Category Archives: ITALY

16th-Century E. coli Sample Extracted from Italian Mummy

16th-Century E. coli Sample Extracted from Italian Mummy

16th-Century E. coli Sample Extracted from Italian Mummy
Researchers studied the mummified remains of an Italian nobleman. He died in 1586, from what is thought to be chronic gallbladder inflammation from gallstones. Division of Paleopathology of the University of Pisa

E. coli, short for Escherichia coli, has been among the most thoroughly studied bacteria since it was discovered in the 19th century, but researchers are only starting to understand its evolutionary history.

Now, for the first time, scientists have extracted the genetic code of a 400-year-old version of the pathogen from an Italian mummy.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Communications Biology, an international team of researchers analyzed the mummified remains of an Italian nobleman from the Renaissance period, whose well-preserved body was recovered along with other nobles in Naples, Italy, in 1983.

Giovani d’Avalos — the individual studied — was 48 when he died in 1586, from what is thought to be chronic gallbladder inflammation from gallstones.

“It was so stirring to be able to type this ancient E. coli,” Erick Denamur, who led the French research team that collaborated on the study, said in a statement.

While the genome was unique, Denamur said it was evolutionarily similar to bacteria that still cause gallstones today.

George Long, who co-authored the new study, identified and extracted the genetic code of E. coli from mummified remains.

While most strains of E. coli are harmless, some result in serious infections and make humans sick. But unlike smallpox, an infection with outward signs on the human body, like red spots on the skin, and E. coli infection is characterized by stomach problems and is not visible to the human eye.

“When we were examining these remains, there was no evidence to say this man had E. coli,” George Long, a graduate student at McMaster University and lead author of the new study, said in a press release. “No one knew what it was.”

Colorized 2006 scanning electron microscope image of E. coli bacteria.

“We were able to identify what was an opportunistic pathogen, dig down to the functions of the genome, and provide guidelines to aid researchers who may be exploring other, hidden pathogens,” Long said.

Long and the rest of the team hope understanding the genome of an ancestor to the modern version of E. coli will help future scientists unravel how the bacteria evolved over time.

Remains at Bronze Age Funeral Pyre in Italy Analyzed

Remains at Bronze Age Funeral Pyre in Italy Analyzed

A team of anthropologists studying Salorno, a stretch of scorched earth in northern Italy, say the site is a Late Bronze Age cremation platform where the remains of at least 172 individuals may have been burned. What’s more, the researchers believe the remains were simply left on the ground for the last 3,000 years.

Remains at Bronze Age Funeral Pyre in Italy Analyzed
The ustrinum at Salorno during excavations in 1987.

The site is called Salorno—Dos de la Forca, and it dates from 1150 BCE to 950 BCE. Besides the cremains (cremated remains) researchers found charred animal bone fragments, pottery shards, and bronze burial goods.

There was also a uniquely shaped boulder on the site (seen in the image above); it’s unknown whether it had any ceremonial purpose.

Though Salorno was first excavated in the 1980s, researchers only recently completed a bioanthropological analysis of the remains on the site. The team’s analysis was published last week in PLoS One.

“What is interesting at Salorno is that different from contemporary known cemeteries characterised by fields of cinerary urns or burials, this site appears as something very different: a pyre of dead bodies that were not selected for burial but intentionally left in the open, commingled with offerings and their own personal goods,” said Federica Crivellaro, a bioanthropologist at Stony Brook University and a co-author of the recent paper, in an email to Gizmodo.

“Salorno must have been a ‘sacred’ place for its community, in the way it was chosen but also protected from being looted or destroyed, but we cannot assess why exactly,” she added. “The fact that it serendipitously was preserved till today is simply very special.”

The site is a ustrinum, Latin for a cremation platform. Cremation was a widespread means of disposing of bodies in the Late Bronze age, but often the remains would be buried after they were burned.

At Salorno, they were simply left in situ, setting the site apart from other ustrina.

Tooth fragments from the site.

Crivellaro’s team looked at the number of human remains and calculated the likely number of individuals that were burned on the site at between 48 and 172, based on the total mass of the cremains. (The number of individuals represented at the site depends on whether all individuals were cremated and left in situ, or some bones were later buried elsewhere.)

In any case, the team knows the individuals were burned because of the bones’ condition (specific cracks in the fragments indicate heat-induced trauma) as well as their white colour (a shade distinct from ordinary, hydrated bones), which suggests the pyre temperatures may have exceeded 1292° Fahrenheit (700° C). The site was used over a couple of centuries, judging from the style of grave goods and pottery found on the site.

Because the individuals at Salorno were burned, it’s difficult to discern whether they were all related genetically.

“Cremated human remains are never sexy for traditional physical anthropology as they are fragmented, deformed, and skeletons and teeth are normally depleted of DNA,” Crivellaro said.

But based on the quality of the goods, and the sizes of contemporary settlements in the area, the team posited that the individuals burned and left in Salorno may have been a small number of nuclear families or a group of local elites.

Though the researchers don’t know who started the fire, they know it burned for about 200 years and incinerated nearly 50 people at a minimum in that time. ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ takes on a new meaning when the remains are left right where they were burned; if not fodder for worms, the remains are great fodder for archaeologists.

Pompeii victim’s genome successfully sequenced for the first time

Pompeii victim’s genome successfully sequenced for the first time

The genome of a victim of the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius over the ancient city of Pompeii has been sequenced for the first time, scientists have revealed, shedding new light on the health and diversity of those who lived in the Roman empire at the time of the disaster.

Pompeii victim’s genome successfully sequenced for the first time
Although the experts sequenced DNA from a man and a woman, they were only able to sequence the entire genome from the man’s remains.

In a study published in Scientific Reports on Thursday, a team led by Gabriele Scorrano, an assistant professor of geogenetics at the University of Copenhagen, extracted DNA from two victims, a man and a woman, whose remains were found in the House of the Craftsman in Pompeii, a Domus that was first excavated in 1914.

Although the experts sequenced DNA from both victims, they were only able to sequence the entire genome from the man’s remains due to gaps in the sequences obtained from the woman.

Before this study, only short stretches of mitochondrial DNA from human and animal remains found in Pompeii had been sequenced.

The two individuals were found in the House of the Craftsman in Pompeii.

The man was aged between 35 and 40 when he was killed in the violent eruption of Vesuvius in AD79. Comparisons of his DNA with genetic codes obtained from 1,030 ancient humans, as well as 471 modern western Eurasian individuals, suggested his DNA shared the most similarities with modern individuals from central Italy and those who lived during the ancient Roman period.

Analysis of his mitochondrial and Y chromosome DNA also identified groups of genes commonly found in Sardinia, but not among those who lived in Italy during the empire, suggesting there may have been high levels of genetic diversity across the Italian peninsula at that time.

Further analysis of the man’s skeleton also identified lesions in one of the vertebrae and DNA sequences suggested he may have had tuberculosis before his death.

The female was aged over 50 and believed to have been affected by osteoarthritis.

“This could have been the reason for which they waited for it all to finish, maybe in the security of their home, compared to other victims who were fleeing and whose remains were found in open spaces,” said Serena Viva, an anthropologist at the University in Salento who was on the study’s team.

The scientists speculated it may have been possible to successfully recover ancient DNA from the man’s remains as pyroclastic materials released during the eruption could have provided protection from environmental factors that degrade DNA, such as atmospheric oxygen.

The Pompeii ruins were discovered in the 16th century, with the first excavations beginning in 1748. About 1,500 of the estimated 2,000 victims have been found over the centuries. Excavations in 2020 of a villa in on what would have been the outskirts of the ancient city revealed the remains of two men, believed to be a master and his slave.

The scientists said the findings confirmed the possibility of retrieving ancient DNA from other victims of Pompeii to provide further insight into their genetic history.

“In the future, many more genomes from Pompeii can be studied,” said Viva. “The victims of Pompeii experienced a natural catastrophe, a thermal shock, and it was not known that you could preserve their genetic material.

This study provides this confirmation, and that new technology on genetic analysis allows us to sequence genomes also on damaged material.”

Tomb Saviors: Two Giants Found In Ancient Graveyard Could Have Been Body Guards

Tomb Saviors: Two Giants Found In Ancient Graveyard Could Have Been Body Guards

Giant statues crafted more than 3,000 years ago could have been guardians of an ancient graveyard, say experts. The mysterious Bronze Age giants were found at a necropolis near Mont’e Prama in Cabras, a small town in the western part of the island of Sardinia.

Dated to between the 11th and 8th centuries BC, these giants – or Kolossoi – are the oldest human-shaped sculptures found in the Mediterranean.

Experts say they are younger than ancient Egyptian statues but older than Greek kouroi statues dating from the 7th century BC.

Tomb Saviors: Two Giants Found In Ancient Graveyard Could Have Been Body Guards
The excavation campaign began on April 4, 2022, on Mont’e Prama in Cabras, Sardinia.

The new finds will be added to discoveries first made in 1974. The more recent excavations recovered 5,000 pieces, which include 15 heads and 22 torsos. Fully rebuilt, the statues measure 2.5 meters tall – or just over 8 feet.

The figures and other sculptures were carved in native grainy limestone.

The giants resemble others recovered in 2014, known as “boxers” for the curved shields each bears on the left arm. Italy’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini said: “An exceptional discovery, which will be followed by others, which has no equal in the Mediterranean.”

Franceschini said of the statues: “Two new jewels are thus added to this statuary group with a mysterious charm, capable of attracting the attention of the whole world.”

An aerial view of the excavation sector in progress of the excavation campaign that began April 4, 2022, of Mont’e Prama in Cabras, Sardinia.

Expert Alessandro Usai, who has been digging at the site since 2014, said: “In particular, the two torsos found with the elongated shield that takes on a slightly enveloping shape with respect to the left arm and which flattens on the belly bring the findings back to the category of boxers.”

According to archaeologist Monica Stochino, who participated in the dig: “While the small and medium-sized fragments are brought to light daily, documented in situ on the ground and recovered, the two large and heavy blocks of the torsos will need time to be freed from the earth around them…”

She added that work remains to completely excavate the site, remove the artefacts, and ultimately exhibit them. The limestone used by the ancients was easily carved, but fragile, thus making transportation and restoration difficult. The Nuragic civilization of Sardinia lasted from about the 18th century BC until Roman colonization in 238 BC.

Part of the torso of the statue was found during the excavation campaign that began April 4, 2022, of Mont’e Prama in Cabras, Sardinia.

The name Nuragic refers to Sardinia’s most characteristic monument, the 7,000 circular stone “nuraghe” forts built across the island, which bear silent witness to the ancient people who left no written records.

The ancient Greeks and Romans later wrote mythical accounts about the Nuragic people. Nuragic people may have navigated elsewhere in the Mediterranean, ranging from what is now modern-day Spain and its islands, to mainland Italy, Crete, and even Israel. The Carthaginians from North Africa also lived on the island and may have dominated the Nuragic people. Their tombs and monuments include standing stones resembling Britain’s Stonehenge, as well as megalithic tombs known as dolmens, which are also found elsewhere in Europe.

The bronze statue of Cavaluo, which gives its name to the southern necropolis of Mont’e Prama.

Mont’e Prama, where the new statues were found, is a necropolis or cemetery dating from the end of the 9th century to the first half of the 8th century that features a funerary road. It shows three phases: the first consists of simple tombs where bodies were inhumed; a second featuring grouped tombs each covered by rough stone slabs; and a third in which perfectly-aligned tombs are covered with square slabs.

The giant statues were shattered in ancient times and then deposited on top of or next to the tombs. While the stone was quarried nearby, it is not known where the statues were originally erected before ending up at the necropolis. Some experts believe they were used to mark off a sacred space, while others assert they were placed on slabs covering the tombs.

Opinions also differ over their destruction, with some experts asserting it came because of internal strife among the Nuragic peoples, while others blame Phoenicians of nearby Tharros on the Sinis peninsula.

Yet another theory proposes that the statues were demolished by Carthaginians, during the much later second half of the 4th century BC.

The best-reserved statue was found in 2014.

The statues appear to be warriors or “boxers,” and may represent Nuragic ancestors, gods, or mythical heroes, while Mont’e Prama may have been a heroon or hero-shrine where they were worshipped.

As evidence that it was a place for honouring heroes, Usai noted that among the 170 tombs, there were none with the remains of children or elderly people. There were very few women buried at the necropolis, which appeared to be almost exclusively reserved for young men. Stochino explained that the research addressed two main objectives: “To confirm the extension of the monumental arrangement of the area with the definition of the funerary road and the creation of the sculptural complex made up of statues, models of nuraghe and betyls.”

According to the experts, the model nuraghe may have represented community identity or solidarity. Betyls or baetylus are sacred stones that some ancient cultures believed either gave access to their gods or were actually endowed with life. The word comes from the Semitic ‘bet el’, or ‘house of the god’, in much the same way as the biblical Bethel does.

As to the identity of the giants, and their purpose and fragmentation, Usai said that he leans to the conclusion that the statues were victims of a “natural” destruction, even while he granted that further investigation based on data may eventually uncover the mystery.

These Ancient Greek Helmets Tell of a Naval Battle 2,500 Years Ago

These Ancient Greek Helmets Tell of a Naval Battle 2,500 Years Ago

Archaeologists in southern Italy announced last week that they unearthed two helmets, fragments of weapons and armour, bits of pottery and the remains of a possible temple to Athena at an archaeological excavation of the ancient Greek city of Velia, reports Frances D’Emilio for the Associated Press (AP).

These Ancient Greek Helmets Tell of a Naval Battle 2,500 Years Ago
Chalcidian helmets such as this one were often worn by ancient Greek warriors.

Researchers, who have been working at the site since last July, announced in a translated statement that they believe that these artefacts are linked to a major maritime battle that changed the balance of power in the Mediterranean nearly 2,500 years ago.

Ancient Greeks may have left the items behind after the Battle of Alalia. Between 541 and 535 BCE, a fleet of Phocaean ships—who had set up a colony, Alalia, on the island of Corsica—set sail on the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea to fend off attacks from neighbouring Etruscan and Carthaginian forces, per the statement.

An archaeologist works to free one of the helmets from the dig site.

Though the Greeks emerged victoriously, the costly sea battle ultimately spurred the Phocaean colonists to leave Alalia and establish a colony closer to other Greek settlements along the southern coast of Italy.

Settlers from Phocaea sailed for the mainland and purchased a plot of land that would eventually become Velia, according to the Guardian.

Initial studies of the helmets reveal that one was designed in the Greek Chalcidian style, while the other helmet resembles the Negua headpieces typically worn by Etruscan warriors, per ANSA. 

The archaeologists suggest Greek soldiers might have stolen these helmets from conquered Etruscan troops during the Battle of Alalia, per the statement.

An aerial view of the dig site at the acropolis of Velia, an ancient Greek colony in present-day southern Italy that was founded shortly after the Battle of Alalia.

In another major find, researchers also unearthed several brick walls that date to Velia’s founding in 540 B.C.E. and may have once formed a temple to the mythical Greek goddess of war and wisdom, Athena, as Angela Giuffrida reports for the Guardian.

Measuring about 60 feet long by 23 feet wide, the walls were likely constructed in the years just following the Battle of Alalia, says Massimo Osanna, the archaeological park director and head of Italian state museums, per Italian news agency ANSA. The archaeologists say the Phocaeans may have offered the enemy armour as a tribute to the goddess.

Archaeologists unearthed two helmets including one, pictured here, that appears to be created in the Etruscan “Negua” style. Experts suggest that Greek soldiers might have stolen this piece of armour from Etruscan forces during the Battle of Alalia.

“It is, therefore, possible that the [Phocaeans] fleeing from Alalia raised [the temple] immediately after their arrival, as was their custom, after purchasing from the locals the land necessary to settle and resume the flourishing trade for which they were famous,” says Osanna in the translated statement. “And to the relics offered to their goddess to propitiate her benevolence, they added the weapons snatched from the enemies in that epic battle at sea.”

Located near the structure, the team found fragments of pottery inscribed with the Greek word for “sacred,” several pieces of bronze and metal weapons and bits of what appears to be a large, decorated shield.

Researchers plan to clean and analyse the artefacts in a laboratory for further study, where the director says they hope to find more information, particularly on the helmets.

She says in that statement that there may be inscriptions inside of them, something common in ancient armour, that could help trace the armour’s history, such as the identity of the warriors who wore them.

Two more Giants were discovered at Mont’e Prama

Two more Giants were discovered at Mont’e Prama

The powerful torsos of two boxers, a large flexible shield that covers the stomach and envelops an arm; then ahead, legs and other body parts – just days after the resumption of the latest excavation campaign, the Mont’e Prama Nuragic necropolis at Cabras has yielded the remains of two new monumental statues. 

They are two giants that join the army of warriors and boxers that are still shrouded in mystery and have made the Sardinian archaeological site famous all over the world.

Superintendent Monica Stochino told ANSA that the discovery was truly “important” and bodes well for more surprises in the coming weeks.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini expressed enthusiasm too and recalled that the find has taken place just under a year after the birth of a foundation for the site featuring the culture ministry, the Cabras town council and the Sardinian regional government.

“It’s an exceptional discovery and others will follow,” he commented.

The field study, which began on April 4, has confirmed that the necropolis stretches southwards and there is a major burial road flanking the tombs.

“It is evidence for us that we are on the right road,” stressed Alessandro Usai, the archaeologist who has been the scientific director of the excavation since 2014.

The two new giants have different characteristics from the boxers uncovered at the site in the middle of the 1970s after the accidental discovery of this incredible place, Usai explained.

He said they are of the “Cavalupo” type, like the last two uncovered in 2014, not far from the current dig, distinguished by their very distinctive curved shield.

“It is a rare figure in the model of the Nuragic bronze statuette conserved in the Etruscan Museum in Villa Giulia in Rome,” said the archaeologist, referring to the little masterpiece that came from a tomb at the Cavalupo necropolis at Vulci, in Lazio.

Careful examination, cleaning and the removal of the two large torsos – which will take time due to the particular fragility of the limestone they are sculpted from – is certain to provide new elements of study.

Stochino said that the new intervention, financed by the archaeology, fine arts and landscape superintendency for the metropolitan city of Cagliari and the provinces of Oristano and South Sardinia with a gross figure of 85,000 euros, comes ahead of an another bigger one of 600,000 euros involving the regional secretariat of the culture ministry.

This is on top of the 2.8-million-euro project to restore everything that was discovered between 2014 and 2016 in order to put the new statues on show along with the others at the Cabras Museum.

It is a team effort that involves a variety of professional figures and universities working alongside the superintendency and the foundation – anthropologists, restorers and architects, as well as archaeologists. They will all work together to find answers to the historical problems raised by this special cemetery from 3,000 years ago, built along a burial road and reserved almost exclusive for young men, said Usai, explaining that “elderly and children are almost completely missing” and there are very few women in the 170 tombs studies so far.

A great deal of mystery remains about this site, which was started around the 12th century BC, and the giants, which experts date between the 11th and 8th centuries BC, as well as about their end.

Who were these colossal, two-metre-high pieces of stone – ancient custodians of a sacred area, representations of the social functions of the buried, heroes, ancestors or identity symbols of a community? And why had they fallen down and been reduced to rubble on the tombs they were meant to watch over? Was their end the consequence of a fight between local communities or was it down to the Carthaginians? Usai said that he was inclined towards another hypothesis, that of “natural” destruction.

“My opinion is that the giants fell down one at a time on their own, as the way they were made was overbalanced forwards,” he said The passage of time, the movements of the earth and the cultivations of this stretch of land, which has always been precious for wheat crops, would have done the rest, The archaeologist concluded that it is necessary to go beyond stereotypes.

“Here we are seeking answers based on facts,” he said.

Who knows? Perhaps the new period of research will produce decisive discoveries.

Child mummies in Sicily’s Capuchin Catacombs to be X-rayed

Child mummies in Sicily’s Capuchin Catacombs to be X-rayed

The mummified and skeletal remains of more than 160 children lie preserved in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo in northern Sicily, and soon, scientists hope to uncover some of the mysteries surrounding their lives and deaths using X-ray technology.

Child mummies in Sicily's Capuchin Catacombs to be X-rayed
The Capuchin Catacombs are located in Palermo, Sicily.

The catacombs contain at least 1,284 mummified and skeletonized corpses of varying ages, according to the new research project’s website.

The catacombs were in use from the late 1590s to 1880, although two additional bodies were buried there in the early 20th century, according to the Palermo Catacombs website

The upcoming investigation, funded by the U.K.’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, will be the first to exclusively focus on children housed in the underground crypts and corridors.

Specifically, the investigators will examine child mummies that were buried in the catacombs between 1787 and 1880, and they’ll begin by X-raying the 41 mummies housed in the crypts’ “children’s room,” or “child chapel,” The Guardian reported.

“We will take a portable X-ray unit and take hundreds of images of the children from different angles,” Kirsty Squires, the project’s principal investigator and an associate professor of bioarchaeology at Staffordshire University in the U.K., told The Guardian.

The team hopes to better understand the children’s identities and health statuses, as well as examine cultural artefacts such as the garb they were buried in, she said.

The researchers will use X-rays to determine each child’s sex and age, as well as reveal any signs of developmental defects or disease.

These findings will be compared with each child’s clothing, associated funerary artefacts and their placement within the chapel, as well as the method of mummification that was used to preserve them, according to the project website.

The team will also utilize death records they have from the time, although these contain limited information, such as the deceased’s names and dates of death.

Together, these clues should provide an insight into the identities, health and lifestyles of children who were mummified in 18th- and 19th-century Palermo. At the time, being turned into a mummy was a “status symbol” and “a way to preserve status and dignity even in death,” according to the Palermo Catacombs website.

When first built in the late 1590s, the Capuchin Catacombs were used as a private burial site for friars. But in 1783, the Capuchin order began allowing laypeople in the region to be buried there as well, the catacombs website said. And by making a donation to the order, families could pay to have their deceased relatives mummified and put on display in the catacombs.

Corpses could be mummified in one of three ways: through natural mummification, where the bodies were allowed to completely dehydrate in a special room called the “colatoio;” through a process that involved bathing the bodies in arsenic; or by the chemical embalming of the bodies, when a trained person injects the corpse with preservatives. 

These processes could create astonishingly well-preserved mummies. Regarding the soon-to-be-scanned child mummies, “Some of them are superbly preserved,” Dario Piombino-Mascali, co-investigator for the project and scientific curator of the Capuchin Catacombs, told The Guardian. “Some really look like sleeping children. They are darkened by the time but some of them have got even fake eyes so they seem to be looking at you. They look like tiny little dolls.”

Read more about the Palermo juvenile mummy project in The Guardian

‘Theodoric the Great’ villa mosaic found near Verona in Italy

‘Theodoric the Great’ villa mosaic found near Verona in Italy

A section of the ancient Roman mosaic flooring from the 5th century AD villa of Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great has been discovered near the northern Italian city of Verona.

The mosaic was found during digging to replace gas pipes at Montorio outside Verona. There is no direct evidence, but given the extent and wealth of finds, it is reasonable to think that it was a villa referring to the emperor Theodoric or the highest-ranking prime minister of his collaborators.

If it wasn’t Theodoric’s villa, it must have belonged to someone of enormous wealth who was very close to him.

“Bits of mosaic, thermal facilities, and residential complexes have been emerging in a scattered way at Montorio over the past decades and it is now time to systematize them,” said Verona cultural heritage superintendent Vincenzo Tinè.

‘Theodoric the Great’ villa mosaic found near Verona in Italy

Theodoric was not technically a Roman emperor. He was three different varieties of the king, though, starting in 475 A.D. as King of the Ostrogoths, then adding King of Italy in 493 and of the Visigoths in 511.

By the time of his death in 526, Though Theodoric himself only used the title ‘king’ (rex), some scholars characterize him as a Western Roman Emperor in all but name, since he ruled large parts of the former Western Roman Empire, had received the former Western imperial regalia from Constantinople in 497 and was referred to by the title Augustus by some of his subjects.

Theodoric reigned over most of what had been the Western Roman Empire. He spent his childhood as a noble hostage at the imperial court in Constantinople and was educated there in the Eastern Roman tradition.

As ruler of the combined Gothic realms, Theodoric controlled an empire stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Adriatic Sea.

Theodoric promoted the rebuilding of Roman cities and the preservation of ancient monuments in Italy.

He instituted a vast program of reconstruction of Roman cities and infrastructure, restoring ancient aqueducts, baths, churches, the Aurelian walls of Rome, and the defensive walls of myriad other cities in Italy.

He threw in a few new palaces for himself while he was at it, most famously in his capital of Ravenna, but also in other northern Italian cities like Verona.

The mosaic will remain in place. It will be cleaned and documented in detail before being reburied.

Some local residents have proposed covering it with plexiglass so that the mosaic is still visible, something that has already been done in the historic centre of Verona, but this mosaic is in a terribly awkward position, trapped under networks of old pipes surrounded by houses so is unfortunately not a good candidate for display.