Category Archives: ITALY

A 48,000 years old tooth that belonged to one of the last Neanderthals in Northern Italy

A 48,000 years old tooth that belonged to one of the last Neanderthals in Northern Italy

A milk tooth belonging to one of Italy’s last Neanderthal children has been found near Venice.  The canine tooth belonged to a pre-teen, likely 11 or 12 years old, and dates back 45,000 years.

Neanderthals went extinct around 40,000 years ago after being out-competed for food and shelter by the more intelligent Homo sapiens.  The tooth would have been in the upper row of teeth on the right-hand side of the child’s mouth. 

It was discovered in a rock shelter at an archaeological site called ‘Riparo del Broion’ on the Berici Hills in the Veneto region, near Venice. The tooth is the first-ever human remain to be found at the site. 

Genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA preserved inside the tooth, as well as analysis of the enamel and shape, reveal it is from a Neanderthal and not a Homo sapien.  

Matteo Romandini, lead author of the study at the University of Bologna says: ‘High-resolution prehistoric field-archaeology allowed us to find the tooth, then we employed virtual approaches to the analyses of its shape, genome, taphonomy and of its radiometric profile. 

An upper canine milk-tooth (pictured) that belonged to a Neanderthal child, aged 11 or 12, that lived between 48,000 and 45,000 years ago was found in Northern Italy
Neanderthals (pictured, artist’s impression) went extinct around 40,000 years ago after millennia of struggling to compete with the superior intelligence of Homo sapiens which had recently arrived in Europe.

‘Following this process, we could identify this tooth as belonging to a child that was one of the last Neanderthals in Italy.’

Mitochondrial DNA is similar to normal DNA, except it is smaller and stored in the mitochondria, the powerhouses of human cells, not the nucleus. 

The milk tooth was discovered in a rock shelter at an archaeological site called ‘Riparo del Broion’ on the Berici Hills in the Veneto region, near Venice. The tooth is the first-ever human remain to be found at the site

It is also inherited only from the mother and therefore paints a picture of maternal heredity.  The owner of this tooth had a mother who was descended from Neanderthals that had lived in Belgium, the DNA revealed. 

‘This small tooth is extremely important’, says Stefano Benazzi, professor at the University of Bologna and research coordinator. 

‘This is even more relevant if we consider that, when this child who lived in Veneto lost their tooth, Homo Sapiens communities were already present a thousand kilometers away in Bulgaria’. 

The early findings are published in the Journal of Human Evolution and researchers are still delving through the other findings the archaeological site has revealed.

For example, there are many signs of hunting and that the site was used to butcher large animals. 

‘The manufacturing of tools, mainly made of flint, shows Neanderthals’ great adaptability and their systematic and specialized exploitation of the raw materials available in this area’, adds Marco Peresanti, a professor of the University of Ferrara who contributed to the study. 

Neanderthals first arrived in Europe around 350,000 years ago and lived without rivals until around 45,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens first ventured into Eurasia. 

When Homo sapiens — modern humans — moved into Europe they hunted the same animals and sought the same plants to survive a Neanderthals.

This proximity led to mingling and even interbreeding, Neanderthal DNA can be found in modern-day humans to this day. 

It is believed the two species managed to co-exist for around 8,000 years, but the competition over limited resources led Neanderthals to extinction at some point between 43 to 38 thousand years ago. 

A map showing the relative dates at which humans arrived in different Continents, including Europe 45,000 years ago. Humans and Neanderthals co-existed for about 8,000 years before Neanderthals went extinct

20,000 years old Dogs remains Found in Caves in Southern Italy

20,000 years old Dogs remains Found in Caves in Southern Italy

The Jacksonville Free Press reports that dog remains found in two caves in Apulia have been dated to between 20,000 and 14,000 years ago. The dogs are thought to have inhabited the caves with humans, pushing back dog domestication in the region by about 4,000 years. 

The causes of this phenomenon are still a complete mystery, while dogs are recognized as the best companion of humanity and one of the most domesticated animals worldwide.

Researchers from the University of Siena in Italy hope their discovery can shed light on how dogs made the change from wild carnivores to loving companions. 

The difference between dog remains found at the prehistoric cave of Grotta Paglicci (the smaller one) and the same anatomic element from a current wolf.
This jaw bone comes from the cave of Grotta Paglicci shows how the teeth of what could be Europe’s earliest domesticated dogs

One theory is that wolves became scavengers out of necessity due to a lack of food, and this took them close to human settlements.  Some experts believe the animals and humans slowly developed a bond and the symbiotic relationship flourished from there. 

Others think wolves and humans worked together when hunting and this is how the relationship spawned.  The research team from Siena University hopes that the surviving fragments of one of the first dogs to live alongside humans as a pet could help find a definitive answer. 

Dr. Francesco Boschin led a piece of research, published in August in Scientific Reports, on early canine remains found at two paleolithic caves in Southern Italy, the Paglicci Cave, and the Romanelli Cave.

Writing in this study, the scientists say: ‘Our combined molecular and morphological analyses of fossil canid remain from the sites of Grotta Paglicci and Grotta Romanelli, in southern Italy, attest of the presence of dogs at least 14,000 calibrated years before present. 

‘This unambiguously documents one of the earliest occurrences of domesticates in the Upper Palaeolithic of Europe and in the Mediterranean.’ However, a further analysis which is still ongoing shows this figure could indeed be much later, towards 20,000 years, Dr Boschin told RealPress.   

‘From an archaeological point of view, the oldest remains of domesticated dogs were found in Central Europe and date back 16,000 years,’ Dr Boschin said.   

In the Mediterranean area, we have now established that domesticated dogs lived here 14,000 years ago for sure, but possibly even 20,000 years ago. While defining their true age is still a work in progress, the researchers are confident of one thing, their findings include the oldest pet dog specimens discovered in the Mediterranean area.

‘[They] could also represent the until now missing evidence of the evolutionary process that led to the dog, the very first domesticated animal,’ Dr. Boschin adds. Remains of wolves were also discovered in the caves. They were bigger than the dogs and had distinct molars designed to tear meat apart that dogs do not have. 

Paglicci cave italy.

Molecular analysis has indicated that the genetic separation of wolves and dogs started somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago, and according to Dr. Boschin, the domestication process itself may have played a key part in that process. We believe that in the first stage of the domestication process it is always like that – domesticated animals are always smaller than wild ones,’ he said.

‘This is true for all mammals. In the case of dogs, we consider them to be pets, and this is the first evidence: Their smaller size.’

Scholars and scientists agree that the domestication of the dog dates back to the Last Glacial Maximum, a period of strong environmental crisis during which many European animal populations – and humans – sought refuge in warmer regions, such as the peninsulas of southern Europe, including Italy, Iberia and the Balkans.

Difference between the dog of Grotta Paglicci (the smaller one) and the same bone from a current wolf. On the table are other two remains of Grotta Paglicci (vertebrae and a jaw
Professor Caramelli (left), of the Florence University, seeing the difference between a dog from Paglicci and a current wolf in the lab of anthropology of the university

‘In this period of serious crisis, the wolf, a social predator in some way similar to man, found a new way to ensure survival: taking advantage of a new niche, eating the leftovers from human settlements,’ Dr. Boschin explained.  He also believes it is possible humans tried to accelerate the divergence from wolf to dog by killing the most aggressive offspring, encouraging calm and obedient genes to be passed down the generations. 

The genetic profile from one of the dogs discovered in the Paglicci Cave closely resembles the genetic profile of similar remains found in Germany. Both of these findings could be dated to about 14,000 years ago.

This, Dr. Boschin said, shows that the specimens found more than 600 miles apart both originated from a common population before spreading across Europe. 

‘At that time our continent was characterized by a strong cultural fragmentation, but the discovery of two genetically related dogs, one in southern Italy and the other in Germany, suggests that, despite cultural differences, the dogs may have represented a common cultural feature among human groups.’

The research could lead to a better understanding of the role dogs played in Palaeolithic communities, something we still know next to nothing about. 

Dogs may have had a specific function in the hunting or in the defence of camps. They may also have served a more spiritual purpose, as dogs still do today in some tribal cultures, where they are considered reincarnations of the dead or earthly manifestations of spirits.

The research team is still analyzing the findings and hope to eventually be able to provide more answers to this and other questions about the early co-existence of man and his best friend, Dr Boschin said. 

Archaeologists Excavate Roman Villa at Pompeii

Archaeologists Excavate Roman Villa at Pompeii

The suburb of the ancient city of Pompeii was populated by numerous settlement complexes, scattered over a territory which responded to productive (wine and oil-producing farms) as well as residential or seasonal needs when the owner needed to stay temporarily.

The safeguarding activity carried out by the Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii and now by the Archaeological Park of Pompeii has allowed us to outline a rather complex and articulated context, with the identification of various ‘villas’, located in the relevant territory.

The current excavation operation, in Civita Giuliana, around 700m northwest of the walls of Ancient Pompeii, as well as confirming this data, has brought to light the servile-productive sector of a large villa, which had already been partially investigated at the beginning of the 20th century, and the area (to the south and southwest of the structure) dedicated to agricultural use.

The new excavations have revealed the presence of a rectangular structure with 5 quadrangular rooms, constructed with opus reticulatum walls (a form of Roman brickwork consisting of diamond-shaped bricks of tuff, referred to as cubilia, placed around a core of opus caementicium).

Two rooms have so far been extensively studied. The first room is located on the western side of the structure and is decorated with a thin layer of white plaster with traces of red stripes.

The room contains a quadrangular niche called a lalarium (a shrine to the guardian spirits of the Roman household) that is bordered by a plaster frame with a quadrangular marble base. Several items, including two items of furniture, were identified as voids in the pyroclastic flow deposits that have been replicated with plaster casts.

The second room contains the remains of animals, one complete with a connected skeletal structure and a second small animal located in front of a wooden trough.

The excavation has posed new questions on the peculiarities of the complex, and has opened, or rather reopened, the debate regarding its planimetric development.

The Historic Excavations

Between 1907 and 1908, the Marquis Giovanni Imperiali carried out excavations in the area immediately to the north of the current area, on the basis of an excavation permit granted by the then Ministry of Education to the private individual, according to the norms of regulations in force at the time, and whose reports were published in 1994 with a monograph by the Superintendency.

The historic excavation unearthed 15 rooms relating to two sectors of the villa, one residential and the other productive.

The residential sector was arranged around a rectangular plan peristyle, bordered on the north and east sides by a portico supported by masonry columns, whilst the western side – presumably taking advantage of a natural rise in height, was bordered by a long cryptoporticus covered by a terrace onto which the peristyle opened, with a view over the land in front.

On the eastern side of the peristyle, five rooms were discovered (the only ones whose structure it has been possible to locate, thanks to photographic documentation of the excavation), decorated with paintings of the Third and Fourth Style, and which yielded a varied typology of objects related to daily life, personal adornment, and domestic worship.

Regarding the productive sector, which was probably located on the northeastern side of the building, we lack the information necessary to be able to locate it with certainty, but undoubtedly it consisted of a torcularium, a wine cellar, and other rooms for storing foodstuffs produced in the agricultural land which surrounded the building; the position of a lararium in the southeastern corner of the courtyard is also uncertain.

Over the course of the following years, other random finds have revealed further remains of the structures. In 1955, just before one of the tests carried out during the current investigation, the Archaeological Superintendency brought to light the dividing walls; of particular interest is the presence of two walls parallel and perpendicular to the road track, joined by a connecting wall in opus craticium.

1,900 years ago: Terrified mother and child’s final moments preserved in ash after Pompeii volcano blast

1,900 years ago: Terrified mother and child’s final moments preserved in ash after Pompeii volcano blast

Having been buried in ash for over 1,900 years, this tragic story of what seems to be a child on the belly of its terrified mother is a step closer to being unveiled in this disturbing image.

In 79 A.D., after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Restorers are working on the carefully preserved plaster casts of 86 Romans at Pompeii, including a child seemingly frozen in terror.

It is believed that the child was four, due to his height and was sheltering in a location dubbed House of the Golden Bracelet with his family when tragedy struck.

This haunting image shows what appears to be a child resting on the stomach of an adult. It is estimated that anywhere between 10,000 and 25,000 residents of Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum were killed on the spot
Restorers are working on the carefully preserved plaster casts of 86 of the Romans trapped in Pompeii in 79 AD, including children seemingly frozen in terror. Here, Stefano Vanacore, director of the laboratory at Pompeii Archaeological Site can be seen carrying the remains of a petrified child in his arms
Experts at the site are readying the poignant remains for a forthcoming exhibition called Pompeii and Europe. It could be supposed that this victim was trapped in a building or terrified

He was discovered alongside an adult male and female, presumed to be his parents, as well as a younger child who appeared to be asleep on his mother’s lap. The little boy’s clothing is visible in the plaster cast, and his facial expression is one of peace, Decoded Past reported.

Stefania Giudice, a conservator from Naples national archaeological Museum, told journalist Natashas Sheldon: ‘It can be very moving handling these remains when we apply the plaster.’ 

‘Even though it happened 2,000 years ago, it could be a boy, a mother, or a family. It’s human archaeology, not just archaeology.’

The perfectly-preserved settlement was discovered by accident in the 18th century, buried under 30ft (9 metres) of ash. Archaeologists were amazed to find human remains inside the voids. Plaster of Paris was poured inside to create casts of humans, and when this material is broken it reveals bones inside (shown)
The perfectly-preserved settlement was discovered by accident in the 18th century, buried under 30ft (9 meters) of ash. Archaeologists were amazed to find human remains inside the voids. Plaster of Paris was poured inside to create casts of humans, and when this material is broken it reveals bones inside (shown)

Experts at the Pompeii Archaeological Site are readying the poignant remains for a forthcoming exhibition called Pompeii and Europe. The people’s poses reveal how they died, some trapped in buildings, and others sheltering with family members. 

In one haunting image, Stefano Vanacore, director of the laboratory can be seen carrying the remains of the tiny child in his arms who was imprisoned in ash when the volcano erupted on 24 August. 

Another plaster cast of an adult reveals he raised his hands above his head in a protective gesture, seemingly in a bid to stave off death. Pompeii was a large Roman town in the Italian region of Campania. 

Reports claim two thousand people died, and the location was abandoned until it was rediscovered in 1748
The majority of plaster casts were made in mid 19th century, meaning that some have degenerated and need repairing, offering experts a glimpse inside them

Mount Vesuvius unleashed its power by spewing ash hundreds of feet into the air for 18 hours, which fell onto the doomed town, choking residents and covering buildings.

But the deadly disaster occurred the next morning, when the volcano’s cone collapsed, causing an avalanche of mud travelling at 100mph (160km/h) to flood Pompeii, destroying everything in its path and covering the town so that all but the tallest buildings were buried.

People were buried too in the ash, which hardened to form a porous shell, meaning that the soft tissues of the bodies decayed, leaving the skeleton in a void. Reports claim two thousand people died, and the location was abandoned until it was rediscovered in 1748.

Many of the buildings, artifacts, and skeletons were found intact under a layer of debris. It is now classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site and more than 2.5 million tourists visit each year, French and Italian archaeologists excavating areas of the ancient town found raw clay vases that appear to have been dropped by Roman potters fleeing the disaster.  

The perfectly-preserved settlement was discovered by accident in the 18th century, buried under 30ft (9metres) of ash. Excavators were amazed to find human remains inside voids of the ash and soon worked out how to create casts of the people to capture a moment frozen in time.

Archaeologists poured plaster inside to capture the positions the people were in when they died, trapping their skeletons inside the plaster before removing the cast from the hole a couple of days later.

The technique means it’s possible to see the anguished and pained expressions of men, women, and children who all perished as well as details such as hairstyles and clothes.

Roman writer, Pliny the younger, described the panic during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Terrified Romans (illustrated) living in the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum saw ‘sheets of fire and leaping flames’ as they ran through dark streets carrying torches with pumice stone raining down upon them, he said
Roman writer, Pliny the younger, described the panic during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Terrified Romans (illustrated) living in the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum saw ‘sheets of fire and leaping flames’ as they ran through dark streets carrying torches with pumice stone raining down upon them, he said

Creating casts is an exact science because the plaster must be thin enough to show details of the person, but thick enough to support the remains, the BBC reported.

Approximately 1,150 bodies have been discovered so far, although a third of the city has yet to be excavated. The majority of plaster casts were made in the mid 19th century, meaning that some have degenerated and need repairing, offering experts a glimpse inside them.

In all, only around 100 of the voids have been captured in plaster, to reveal people’s poses as well as writhing pet dogs, for example. It is estimated that anywhere between 10,000 and 25,000 residents of Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum were killed on the spot.

A hidden temple was recently discovered in an ancient Roman city that’s mostly still underground

A hidden temple was recently discovered in an ancient Roman city that’s mostly still underground

The temple was once part of the city of Falerii Novi, which was abandoned more than 1,000 years ago and buried by time.

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) map of the newly discovered temple in the Roman city of Falerii Novi, Italy.

Archaeologists recently mapped the entire town in remarkable detail with ground-penetrating radar (GPR) revealing previously unknown structures, including the temple and a bathing complex.

Located about 31 miles (50 kilometers) north of Rome, Falerii Novi was founded in 241 B.C. and was occupied until around the seventh century A.D. It was surrounded by a wall and at just 0.1 square miles (0.3 square kilometers) in area, it was quite small.

Today, Falerii Novi’s ruins lie in a rural area, and there are no modern buildings atop it. But the city has thus far only been partly excavated.

The new map demonstrates that high-resolution radar scans can reveal the secrets of buried cities, providing valuable data about their construction and evolution, scientists reported in a new study. 

“This technique really liberates us for looking at whole towns; we don’t have to rely on places like Pompeii that are already mostly excavated,” said study co-author Martin Millett, a professor of classical archaeology at the University of Cambridge in England. “This is a technique where, with a little bit of planning, you can gather fantastic quality data over a whole city,” Millett told BBC News.

Archaeologists began excavating the ruins in the 19th century; the site was later identified as Falerii Novi based on extensive historic records that described the Roman city, according to the study.

In the late 1990s, other researchers conducted magnetic surveys of the site, measuring patterns in soil magnetism to visualize buried structures.

This technique produced a map showing the street grid and most of the city buildings, but with one reading taken about every 20 inches (50 centimeters), the map’s resolution was poor, painting “a fuzzy picture” of what the city looked like, Millett said.

A slice of ground-penetrating radar data from Falerii Novi, revealing the outlines of the town’s buildings.

Buried temple

For the new study, the researchers deployed a grid of ground-penetrating radar antennae, fixed to a cart and towed over the site by an all-terrain vehicle.

They bombarded the site with radio wave pulses, taking measurements every 2 inches (6 cm) and reflecting off objects underground to a depth of 6.5 feet (2 meters), according to the study. This showed Falerii Novi’s buried structures in high resolution and in three dimensions.

Each scan provided a “slice” that the researchers then stitched together to create the map. Thanks to the new data, a much sharper picture of the long-hidden city emerged.

The exceptional resolution enabled the study authors to perform detailed architectural analysis that would otherwise have been possible only through excavation.

One structure, to the west of the city’s southern gate, was clearly a temple; “you can see steps leading up to it, the columnated courtyard around it and the altar,” Millett said. 

A market building and a bath complex were also visible for the first time, as well as a large enclosure that may have been a public monument, according to the study.

Computer-aided object detection in the GPR data from the case-study area: a) the wall objects detected in each individual GPR slice and profile were combined and projected onto a 2D map (red). Detected floors are shown in green; b) 3D representation showing the same result, with the floors semi-transparent.

Criss-crossing pipes

Another intriguing find was the unusual layout of Falerii Novi’s water supply system, as the radar scans revealed networks of pipes running underneath the city’s buildings. In other ancient Roman towns that have been fully excavated — or nearly so — water pipes typically ran parallel to the city streets.

Those water systems are therefore thought to have been installed during a later stage of the city’s construction after most of the buildings were already in place. 

But in Falerii Novi, pipes were installed under the buildings, running diagonally across the town. That would have been impossible to do unless the pipes were put in place first, before construction of any of the buildings. This offers an unexpected glimpse of how the Romans designed and built some of their cities, according to the study.

“In a sense, that changes the game for looking at Roman urbanism,” Millett said. “If we can do this across a whole series of cities, we begin to get new insights into how their urban planning worked.”

Chinese skeletons found in roman cemetery promise to rewrite history

Chinese skeletons found in roman cemetery promise to rewrite history

They were two powerful, ancient empires separated by more than 5,000 miles of imposing mountain ranges, barren desert, and exposed steppe grasslands.

Yet a collection of seemingly unremarkable bones discovered in a Roman cemetery in London has provided new insights into the links between the Roman Empire and Imperial China.

Analysis has revealed that two skeletons dating from between the 2nd and 4th Century AD unearthed at the site in the city’s Southwark area may have been Chinese.

Analysis of skeletons found in a Roman cemetery in south London (pictured) has revealed that two of the people buried there between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD had Asian ancestry and were possibly from China. It provides new evidence of the links between the empires

The findings promise to rewrite the history of the Romans as it suggests these two great empires had far greater connections than previously believed. While it is known that there was extensive trade between China and ancient Rome along what became known as the Silk Road, the two empires are thought to have viewed each other warily.

Accounts from the time suggest the Chinese were curious about the ‘tall and virtuous’ people of Rome, while the Romans found their rivals in the east mysterious but valued their silk cloth.

Despite the trade between the empires, however, only one person of Asian ancestry has ever been found on sites dating back to the Roman Empire – an adult man unearthed at Vagnari in Italy.

But now research led by the Museum of London has revealed two more individuals of Asian ancestry, buried among the remains of other citizens of ancient Londinium. According to the Times, while experts have not been able to identify their exact origins, it is likely these people had come from China.

Writing in the Journal of Archaeological Science, Dr. Rebecca Redfern, an archaeologist at the Museum of London, said how they ended up there is a mystery.

She and her colleagues said: ‘The expansion of the Roman Empire across most of western Europe and the Mediterranean, led to the assimilation and movement of many ethnically and geographically diverse communities.

Archaeologist Rebecca Redfern (pictured right) and her colleagues say Londinium may have had a far more flourishing community of immigrants than previously believed. Among the skeletons were those from north Africa, including a young girl (pictured left)

‘Its power and wealth meant that it also had trade connections for raw materials and products, such as silk throughout Europe, Africa and also to the east, including India and China.

‘Many people travelled, often vast distances, for trade or because of their occupation, for example in the military, or their social status, for example, if they were enslaved.’

However, other skeletons found in the same cemetery reveal another intriguing possibility. Forensics experts at Michigan State University matched the shape and morphology of 22 skulls found at the site to their ancestry.

It suggests at least four of the skeletons were from Africa while two were Asian. Isotope analysis also suggested that five of the individuals appear to have come from the Mediterranean. It suggests that the bustling suburb of London to the south of the River Thames had enjoyed a rich immigrant population who seemed to have a similar status to locals living in the area, at least in death.

This raises the possibility that perhaps these Chinese visitors had in fact settled in the area, even setting up their own trade in the busy heart of Roman Britain. While it may never be possible to unravel exactly what they were doing there, Dr. Redfern and her colleagues say it was clear there were more foreigners in Europe than had been previously realized.

Archaeologists unearthed around 22 skeletons at the site in Lant Street, Southwark (pictured)
Londinium (artist’s impression) was the center of the Roman empire in Britain, but across the river to its south was a small suburban area that would later become Southwark

They are hoping that DNA analysis of some of the remains might help to further unravel some of the ancestries of those who were buried in Southwark. For example, it may reveal whether the individuals had been relatively new arrivals from their distant lands or were the offspring of people who had been brought to Britain as slaves.

The remains of one teenage girl who was found at the site were also discovered with an ivory folding knife carved into the shape of a leopard.  Similar styles of knives have been found to be linked to Carthage.  Isotopes from her teeth suggested she had grown up in North Africa, suggesting she had been brought to London after growing up in Africa.

However, DNA tests revealed the teenager had blue eyes and a maternal ancestry that could be traced to south-eastern Europe and west Eurasia, at the eastern fringes of the Roman Empire. It is possible she had been a slave captured during one of the many wars between Rome and Carthage, say the archaeologists. 

At the time when the people are thought to have lived, the Roman Empire was at its peak before it split into two halves.  China was in the hands of the Han Dynasty, considered to be the most prolific period of cultural and technological advances in the ancient empire.

Writing in the journal, Dr. Redfern said: ‘It may well be that these individuals were themselves or were descended from enslaved people originating from Asia, as there were slave-trade connections between India and China, and India and Rome.’

Isotope analysis has also provided some clues about the diets of those buried in the cemetery. Dr. Redfern and her colleagues added: ‘Diets were found to be primarily C3-based with limited input of aquatic resources, in contrast to some other populations in Roman Britain and proximity to the River Thames.’ 

Tourist Damages A Valuable Italian Sculpture And Just Walks Away

Tourist Damages A Valuable Italian Sculpture And Just Walks Away

The Austrian 50-year-old man who broke three toes of a statue in the 19th century while posing for a picture has been identified by the Italian police.

On July 31 in the Hipsoteca Museum in Possagno Northern Italy, the 200-year-old plaster cast model of Antonio Canova’s statue of Paolina Bonaparte was damaged.

The tourist’s name has not been released yet, but surveillance camera footage shows him laying on the statue to pose for a photo. When the man stands up to walk away, it appears he gets rid of the damages, or toes, and walks away.

Antonio Canova self portrait, 1790.

Canova carved the now damaged piece of art from a marble statue that is currently housed in the Borghese Gallery in Rome. The sculptor lived from 1757-1822 and was famous for his marble statues.

Police report the man was with a group of eight Austrian tourists but strayed away from his friends to get a photo of himself “sprawled over the statue.”

Investigators say there could be further damage to the base of the sculpture that the museum experts still have to ascertain, but as of now, only three broken toes from the statue’s right foot are notably damaged.

President of the Antonio Canova Foundation, Vittorio Sgarbi, wrote in a Facebook post that he has asked police for “clarity and rigor.” He wrote that the tourist must not “remain unpunished and return to his homeland. The scarring of a Canova is unacceptable.”

The museum posted about the incident on Facebook, explaining that the room guard noticed the damage and declared an emergency situation immediately.

Image of the damaged Italian sculpture model from the Carabinieri police.

The man responsible for the damage was identified because of coronavirus measures, which required visitors to leave their personal information for eventual contact tracing if an outbreak were tied to the museum.

When police reached out to a woman who signed in on behalf of herself and her husband, the woman burst into tears and admitted her husband was the toe breaker, according to a press release from Treviso Carabinieri.

The husband later confessed and repented for the “stupid move,” as stated in the release. Charges have not been pressed. A court in Treviso is still deciding on legal actions.

This toe-breaker is not the first person to damage a valuable piece of artwork in an attempt to get a selfie. In 2018, a woman knocked over and damaged two artworks in an attempt to get a selfie, one by Francisco Goya and the other by Salvador Dali, at a gallery in Russia.

The Museum recently affected by the Austrian tourist concluded the Facebook post on the matter with the following statement.

“We reiterate that our heritage must be protected: adopting responsible behavior within the Museum while respecting the works and goods preserved in it is not only a civic duty, but a sign of respect for what our history and culture testify and that must be proudly handed down to future generations.”

The thankfully intact marble sculpture of Paolina Bonaparte Borghese as ‘Venus Victrix’ by Antonio Canova, in the Galleria Borghese, Rome.

Archaeologists unearth third-century’ human mountains’

Archaeologists unearth third-century’ human mountains’

It was discovered near Rome when archaeologists found the remains of a man who was considered a giant when he died in the third century A.D.

It’s an unbelievably rare find – because today gigantism affects three in a million people worldwide. The condition begins in childhood when a malfunctioning pituitary gland causes abnormal growth.

Two partial skeletons, one from Poland and another from Egypt, had previously been identified as “probable” cases of gigantism, but the Roman specimen is thought to be the first clear case from the ancient past, study leader Simona Minozzi, a paleopathologist at Italy’s University of Pisa said.

The figure stood at about 6ft 8 inches, classed as a giant in third century A.D when the average height for a man was 5ft 5 inches.

The unusual skeleton was found in 1991 during an excavation at a necropolis in Fidenae (map), a territory indirectly managed by Rome.

At the time, the Archaeological Superintendence of Rome, which led the project, noted that the man’s tomb was abnormally long. It was only during a later anthropological examination, though, that the bones too were found to be unusual. Shortly thereafter, they were sent to Minozzi’s group for further analysis.

The researchers found a ‘human mountain’
The figure has gigantism according to the study

To find out if the skeleton had gigantism, the team examined the bones and found evidence of skull damage consistent with a pituitary tumor, which disrupts the pituitary gland, causing it to overproduce human growth hormone.

Other findings — such as disproportionately long limbs and evidence that the bones were still growing even in early adulthood — support the gigantism diagnosis, according to the study, published on October 2 2012 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

His early demise — likely between the age of 16 and 20 — might also point to gigantism, which is associated with cardiovascular disease and respiratory problems, said Minozzi, who emphasized that the cause of death remains unknown.

A statue of Maximinus Thrax

Charlotte Roberts, an archaeologist at Durham University, said she was “certainly convinced with the diagnosis” of gigantism in 2012, but that she’d like to know more.

She said: “You can’t just study the disease, you have to look at the wider impact of how people functioned in society, and whether they were treated any differently.”

She added that one thing researchers do know is that the second century A.D. emperor Maximinus Thrax was described in the literature as a “human mountain.”

Archaeologists have found other remains that could have been giants

Minozzi noted, though, that imperial Roman high society “developed a pronounced taste for entertainers with evident physical malformations, such as hunchbacks and dwarfs — so we can assume that even a giant generated enough interest and curiosity”.

Roberts also highlighted how the find has been useful in learning about gigantism.

She said: “Normally a doctor will be looking at a patient with a disease over short term span.

“We’ve been able to look at skeletons from archaeological sites that are thousands of years old. You can start to look at trends of how diseases have changed in frequency over time.”