Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Update on Daunian stele in Emilia-Romagna

Last year, it was reported that excavation for a shopping center on the outskirts of Cattolica in Emilia-Romagna had turned up a 6th century BCE Daunian stele [Soprintendenza BA dell'E-R, Archeoblog]. Lithographic and pollen analyses now prove its origin in the area of Manfredonia in the Tavoliere of Puglia, as expected for such monuments. The Soprintendenza reports that it was not found in situ, but is probably to be connected with illegal landfills in the area, dumped in the 1960s or 70s; the stone appears to bear the mark of an excavator arm [].

Monday, December 29, 2008

7th Century BCE Necropolis at Spoleto, Umbria

Rescue excavations in Spoleto (PG), Umbria, have turned up tombs dating from the 7th and early 6th centuries BCE. The ten inhumation pit graves were discovered in advance of the construction of 18 housing units in the Piazza d'Armi [Google Maps].

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Some notes on the votive deposit at Campoverde

There seems to be some confusion. There's been a lot of coverage (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, IGN/Adnkronos, GMA News/AP, Winston-Salem Journal/AP, Discovery Channel, etc.; blogs: ArchaeoBlog, ArchaeoBlog (again), Archaeology in Europe, Looting Matters, Rogue Classicism, Tria Corda, Tria Corda (again), etc.) of the votive deposit apparently dug up by a farmer in Campoverde near Aprilia in Lazio. The site, at a certain 'Laghetto del Monsignore', dates to the 7th-6th centuries BCE, and was unknown to the scientific world ("sconosciuto al mondo scientifico": thus MiBAC; some sources add a gratuitous "assolutamente"). And yet...

A votive deposit was discovered at the spring of Laghetto del Monsignore, on the Via Mediana in Campoverde, in 1968 (Fulminante 2003: 226, note 409, with references). And, in 1977-1978...
"...the Archaeological Soprintendenza per il Lazio rescued a fair quantity of miniature and normal sized ancient artefacts from a small lake with a spring at its heart, today called the 'Laghetto del Monsignore'. These artefacts, mostly ceramic vessels but also a few bronze sheet figurines, fibulae, glass and amber pearls, constitutes probably only a very small portion of a much larger quantity of ancient votive objects dedicated at the spring. The spring at Campoverde must be considered an open votive deposit, the gifts were directly thrown into the water and they remained there for a long time as can be concluded from the streaks of scale (limonite) on the little pots. The spring may be called a 'deposito volontari' or favissa. At the moment of the rescue-excavation the area already had been illegally plundered, but still a few hundred small votive vessels could be stored. Today, only the here published miniatures are available for further study because robbers struck again in the storerooms of the Soprintendenza per il Lazio at Tivoli." (Kleibrink 1997: 441)
This must be the same spring-fed lake with the same name and the same types and dates of finds -- and apparently the same problems with looting. None of the sources I've seen on the latest, 2008, operation mention the earlier discovery or its circumstances, at least directly. The Discovery article's lede hints at it
—"Italian police have found the long-sought 'treasure of Satricum' in a farmer's bookshelf"—but goes no further. I don't know what, if anything, came of the earlier robbery, or whether the objects retrieved in the farmer's cabinet are to be understood as the material robbed in 1978 and thus "long-sought".


Crescenzi, L. 1978. "Campoverde." Archeologia Laziale 1:51-55 [non vidi]

Fulminante, F. 2003. Le sepolture principesche nel Latium Vetus.

Guidi, A., 1980 "Luoghi di Culto dell'Et
à del Bronzo Finale e della Prima Età del Ferro nel Lazio Meridionale." Archeologia Laziale 3:148-155. [non vidi]

Kleibrink, M. 1997. "
The miniature votive pottery dedicated at the 'Laghetto del Monsignore', Campoverde." Palaeohistoria 1997-1998, vol. 39-40, pp. 441-512 (abstract).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Italian Updates, December 19, 2008

From MiBAC, more on the illegal excavations in the sanctuary at Campoverde near Aprilia in Lazio, with photos and a video slide-show (~2 min., no sound) of the looted landscape, plus a video segment from a local news station. At the same press conference, the Carabinieri displayed the recovered marble heads that had been stolen from an apartment in Rome while its residents were drugged, as well as a mosaic from the catacombs of St. Domitilla that somebody had tried to sell on an online auction site. Of note: between January 1 and September 30, there were 53 illegal excavations discovered in Italy, or almost six a month -- and that's not counting the ones that haven't yet been, or won't be, discovered.

At Cattolica in Emilia-Romagna, there's an exhibit of artifacts (right) from a 3rd century BCE deposit discovered in 2004 at the mouth of the Tavollo during the construction of a new dock. The exhibit, "VETUS LITUS. Archeologia della foce. Una discarica di materiali ceramici del III secolo a.C. alla darsena di Cattolica lungo il Tavollo," will run from 19 December 2008 to 3 May 2009 at three locations in Cattolica: the Museo della Regina, the Galleria Comunale S. Croce, and the Sala Lavatoio.

John Muccigrosso blogs a newly cleaned and identified silver quinarius of Marc Antony from the Drew excavations in Umbria this past summer.

In Ruvo di Puglia yesterday, there was a conference on the topic of the famous Tomb of the Dancers discovered in that city in 1833 (and accordingly now to be found in the National Museum in Naples), with a presentation by Dr. Giuseppina Gadaleta, who wrote a book on the subject in 2002.

Finally, it seems there's some connection between live presepi (Nativity scenes) and ancient tombs this year. In Canosa, the D'Ambra Hypogeum will be open to the public during the presepe vivente; in Sutri, the actors will actually be inside the Etruscan tombs (seen below) near the amphitheater...

CC: Originally uploaded to flickr
by sunshinecity

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Italian Updates

Some 4th century BCE coins from Hyria and Nola have found a home in the Nola Museum, seven years after being donated by an American. Among the 15 silver coins are five didrachms, two each from Hyria and Nola, and one from Neapolis.

(More of) a Late Antique mosaic has been discovered in the crypt of the cathedral of Reggio Emilia. The polychrome mosaic extends over 13 square meter and dates between the 4th and 5th centuries CE.
[from Archaeogate]

A farmer in Lazio has been arrested for trying to sell off antiquities [see photo above] he dug up from a 7th-6th century BCE sanctuary near Aprilia, south of Rome.

[JournalNow, AdnKronos]

The discovery of the Greek necropolis at Himera has hit the Anglophone news.
[National Geographic]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Italian Antiquities Bust in Geneva

The Cultural Heritage Protection unit of the Carabinieri has confiscated 974 objects in two warehouses in Geneva. The pieces date between the 7th century BCE and the 4th century CE and come from Apulia, Lazio, Sardinia, and Magna Graecia. They include five loutrophoroi, a squatting Venus in Parian marble, 30 volute kraters and two bronze hydriae. The total value of the objects was estimated at € 25 million. The smuggling ring, based in Liechtenstein, had been operating since the mid 1990s, and was managed by a Swiss citizen and a Japanese national resident in England, both of whom have been arrested for receiving and exporting antiquities.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Apulia-Spain Antiquities Smuggling Route Exposed

The Cultural Heritage Protection branch of the Carabinieri, in conjunction with its Spanish counterpart, has exposed an antiquities trafficking route leading from clandestine excavations in Puglia, in the provinces of Bari and Foggia, via Valencia, Spain, to enter the market in a collaborating gallery in Barcelona.

Among the pieces seized in Barcelona and Valencia are a 1.00 m high marble torso and 131 ceramics, including red-figure bell kraters, hydriae, lekythoi, volute kraters, askoi, skyphoi, kylikes, and terracotta statuettes, the lot valued at €1,000,000. (The list also includes something called an 'asphageon,' which neither I nor anyone else currently in the vicinity can make sense of -- ideas?)

[Info and image from MIBAC]

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Another Etruscan DNA Study...

David Meadows at rogueclassicism points us to yet another article studying the DNA of those ever-enigmatic (sigh) "Etruscans" and attempting to show links to Anatolia:

F. Brisighelli et al., The Etruscan timeline: a recent Anatolian connection
European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 3 December 2008; doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2008.224

I will make just a couple of comments on the short report. They sampled the mitochondrial DNA of 258 modern Tuscans (from Arezzo, Chiusi, Collevecchio, Elba, Magliano Sabina, Monte Fiascone, Pitigliano, Tarquinia, Tuscania, and Vulci), of which 63 were "compatible with typical Near Eastern haplogroups," "show[ed] ambiguous haplogroup affiliation," or could provide "some phylogeographic information at the control region level." Only in the title and the historical introduction, referencing Herodotus, do the authors draw any specifically Anatolian connection; the science simply indicates the presence of haplogroups with generally Near Eastern counterparts. I guess Anatolia is an inference from the Father of Lies?

Brisighelli et al. point out a relatively high frequency of "the typical Near Eastern U7 haplogroup" in the samples from Elba. Within these samples they identify a new sub-branch of the U7a2 haplogroup, which haplogroup is known from only two other individuals, a Pakistani and an Andalusian. The amount of variation in this new sub-branch, U7a2a, is then used to calculate the arrival of a single founder on the island in the range 1.1plusminus0.1 to 2.3plusminus0.4 kya B.P., that is, 450 BCE plusminus400 years to 850 CE plusminus 100 years. This elicited David's comment, "... not sure about the dating there; even on the 'outside' end, it seems a bit short, no?" The authors suggest that this is "compatible with the Etrurian culture (9th-1st century BC)." Intensive working of the Elban mines began in the 6th century BCE; I don't know much about the earlier history of the island. But with a time span as wide as that, it seems just as probable that the haplogroup founder on Elba was a Byzantine or a Saracen... and that's all I'm going to say about that.

The Italic APA, 2009

The 2009 Philadelphia APA Program (pdf) is now available. As expected, it looks like slim pickins for the Italicist...


11:15 A.M. – 1:15 P.M. SECTION 10 Grand Ballroom K
Greek Religion
Rick Hamilton, Presider

3. Mary R. Bachvarova, Willamette University
The Transmission of Liver Divination from the Near East to Greece and Italy (15 mins.)


11:15 A.M. – 1:15 P.M. SECTION 14 Independence II
Greek and Latin Linguistics
Sponsored by the Society for the Study of Greek and Latin Languages
Jeremy Rau and Benjamin Fortson IV, Organizers
1. Rebecca Sears, University of Michigan
Old Latin Stress in the Scipio Epitaphs: An Alternate Accentual Scansion (30 mins.)

1:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M. SECTION 38 Independence I
The Etruscan Objects Speak: New Linguistic and Socio-Historical Approaches to
Etruscan Epigraphy
Joint APA/AIA Session
Hilary Becker and Rex Wallace, Organizers

1. Rex Wallace, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Alphabet, Orthography, and Paleography at Poggio Civitate (Murlo) (15 mins.)
2. Enrico Benelli, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Inscriptions on Tiles from Chiusi: Archaeological and Epigraphical Notes (15 mins.)
3. Margaret Watmough & Judith Swaddling, The British Museum
Surveying the Etruscan Inscriptions on Objects in the British Museum’s Collections (15 mins.)
4. Hilary Becker, The College of William and Mary
Public, Private, and Clan Property in Etruria (15 mins.)
5. Gary Farney, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
Lucumo to Lucius: Etruscans with Both Etruscan and Latin Names on Bilingual Inscriptions from
Etruria (15 mins.)
Larissa Bonfante, New York University

7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. Reception Sponsored by the Etruscan Foundation


1:45 P.M. – 4:15 P.M. SECTION 59 Independence II
Coins and Identity
Sponsored by the Friends of Numismatics
Jane DeRose Evans, Organizer

1. Rabun Taylor, The University of Texas at Austin
Their Neighbor’s Keeper: A Neapolitan Coin for Capua (15 mins.)