Coastal Erosion Near Rome Uncovers Prehistoric Warrior

After almost 5,000 years of peace and quiet, a warrior thought to date from the eneolithic age has been roused from his sleep. The discovery was made in May this year, after a winter of high tides and storms led to coastal erosion in the area of Nettuno, near Anzio, south of Rome. Click here to see a video of the discovery and excavation. It is thought that the tomb may be part of a larger eneolithic or Copper Age necropolis. The warrior, nicknamed Nello by his finders, is believed to date from the third millennium BC.

The discovery was made during routine checks of archaeological sites at Torre Astura in the Nettuno area by a branch of Italy’s armed police force, the carabinieri for the protection of cultural heritage (carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale). The skeleton was found about 10 metres from the beach by officers when they noticed an unusual fissure in the ground, thought to have been caused by land erosion. When they investigated, they found the buried warrior, with an the tip of an arrow still embedded in his ribs and surrounded by funerary vases.

Important Discovery

At first they believed the skeleton was that of a Roman soldier, but it has now been certified as dating from the third millennium BC making this a very important discovery. Further examination of the surrounding area will take place.

Marina Sapelli Ragni, the superintendent for archaeological heritage in Lazio, said that the objects found with the skeleton consisted of six ceramic vases all of which are very well preserved and are consistent with finds of the eneolithic, or copper age culture, which covers the third millennium BC. The finds will undergo further analysis over the coming months at a regional laboratory in Tivoli.

Photo by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (Ministero per i Beni e le Attivit Culturali – MiBAC).