New Technology Unearths Ancient Venetian City

August 2, 2009

(ChattahBox)—The ancient Roman City of Altinum, once a wealthy trading port on the Adriatic Sea, became lost to time over the centuries, as barbarian hordes drove the inhabitants to the safety of the Venetian Islands, to what is now modern day Venice.

As a result of a recent drought and high-definition satellite photography, scientists have discovered the remains of the lost city beneath farm fields, just a few miles from Venice.

Paolo Mozzi, a geomorphologist at the University of Padua in Italy, and his team took aerial photos using infrared technology, which revealed visible ruins of an underground city, including streets, palaces, temples, squares, theatres, an amphitheatre and a large canal. The scientists were able to draw a map of the city from the photographs that they plan to use to excavate the site in the future.

The exact location of Altinum has long been a mystery, but now it has been found not far from the Marco Polo Airport. And as it happens, it’s one of the few Roman cities in Europe that hasn’t been built over and is the only Roman city of its size in Northern Italy. The scientists say Altinum is about the size of Pompeii.

The thriving seaport town was at its height from the 1st through the 5th centuries, before it eventually succumbed to barbarian hordes, including Attila the Hun, when it was finally abandoned by the 10th century.

Harvard classicist Kathleen Coleman notes that Altinum was once a wealthy and vibrant trading center. The “…Latin poet Martial mentions that the villas along its waterfront were as beautiful as the famed resort of Baiae on the Bay of Naples near Pompeii,” said Coleman.

Once the lost City of Altinum is excavated, scientists and scholars would be able to learn how the people lived during the early centuries before the birth of Venice.


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2 Responses to “New Technology Unearths Ancient Venetian City”

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