Italian archaeologists find lost Roman city of Altinum near Venice
2009-07-31 0:00

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

The Josh Duggar Incident Reveals The Tactics And Hypocrisy of SJWs
2015-05-30 1:46
Last week, In Touch Weekly broke the news that Josh Duggar, eldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar from TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, had molested five under-aged girls in 2002 and 2003. Josh, who was 14 at the time, was accused of fondling his victims, touching their breasts and genitals while they slept. A police report was released shortly ...
15 More Men of South Asian Descent Charged With Child Sex Offences
2015-05-30 0:42
Police in Keighley, West Yorkshire have charged 14 men and a 16-year-old boy with sex offences including the rape of a girl under the age of 16. The offences relate primarily to one female victim, with one allegation involving a second who was also under 16 at the time. The offences are alleged to have occurred between 2011 and 2012. In ...
Anti-Semitic fliers left on Chevy Chase driveways
2015-05-29 22:45
Five streets in Chevy Chase, Md., were papered with anti-Semitic fliers on Wednesday morning. Montgomery County police are looking for the person or people who left the hate-filled leaflets on almost every driveway on the streets. “This is very disturbing. My community is definitely disturbed,” said Jean Sperling, the village manager of Martin’s Additions, the community where the fliers were found. Sperling ...
German court says ex-SS officer unfit for trial
2015-05-29 22:32
Prosecutors in the northern German city of Hamburg have dropped their probe into a 93-year-old former Nazi SS officer. Gerhard Sommer, who suffers from dementia, allegedly took part in a World War II massacre in Italy. Gerhard Sommer, a former company commander of a mechanized infantry division, had been accused of participating in the mass murder of 560 civilians by Nazi ...
The Age of Disinformation
2015-05-29 21:56
I have been a professional meteorologist for 36 years. Since my debut on television in 1979, I have been an eyewitness to the many changes in technology, society, and how we communicate. I am one who embraces change, and celebrates the higher quality of life we enjoy now thanks to this progress. But, at the same time, I realize the instant ...
More News »