(Reuters) - Collapsing walls at the ancient Roman city of Pompeii have raised fresh concerns about Italy’s efforts to maintain one of the world’s most treasured sites, preserved for 2,000 years but now crumbling from neglect.
On Monday, site officials said part of a wall had collapsed on one of Pompeii’s major streets after weeks of heavy rains and wind. Plaster had also fallen off the wall of the ornately frescoed House of the Small Fountain.
A series of collapses in Pompeii over the last month led Italian media to dub it a “Black November” for the ancient city, preserved under ash from a volcanic eruption in 79 A.D. and rediscovered in the 18th century, revealing a time capsule of daily life in Roman times. Read more.
British archeologists digging near Rome have built up an accurate picture of Portus, the once-mighty port that could host 350 ships at a time and kept the ravenous capital of the Roman empire supplied with grain, wine, oil, slaves and luxuries from around the world.
The team says it has also unravelled the mystery of how the site’s luxurious palace and huge warehouse vanished almost overnight, leaving no trace of the port’s scale and wealth.
Rather than being burned down by invading hordes as the empire declined, or left to disintegrate, a team lead by the University of Southampton has revealed that Portus was systematically demolished in the 6th century by the Byzantines – the eastern emperors who fought the invading Ostrogoths to regain control of Rome. Read more.
Armed with laser rangefinders, GPS technology and remote control robots, a group of speleologists is completing the first ever mapping of the aqueducts of ancient Rome on archaeology’s “final frontier”.
They abseil down access wells and clamber through crevices to access the 11 aqueducts that supplied Rome, which still run for hundreds of kilometres (miles) underground and along stunning viaducts.
The mission of these “speleo-archaeologists” is to update the last above-ground map of the network compiled at the beginning of the 20th century by British Roman archaeologist Thomas Ashby.
As he made his way through a perfectly preserved tunnel section of the Acqua Claudia on the grounds of a Franciscan convent in Vicovaro near Rome, Alfonso Diaz Boj said he was “proud” of the study. Read more.
When archaeologists work to understand an ancient civilization, they often use that civilization’s texts to get a clue as to how they saw themselves. But these people didn’t live in isolation. They traded; they invaded. They carried inventions and knowledge back and forth down the Silk Road, the Tea Road and Roman roads. They also, sometimes, wrote down what they thought of each other.
A few years ago, the University of Washington’s John E. Hill drafted an English copy of the Weilüe, a third century C.E. account of the interactions between the Romans and the Chinese, as told from the perspective of ancient China. “Although the Weilue was never classed among the official or ‘canonical’ histories, it has always been held in the highest regard by Chinese scholars as a unique and precious source of historical and geographical information,” says Hill. Read more.
Rome - Police have foiled ‘tomb raiders’ looting an ancient Roman archaeological site near the capital that was previously unknown to the Italian authorities, investigators said on Wednesday. The site is located near the ruins of a temple devoted to Juno ”The Saviour” at Lanuvio, in the Castelli Romani (Castles of Rome) - a cluster of towns southeast of Rome.
Investigators saved five marble elements from works of architecture, coins, the ruins of a number of buildings, and over 24,000 terracotta fragments attributable to the late Republican and imperial period. Investigators also found tools presumably being used for archaeological theft, including metal detectors, two-way radios. Read more.
Italian archaeologists have discovered a hidden tunnel beneath Hadrian’s Villa near Rome, part of a network of galleries and passageways that would have been used by slaves to discreetly service the sprawling imperial palace.
The newly-found tunnel was large enough to have taken carts and wagons, which would have ferried food, fire wood and other goods from one part of the sprawling palace to another.
The villa, at Tivoli, about 20 miles east of Rome, was built by Hadrian in the 2nd century AD and was the largest ever constructed in the Roman period.
It covered around 250 acres and consisted of more than 30 major buildings.
Although known as a villa, it was in fact a vast country estate which consisted of palaces, libraries, heated baths, theatres, courtyards and landscaped gardens. Read more.
ROME (Reuters) - Italian police have recovered a hoard of ancient Etruscan funerary urns and other treasures including bronze weapons which were originally found during building works and trafficked illegally.
Described by officials as one of the most important recoveries of Etruscan art ever, the haul included 23 funerary urns from a tomb complex in the area of modern Perugia belonging to an already-identified aristocratic family called the Cacni.
"It’s an extraordinary find," said Luigi Malnati, director general of antiquities at Italy’s culture ministry. "It’s of incredible historical importance in its own right and it helps reconstruct the context for these objects," he said. Read more.
An important new archaeological site was unveiled in Rome today. Located inside the area that belongs to the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls and its adjoining Benedictine Monastery, extensive digs have revealed what used to be the pumpkin patch tended to by the Benedictine Monks, and show that what today is a complex made up of the Basilica, Bell Tower, Cloister and adjoining Monastery, was once a much larger settlement with a sanctuary for the poor, a well, tower and housing for some 200 people.
While the meticulous work of archaeologists has revealed the layout of the ground and the kind of buildings that surrounded the ancient Basilica of St Paul’s outside the Walls, more than 15,000 ceramic fragments, sculptures and coins give an idea of what the people of the time and their everyday lives, were like. Read more.