ROME (AFP).- Archaeologists in Italy have uncovered a cemetery in the 2,700-year-old ancient port of Rome where they believe the variety of tombs found reflects the bustling town’s multi-cultural nature.
Ostia “was a town that was always very open, very dynamic,” said Paola Germoni, the director of the sprawling site — Italy’s third most visited after the Colosseum and Pompeii.”What is original is that there are different types of funeral rites: burials and cremations,” she said this week.
The contrasts are all the more startling as the tombs found are all from a single family — “in the Roman sense, in other words very extended”, Germoni said. Read more.
A sip of unpasteurized sheep or goat’s milk may have spelled doom for a medieval Italian man.
A new genetic analysis of bony nodules found in a 700-year-old skeleton from Italy reveal that the man had brucellosis, a bacterial infection caught from livestock, when he died. It’s not clear if the disease killed the man, but he likely would have suffered from symptoms such as chronic fatigue and recurring fevers, according to the researchers who analyzed the bones.
This medieval Italian man joins many other long-dead people in getting a postmortem diagnosis of brucellosis. Signs of the disease have been found in skeletons from the Bronze Age and earlier. In fact, the disease predates modern humans: In 2009, researchers reported possible signs of brucellosis in a specimen of the human ancestor Australopithecus africanus, who lived more than 2 million years ago. Read more.
If going gluten-free seems hard now, try doing it in ancient Rome. A well-heeled young woman with coeliac disease tried to adapt her diet in an unsuccessful effort to cope with gluten sensitivity, studies of her remains suggest.
The woman’s remains were buried in a 2,000-year-old tomb at the Cosa archaeological site on the Tuscan coast in Italy. The ancient Roman city’s economy depended on growing wheat and olives and was not particularly prosperous, yet archaeologists discovered gold and bronze jewellery entombed alongside the woman’s bones. They concluded that she was relatively wealthy and would have had access to plenty of food.
Yet the skeleton of the woman — who researchers estimate was 18–20 years old — bore signs of malnutrition and osteoporosis. Read more.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa hailed the return to his country of thousands of archaeological pieces from Italy, the European nation where he broadcast Saturday his traditional weekly activity report, which was retransmitted to this Andean country.
“Returning from Italy is the greatest return in history, more than 4,600 archaeological pieces,” Correa said, adding that the items being returned came largely from the Tolita culture.
The head of state said that these elements of national heritage were plundered from Ecuador because “there was no control,” so that “tens of thousands of archaeological pieces” were lost, but said that now, under his administration, “thousands of these pieces are coming back.” Read more.
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.