ROME (AP) – The Dallas Museum of Art has agreed to return six antiquities that were looted illegally from Italy.
In exchange, Italy is loaning the Dallas museum treasures from the Spina necropolis housed at the Ferrara archaeological museum.
Italy’s culture ministry announced the agreement Thursday. The objects being returned include Etruscan-era kraters – vases – and a pair of bronze shields.
The ministry’s press office said that unlike past negotiations with U.S. museums, which involved threatened or real legal action to recover looted antiquities, Dallas museum director Maxwell Anderson spontaneously offered to return the items after the museum couldn’t determine their provenance. (source)
Last month, archaeologists announced a stunning find: a completely sealed tomb cut into the rock in Tuscany, Italy.
The untouched tomb held what looked like the body of an Etruscan prince holding a spear, along with the ashes of his wife. Several news outlets reported on the discovery of the 2,600-year-old warrior prince.
But the grave held one more surprise.
A bone analysis has revealed the warrior prince was actually a princess, as Judith Weingarten, an alumna of the British School at Athens noted on her blog, Zenobia: Empress of the East.
Historians know relatively little about the Etruscan culture that flourished in what is now Italy until its absorption into the Roman civilization around 400 B.C. Read more.
Two penises engraved on a 2,000 year old stone may shed light on the foundation of the city of Aosta in northern Italy, revealing its deep connection with the Roman emperor Augustus.
Named Augusta Praetoria Salassorum by the Romans — who captured it from the local Salassi people in 25 B.C. to control strategic mountain passes — Aosta boasts several monuments dedicated to Augustus.
"But the newly discovered stone tells even more about Aosta’s connection with the Roman emperor. It reveals the city was built under Augustus’ sign during the winter solstice," Giulio Magli, professor of archaeoastronomy at Milan’s Polytechnic University, told Discovery News. Read more.
Archaeologists in Italy have set about making red wine exactly as the ancient Romans did, to see what it tastes like.
Based at the University of Catania in Sicily and supported by Italy’s national research centre, a team has planted a vineyard near Catania using techniques copied from ancient texts and expects its first vintage within four years.
"We are more used to archaeological digs but wanted to make society more aware of our work, otherwise we risk being seen as extraterrestrials," said archaeologist Daniele Malfitana.
At the group’s vineyard, which should produce 70 litres at the first harvest, modern chemicals will be banned and vines will be planted using wooden Roman tools and will be fastened with canes and broom, as the Romans did. Read more.
In a long-buried Italian city, archaeologists have found a massive monument that dates back 300 years before the Colosseum and 100 years before the invention of mortar, revealing that the Romans had grand architectural ambitions much earlier than previously thought.
The structure, unearthed at the site known as Gabii, just east of Rome, is built with giant stone blocks in a Lego-like fashion. It’s about half the size of a football field and dates back 350-250 years BCE. It’s possibly the earliest public building ever found, said Nicola Terrenato, a University of Michigan classics professor who leads the project—the largest American dig in Italy in the past 50 years. Read more.
PERUGIA, Italy — As tomb heists go, it was an odd job.
The robbers were not professional tombaroli, the looters of ancient sites who have over the centuries despoiled countless graves in Italy. They were people, the authorities said, who had stumbled onto a trove of important Etruscan artifacts a decade ago while digging to build a garage in a villa just outside the city center here.
Rather than notify authorities, investigators say the looters divided up the stash and looked around for years before trying to cash in on their good fortune.
But two years ago, when the police were searching a home in Rome, they turned up a photograph of what appeared to be an illicit artifact. Read more.
, Italy — Destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, Pompeii survived excavation starting in the 18th century and has stoically borne the wear and tear of millions of modern-day tourists.
But now, its deep-hued frescoes, brick walls and elegant tile mosaics appear to be at risk from an even greater threat: the bureaucracy of the Italian state.
In recent years, collapses at the site have alarmed conservationists, who warn that this ancient Roman city is dangerously exposed to the elements — and is poorly served by the red tape, the lack of strategic planning and the limited personnel of the site’s troubled management.
The site’s decline has captured the attention of the European Union, which began a $137 million effort in February that aims to balance preservation with accessibility to tourists. Read more.
More than 2,500 years after tiny infant bones were scattered, perhaps offhandedly, amid animal remains on the floor of an Etruscan workshop, recently-discovered fragments of those bones are causing a stir far beyond Italy’s Poggio Civitate Archaeological Project.
University of Massachusetts Amherst archaeologist Anthony Tuck recently told an Archaeological Institute America annual meeting in Seattle that the bones discovered in the ancient Etruscan town of Poggio Civitate were “simply either left on the floor of the workshop or ended up in an area with a heavy concentration of other discarded remains of butchered animals.”
It is an image that has, in ensuing weeks, resonated powerfully, if not always accurately, in the international press as everyone from religious fundamentalists to luridly invasive tabloids has scrambled to assemble narratives for the baby bones that might be either more or less appalling to modern sensibilities – narratives, notes Tuck, that tell us more about ourselves than they do about perinatal death in ancient Italy. Read more.