Archaeological News

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Six brick and concrete buildings, nine drain junction boxes, five concrete paths and a road were found at the site known as Camp 22, Temple Camp, Auchinleck Camp and Pennylands Camp since 1942.

The grounds were originally built as training facilities for the Tank Corps, but went on to become a transit camp for German and Italian captives during the Second World War before becoming a repatriation centre for Polish soldiers.

“A series of 24 concrete-surrounded postholes on the north side of the road almost certainly relate to what would have been a fairly substantial fence dating to the POW camp phase of use,” says Christine Rennie, who oversaw a watching brief while topsoil and overburden were dug up in the Dumfries House area. Read more.

With UNESCO urging the Italian government to speed up repairs in Pompeii, the country’s culture minister assured the United Nations organization that the country will not be abandoning the long-neglected Roman city and efforts are being made to restore it.

Giovanni Puglisi, head of the UNESCO National Commission in Italy, on Saturday warned the government that it “has until December 31 to adopt suitable measures for Pompeii,” before a progress assessment by the organisation next February. 

In a January report, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization documented structural shortcomings and light damage at the 44-hectare (110-acre) site in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, where collapses have sparked international concern. Read more.

FOR 2000 years the ancient and decomposing hulk lay buried in deep, muddy waters, off the Italian coast.

Everybody knew it was down there because for more than 80 years local fishermen had been collecting bits of Roman artefacts and pots in their nets.

Finds of this nature are not unusual in Italian waters, which are littered with treasures going back thousands of years.

But these artefacts told a different story, and it was good enough to attract the interest of the archaeological community and a police commander who heads an expert diving squad in the city of Genoa.

Lieutenant-Colonel Francesco Schilardi, the commanding officer of the police team that found the wreck, has been referred to as the ”Top Gun” of the oceans because of the secrets he and his team unravel by locating and recovering wrecks and long-lost treasures. Read more.

( — A rare accounting document, half-concealed beneath a coat of arms design, has revealed the activities of Italian bankers working in early 15th century London, decades before the capital became a financial powerhouse. The discovery was made by economic historians at Queen Mary, University of London.

Among the pages of a bound collection of traditional English crests held at the London College of Arms - the headquarters of British heraldry - are several papers belonging to a book of debtors and creditors for Florentine merchant-banking company, Domenicio Villani & Partners.

The coats of arms are estimated to have been painted in 1480, during a time when good quality paper was scarce and anything that was available was re-used. The banking records, only half-covered by the design, date from 1422-24 and hint at the extensive trade in wool and other commodities produced in Britain during the era. Read more.

Italian police said Wednesday they had reported five people to prosecutors after finding and impounding some 18,000 ancient artifacts dug up in illegal excavations at archaeological sites near Rome.

Police have also sealed off three illegal dig sites previously unknown to archaeologists, they said in a statement: a necropolis dating from the Roman empire, a Roman villa and a sanctuary used by the Aequi people, who lived in an area northeast of Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries BC.

The items impounded include ancient artworks, Roman sarcophagi and engraved stones known as stela.

No arrests have been made, but investigators have reported five people to the public prosecutor’s office for illegal excavations, theft of cultural items belonging to the state and receiving stolen goods, the statement said. Read more.

A group of archaeological experts from Italy will conduct a series of studies in the ancient city of Estakhr, said director of the Iranian Center for Archaeological Research (ICAR) Mahmoud Mir-Eskandari. 

“The Italian group will use advanced equipments giving Iranian experts the chance to become acquainted with high-tech tools used in this field,” he added. 

The joint team will excavate the city for 45 days seeking probable signs of early mosques and ancient ruins, said Mir-Eskandari. 

In an earlier research program, a team of Iranian and Italian experts led by Professor Pierfrancesco Callieri of the University of Bologna studied some parts of the area in 2008. Read more.

The Italian government has launched a 105m euros (£87m) project to save one of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures, the ancient city of Pompeii.

There has been growing concern that the site, where volcanic ash smothered a Roman city in AD79, has been neglected.

A number of structures have fully or partially collapsed, including the “House of Gladiators” which fell down 18 months ago.

Italy and the EU have now put up the funds for a major restoration plan.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said the project aimed to secure “all theinsuale (ancient residential areas) currently at risk in one of the most important places of cultural heritage in the world”. Read more.

A mounted human head strikes a brain-teasing pose—just one of eight forgotten but stunningly preserved 19th-century Italian mummies whose secrets of preservation have only recently been unraveled.

Working in the town of Salò, anatomist Giovan Battista Rini (1795-1856) “petrified” the corpses and body parts by bathing them in a cocktail of mercury and other heavy metals, according to new chemical analyses and CT scans, to be described in a future issue of the journal Clinical Anatomy.

The study marks the first time a collection of Italian mummies made for anatomy studies has been analyzed in detail, according to study team member Dario Piombino-Mascali, a forensic anthropologist at the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy.

The witchlike appearance of a 19th-century woman’s disembodied head (pictured in a CT scanner) is heightened by fake eye caps and artificial hair long ago added for realism.

Scans revealed that the mummies’ original eyes, though shrunken, had survived behind the prosthetic versions.  

This mummified male head and shoulders were purposely taken apart to show muscles, airways, blood vessels, and other inner workings.

The cadavers were preserved by immersion in chemical baths and by injecting mercury and other minerals into internal body tissues, according to the new study. Read more.