Burial grounds dating back to the sixth century BC are usually taken pretty good care of and considered important national heritage sites – or at least you would have thought so. This wasn’t the case recently in Puglia, where an archaeological site from at least 500 BC was used as an illegal dumping ground. It is reported that 135 tons of dangerous waste – including building materials, disused wagons and other heavy-duty items from the state railways, as well as out-dated pneumatic machines and vehicles was left at three sites near the town of Martina Franca, near Taranto in southern Italy.
Three arrests were made over the weekend by the Italian financial police (Guardia di Finanza), who are investigating the crime. Only one of the three sites where refuse was dumped has been reported to be an archaeological site of considerable importance, but it is thought to cover an area of 16,000 square metres although no further details have yet been released.
Archaeological Sites of Taranto
The Itria Valley, between Taranto and Martina Franca, was part of Magna Grecia from the eighth century BC and there are several important sites and necropolises in the area, including:
- The Triglie archaeological area, which is hugely important for its traces of several different historical periods, including prehistoric (there is a Bronze Age village), Greek (burial chambers, which were also, bizarrely, used as houses during Middle Ages), Roman (there is an aqueduct-hypogeum), and the medieval period (as noted by a tenth century village).
- The Cacciagualani archaeological area, where several objects have been found, including a golden diadem and two rings found in a fourth century BC tomb.
- Amastuola Farm, which is thought to be one of the first Greek settlements in the region, having been colonised by a group of Greeks during the seventh and sixth centuries BC.
That one of the area’s archaeological sites is now under several tons of industrial waste is a shocking reflection of several deep-rooted problems in Italy. It will no doubt raise many questions about the country’s waste disposal problems, as well as organised crime and the protection and funding of heritage sites.
Photo by Zeta.