Known as Vada Volaterrana, it has been identified as a key port system located in present-day Tuscany, Italy, used anciently by the Romans of the city of Volaterrae (today’s Volterra) for the import and export of trade goods throughout the Mediterranean. The main harbor was located north of the mouth of the Cecina river, at S. Gaetano di Vada. Here, the University of Pisa has been excavating, since the 1980s, a significant commercial quarter that has yielded major structures and numerous artifacts that have testified to a facility built during the Augustan age but lasting through to the sixth-seventh centuries, C.E.
Currently led by Simonetta Menchelli of the Laboratory of Ancient Topography of the University of Pisa and Stephano Genovesi of the Archaeological Superintendences of Tuscany, Liguria and Sardinia, the team has uncovered two thermal baths, a large warehouse (horreum) with about 36 cells, a large water tank, a monumental fountain, and a building with three large apses, decorated with remarkable wall paintings and surrounding an open squared courtyard. Read more.
Two ancient artefacts have been withdrawn from auctions after suspicions were raised that they had been illegally smuggled out of Italy.
Christie’s had been due to sell a Greek glass jug thought to date from the 2nd-1st Century BC, while Bonham’s had listed a 3rd Century BC pottery box.
They were withdrawn after an antiquities expert identified them as having been sold by Italian smugglers.
The auction houses said they were working to check the items’ origins.
Dr Christos Tsirogiannis of the University of Cambridge’s Division of Archaeology identified the two items. Read more.
Italy says it will unblock 2m euros (£1.6m) in emergency funding to save the ancient city of Pompeii, after flooding caused walls to collapse.
A number of structures, including the Temple of Venus and Roma, were damaged by heavy rainfall on Sunday and Monday.
The decay prompted calls for action from the European Union and the United Nations.
The site, where volcanic ash smothered a Roman city in AD79, has suffered slow degradation for many years.
It is one of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures. Read more.
ROME — Italy’s culture minister demanded explanations on Sunday after more collapses this weekend in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii raised concerns about the state of one of the world’s most treasured archaeological sites.
Pompeii, preserved under ash from a volcanic eruption in 79 A.D. and rediscovered in the 18th century, has been hit by a series of collapses in recent months and years which have sparked international outcry over the neglect of the site.
Officials said the wall of a tomb around 1.7 meters (5.5 feet) high and 3.5 meters long collapsed in the necropolis of Porta Nocera in the early hours of Sunday. Read more.
Federal investigators on Friday plan to seize an ancient Roman sculpture from a Queens warehouse on behalf of Italian officials who say there is evidence the marble statue of a reclining, half-clad woman valued at $4 million was looted from Italy decades ago.
United States officials said that they began tracking the life-size, 1,700-pound statue last year after they were alerted that it had been exhibited for sale at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan by Phoenix Ancient Art.
In a complaint filed on Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn, the authorities said the sculpture had served as the lid on an 1,800-year-old sarcophagus of a Roman noblewoman, and was probably looted in the 1970s or early 1980s. Officials said they did not know when the statue entered the United States or where precisely it came from in Italy. Read more.
As Allied Forces fought the Nazis for control of Europe, an unlikely unit of American and British art experts waged a shadow campaign
Trapani! Trapani, don’t you see?” Capt. Edward Croft-Murray exclaimed as the skyline of the Sicilian coastal town first appeared through the porthole of the Allied aircraft. Sitting next to him, Maj. Lionel Fielden, who had been drifting off into daydream for much of the flight from Tunis, opened his eyes to the landscape below. “And there, below us,” Fielden later wrote, “swam through the sea a crescent of sunwashed white houses, lavender hillsides and rust red roofs, and a high campanile whose bells, soft across the water, stole to the mental ear. No country in the world has, for me, the breathtaking beauty of Italy.”
It was the fall of 1943. A couple of months earlier, the Sicilian landings of July 10 had marked the beginning of the Allied Italian campaign. The two British officers, who had met and become instant friends during the recently concluded push to drive the Germans from North Africa, were assigned to the Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories (AMGOT), which took over control of Italy as the country was being liberated by the Allies. Read more.
Once the “shame of Italy,” the ancient warren of natural caves in Matera may be Europe’s most dramatic story of rebirth
You know that travelers’ tastes have come full circle when hotel guests are clamoring to live like troglodytes. In the southern Italian town of Matera, I followed a sinuous laneway down into a haunting district known as the Sassi (Italian for the “stones”), where some 1,500 cave dwellings honeycomb the flanks of a steep ravine.
First occupied in the Paleolithic Age, the myriad natural caves were gradually burrowed deeper and expanded into living spaces by peasants and artisans throughout the classical and medieval eras. Today, these underground residences are being reinhabited by Italians, and staying in one of the Sassi’s cave hotels has become one of Europe’s most exotic new experiences. Read more.
Italy is demanding the immediate return of a cache of antiquities stored in London and warning that if it does not receive information about the status of the collection within 30 days, it may sue the firm responsible for the objects.
Italy’s state legal counsel was planning to send, this month, a final warning to the liquidator responsible for the assets of the disgraced antiquities dealer Robin Symes, who was declared bankrupt in 2003. Italy’s letter includes a detailed list of around 700 ancient objects, including sculptures and jewellery, that Italy is claiming because it believes they were taken from its territory illegally. The action is taking place amid rumours that the liquidator, the British firm BDO, is selling the material in the Middle East on behalf of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which is attempting to recoup tax owed by Symes’s firm, Robin Symes Ltd, which is now in liquidation. Read more.