Italian archaeologists find lost Roman city of Altinum near Venice
2009 07 31

By Hannah Devlin | TimesOnline.co.uk

The bustling harbour of Altinum near Venice was one of the richest cities of the Roman empire. But terrified by the impending invasion of the fearsome Germanic Emperor Attila the Hun, its inhabitants cut their losses and fled in AD452, leaving behind a ghost town of theatres, temples and basilicas.

Altinum was never reoccupied and gradually sunk into the ground. The city lived on in Venetian folk tales and historical artefacts but its exact position, size and wealth gradually faded into obscurity.


Ancient Map: EuroAtlas.net

Now, using aerial photography of the region, Italian archaeologists have not only located the city, but have produced a detailed map revealing its remarkably intact infrastructure and showing it to be slightly larger than Pompeii.

The abandonment of the city and its subsequent preservation makes it an archaeological time capsule, a unique find in Roman heritage. “It’s extremely unusual for a town to go out of use like this and that is what makes it absolutely invaluable for achaeologists. It gives a full profile of what the town looked like without the imposition of modern infrastructure,” said Dr Neil Christie, a specialist in the Roman empire at the University of Leicester.

The team behind the study located the ancient city by studying hundreds of aerial photographs of the region, mostly taken by private companies for cartography purposes.

In July 2007, during a particularly dry summer, crops were suffering from drought and were highly sensitive to the subsurface presence of stones, bricks or compacted soil. On the image taken by the mapping company Telespazio, the lighter crops indicated stonework, while the darker patches revealed depressed features such as pits and canals.

The team, reconstructing the town using the aerial images and knowledge of Roman architecture, was able to identify temples, theatres, a basilica, the marketplace and city walls as well as hundreds of smaller structures. Also visible is a large canal, which would have been used for the transportation of oils, wines and foreign luxuries inland to the Roman capital of Milan and other powerful cities such as Verona.

“Everything is just as it was. When we saw the picture we couldn’t believe it,” said Alessandro Fontana, an archaeologist at the University of Padua and a co-author of the paper, which is published today in the journal Science.

He added that as flights from Venice’s San Marco airport fly directly above Altinum, it was surprising that no one had spotted the traces of the city before now.

The team behind the study hopes to carry out carefully planned excavations in the future, but is first collecting more aerial images. It is taking pictures every ten days, as different conditions will show up different features more clearly. By the end of 2009 the experts aim to have compiled all the data and produced an even more detailed map of Altinum.


Behold! Aerial images of the ancient city of Altinum were processed by a team at the University of Padua to reveal the layout of a Roman trading center.

CREDIT: ANDREA NINFO ET AL., SCIENCE (31 JULY 2009)



TimesOnline.co.uk



Gary Biltcliffe - The Legacy of the Etruscans & The Mysterious Pelasgi

Gary Biltcliffe - The Spirit of Portland & The Spine of Albion [Subscription]

Daniel Tatman - The Bath Mystery's: Geomancy, Lay Lines & Organic/Fractal Architecture

Michael Tsarion - Irish Origins Part 1 - The West to East Movement of Civilization, Land Bridges & Age of Catastrophe




Related Articles
A slow race over Venice's bridges
London dig finds history by the bucketful
Ancestor city of Venice unearthed
Ancient Roman City Rises Again
Huge Pre-Stonehenge Complex Found via 'Crop Circles
Mass Plague Graves Found on Venice "Quarantine" Island
Venice Pictures in National Geographic Traveler
Could Sardinia be the lost island of Atlantis?
Satellite images 'show Atlantis'
Egyptian map of Atlantis


Latest News from our Front Page

Chess-playing computers may cause the robot apocalypse
2014 04 23
Sore-loser chess programs might be the end of us all... In the movie The Terminator, we heard the human side of the story of Judgment Day, with the machines getting smart and seeing us as a threat. It wasn’t until the sequel that we heard the tale from the machine’s point of view, as it chose to start World War III ...
Archeologists’ findings may prove Rome a century older than thought
2014 04 23
It is already known as the eternal city, and if new archeological findings prove correct Rome may turn out to be even more so than believed until now. Next week, the city will celebrate its official, 2,767th birthday. According to a tradition going back to classic times, the brothers Romulus and Remus founded the city on 21 April in the year ...
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
2014 04 23
A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied. "I can’t speak for other MPs, but I’ve had many, many calls over the past eight years about chemtrails. And these questions are not so easy to answer," ...
Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound
2014 04 23
If it quacks like a duck... it’s not always a duck. Scientists have reportedly gotten to the bottom of the mysterious ’Bio-Duck’ sound in the Antarctic. Here’s a recording of the strange sound (it’s kind of a stretch to say it sounds like a duck, but who are we to second guess the biologists?). --- Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound Solved By Tanya Lewis ...
’Extreme’ Carbon Dioxide Reduction will be a Death Sentence for Humanity & Planet Earth
2014 04 23
If we allow a fraudulent pseudo-environmentalist cult to control every aspect of our lives then our children are doomed to a totalitarian existence which Stalin could only have dreamed of. “The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine ...
More News »