From the Italian Press

Well, now that I’m full of espresso, it seems appropriate to peruse what our friends in Italy have been reading about:

Authorities have discovered evidence of tombaroli operating around Ragusa:

They’re going to be sprucing (cypressing? decypressing?) up Augustus’ mausoleum:

The previous two items hint that the bases for obelisks which once stood in front of the Mausoleum have been discovered … la Repubblica gives more details:

This item from Quaderno relates the debate over what to do with archaeological remains found beneath the Duomo in Benevento; inter alia, there are Roman remains from both Republican and Imperial (and later) eras, including remains of the Forum:

Eva Cantarella weighs in on the ongoing concerns over conditions at Pompeii:

Recovery of stolen antiquities in Puglia/Bari is up 15%:

Puglia/ Bari, aumentano gli scavi clandestini: +15% (Vergilio)

A report on the find at San Mango d’Aquino (in Calabria … not sure what its ancient name would be) of a Roman tomb from the ‘Augustan age’ … it might be hinting at the location of a long-rumoured necropolis in the area:

I don’t quite get the connection to archaeology in this one … a prize for archaeological journalism named after some guy we’ve all heard of:

Centurion Flick in the Works

According to Hollywood Reporter:

Michael Fassbender, Dominic West and Bond girl Olga Kurylenko are girding their loins for Neil Marshall’s Britain-set sword-and-sandals thriller “Centurion,” for “Slumdog Millionaire” producer Christian Colson of Celador Films.

The movie, billed as a thriller set during the Roman invasion of Britain in A.D. 117, tells the story of Quintus Dias, sole survivor of a Pictish raid on a Roman frontier fort, who marches north with General Virilus’ legendary Ninth Legion, under orders to wipe the Picts from the face of the Earth and destroy their leader, Gorlacon.

Hmmm … the “invasion” of which they speak must be when Falco was sent to suppress an uprising in “Scotland” of assorted tribes, no? I guess they’ll also be telling us what happened to the lost Ninth Legion …

Classical (?) Accessories

Okay … so a couple of weeks ago I get an item in my mailbox about some guy who makes handbags with Classical names. I sat on the item for a while, then decided not to bother with it (it did get mentioned on one of the lists) and now I can’t find it again. About a week before that, there was a somewhat incoherent item on the Conturelle Swimsuit collection which mentioned:

This story with an all-over print and isolated motifs is inspired by antiquity: coins and meanders in French blue, turquoise and gold evoke the foam-borne love goddess who lent her name to the three ranges: Aphrodite, Aphrodite Allover and Aphrodite Bleu.

Today at MSN we read this:

The legendary world of the mythical Greek Gods of Mount Olympus, symbols of virtue and guardians of the arts, is the inspiration for the new Roberto Cavalli Eyewear collection, in which each model represents the meeting point between luxury and art, an extreme expression of beauty and creativity.

Each family – Aphrodite, Apollo, Hera, Artemis, Ephesus, Dionysus, Demeter, Hestia, Poseidon – stands out for its own specific features, the result of the perfect fusion of jewellery craftsmanship.

Nothing particularly ‘classical’ about any of these (to judge from the photos) other than the names …

Shipwrecks Off Albania

Not sure why the only source for this seems to be the rather obscure Owen Sound Sun Times, but it appears there has been a rather major shipwreck discovery off the coast of Albania. Adding to the mystery (for me) is why most of the article seems to quote people who weren’t directly involved.

Dixit Andrej Gaspari (a Slovenian archaeologist not involved in the project):

“The discoveries are very important because of the lack of properly documented objects from that period … The only ships found and documented from that time belong to the western Mediterranean and Israel . . . so our knowledge on the technology used for construction of ships is more or less limited.”

Among the finds:

A 51-centimetre-long pottery jar, or amphora, used to transport wine and olive oil, and a smaller version found about 80 metres deep were probably made in the southern Greek city of Corinth, in the sixth or early fifth centuries BC. Both were recovered from a merchant ship that sank about three kilometres off shore. Albanian archeologist Adrian Anastasi said if the sixth-century BC dating is confirmed, it would be only the fifth of its kind found in the world.

Other highlights included a fourth-century BC amphora and roof tiles, a north African jar from the first to third centuries AD and a Roman stone ship’s anchor of the second-first century BC. The team, operating off the southern port city of Saranda, also located more than 20 unknown 20th-century shipwrecks.

Dixit Adrian Anastasi (who is connected to the ‘dig’):

“A wreck with a whole shipload of tiles has never been found before,” Anastasi said. “The number of tiles and the way they were lying clearly shows the ship is below them.”

The article continues:

Anastasi said he had unearthed the same type of large tiles — which measure 74 by 51 inches — during excavations on land at the ruins of ancient cities in western Albania. He said the ship seemed to have been loaded on the nearby Greek island of Corfu and possibly foundered on its way to a Corinthian colony in Albania.

There’s more info (and some photos of the sorts of things we’re interested in) at the Albanian Coastal Survey 2008 webpage …

Greek Shipwrecks at Risk

A while back we mentioned that the Greek goverment was opening up a pile of potential underwater archaeological sites to scuba access … an excerpt from a piece in the Guardian:

“Greek waters are some of the richest in antiquities in the world,” said the marine archaeologist Katerina Dellaporta. “Thanks to very stringent controls over underwater exploration shipwrecks have been extremely well preserved.”

Until recently divers were allowed access to just 620 miles of the country’s 12,000 mile coastline, but in an attempt to boost tourism, the conservative government opened the country’s entire coastal waters to underwater exploration in 2003.

Since then, looting has proliferated, say archaeologists.

Treasure hunters, encouraged by scuba-diving websites from America to Australia, are homing in on the “archaeological sea parks” armed with hi-tech scanners, cameras and nets.

One US-based diving company offers on its website an exhaustive list of “underwater treasures” which have been discovered by scuba divers, including sculptures, jewellery, warrior helmets, Phoenician beads, vases, and a variety of personal items reflecting life in the region in ancient times, from oil lamps to medical supplies.

… is there anyone out there who isn’t saying “I told you so”?