes and structures.
From 126 AD, the Emperor Hadrian built an idealised Greek city on the edge of Rome, which included palaces, theatres, temples, libraries, baths and barracks.
Architect Giuseppina Cinque, who teaches at Tor Vergata's engineering faculty, said: "The only accurate, detailed map of Hadrian's Villa was produced in 1906. This is the map everyone uses. The area now defined as Villa Adriana is 80 hectares, but we now know it originally covered 120 hectares. The new model will be at least partly completed by 2006."
Those involved are: the science, engineering and economics departments of Tor Vergata, the humanities and engineering faculties of Trento University, Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics, the National Research Council, the Aerial Laboratory of Environment Research, the Nello Carra Institute of Applied Physics, the Technology for Cultural Heritage laboratory at Florence University, the Ecole Nationale Ponts et Chaussées in Paris and Lubeck University in Germany.