This month I finally managed to reach one of my dear colleague in Cilento, to carry out the anthropological and paleopathological study of osteological remains recovered inside a crypt in the province of Salerno.
dug this deposit in 2017, when we met on my first methane pipeline. At that
time, he told me that there would be the opportunity for a study on
osteological findings but he didn’t talk about it for a while.
year he contacted me because he was writing the monograph dedicated to the
restoration of the Convent and consequently it would have been very interesting
to include the data on the osteological material found inside one of the
after getting rid of the various commitments of work and the School of
Specialization, I left, together with my partner of work and life Tommaso, for
Cilento, where Ernesto and his family were waiting for us.
We stayed three days in total. During the first day we went to the Convent, where the boxes full of bones were waiting for us. Immediately the material was washed and left to dry, even though the damp weather was not very cooperative during this phase.
The second day the study began, where I proceeded with the division of the skeletal districts, the siding and the determination of the minimum number of individuals.
During this day I also determined the sex and age at death on the skulls and coxals that were preserved.
On the third day I focused my attention on pathologies, and although this sample was very fragmented and altered by the tafonomic agents, it has preserved very interesting case studies, which I will show you as soon as the monograph is published!
For this study I would like to thank Dr. Ernesto Bianco for the opportunity of this work and his family for the hospitality they offered us during our stay in Cilento. Furthermore, I would like to thank my very dear colleagues, Dr. Maria Cristina Serrangeli and Dr. Fiorella Bestetti for their valuable suggestions and Professor Robert Mann for advice in paleopathological analysis.
We have chosen a seaside town where we can stay, called Analipsi, east of Heraklion, and we have booked through Booking at Galazio apartments & suites. These consists of a series of very pretty small apartments arranged in front of equipped beach awarded with the “Blue Flag”.
We arrived in the late afternoon, so once we were settled in the apartment and refreshed we went to search a typical tavern, and we found it successfully. We went to Sirtaki Traditional Family Tavern, which perfectly reflected the expectations of both cuisine and atmosphere.
The next day we granted ourselves a day of relaxation at the sea, to recover the energy lost during the several months of pipeline and transfer to the Lodi area. In the evening, after renting a car, we went to explore the surroundings. We came across the characteristic Piskopiano, where we discovered the very good tavern of Kostas, an authentic gem located on the edge of the square where the church stands above the main street of the village.
Monday we headed to the Palace of Knossos in Heraklion, but as we were told, it was a big disappointment. The Palace is all restored and not very organized, there are no indications and despite the map purchased we probably missed some areas. Despite this it was exciting to be able to see things studied during the school years.
In the afternoon, after a delicious Pita Gyros, we strolled around Heraklion exploring the monuments and buying souvenirs. Then, we came across the Venetian Fortress of Koules, which for 21 years helped keep the Turks away. Then, it became a prison for the Cretan rebels under Turks’ domain.
On September 25th we went to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. This was completely rebuilt and opened in 2014 and I must say that it is one of the most beautiful museums I have ever seen. My enthusiasm was not only for the materials, which are unique, but for the museum layout, the organization and the path proposed. The exhibition is divided into 27 rooms, arranged between the ground floor and the first floor, and show the archaeological finds from the Neolithic to the Roman age. Obviously this museum is one of the most famous in the world for the masterpieces of the Minoan civilization.
On Wednesday, we decided to participate to an organized trip to visit
the northern coast of the island. The day was not climatically the best, the
temperatures dropped a lot and there was a lot of wind. Anyway we went by bus
to Elounda, a fishing village, which took on a higher profile thanks to the
hotels frequented by celebrities like U2 and Lady Gaga.
From here we took a ferry with which we reached a small beach where a barbecue was organized. In addition to the cold, that did not allow a bath in the sea, the beach was not the best, it was undefiled from the housing perspective but at the same time dirty and not very pretty (I don’t think I will make an organized exit anymore!).
After lunch we headed to the small island of Spinalonga. The fortress
that stands on the island was built by Venetians in 1579 to protect the bays of
Eloùnda and Mirabéllo. Later, in 1715, he surrendered to the Ottoman army. In
the post-Ottoman period, between 1903 and 1955, the island was transformed into
a leper colony to house the Greeks who fell ill with Hansen’s disease. After
touring the island with a guide, we set off for Agios Nikolaos, which stands
out for its bars, traditional taverns and elegant clothing stores. These are
contrasted by fish markets and rustic kafeneia.
For my birthday we decided to go to the heart of Crete. As a first step we passed by Gortys, where two of my archaeologists friends, that stay there for an archaeological mission of University of Bologna, were waiting for us. After a quick greeting we headed to the archaeological site, which covers an area of about one square km. The site is divided into a fenced area and an unfenced area where some of the complexes are scattered among the olive fields of the Cretan peasants. The site is something spectacular, shame about the non-museum part that is not very comfortable to reach, especially if you have sandals. In fact, the paths are not cleaned and cared how they should.
Afterwards we headed to Phaistos, but before going to visit the site we stopped at the tavern of Agios Ioannis where we eat an exquisite fried rabbit.
After the delicious lunch we entered the archaeological park of Phaistos,
which is the second most important palatial complex of the Minoan culture, and
among the sites of the time it is the one that still enjoys a suggestive
position, with a panorama that sweeps over the Plain of Messarà and on Mount
Psilorìtis. Festo has also undergone restoration works, but unlike Knossos,
where it has not undergone reconstruction, it remains immersed in an aura of
As a last day of vacation we decided to take it very calmly. We went to
have international breakfast at Votslakia Restaurant, and in the meantime we have
planned the last trip of the holiday. We decided to visit Mallia, a
contemporary site to the other two Minoan palaces of Knossos and Phaistos.
Mallia has given me many more emotions than the other sites visited
previously, it is much less restored, much more organized with panels and
signage and much more realistic. From this site comes the famous gold pendant
with bees kept at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
After this last visit, we went to relax on the beach before returning to Italy and to work above all, and we enjoyed the last moments on the beach and the end of our summer.
After eight months on the pipeline in Lodi I have finished, because I was finally able to find a site closer to Ravenna that allows me to return home every day … this thing, that for other people it may seem trivial, for me it is something awesome!
I can finally sleep in my bed, with my cat, stay in the bathroom as long as I want and eat when I feel like it.
Don’t get me wrong this experience has led me to meet mediocre people but also beautiful people with whom I will certainly maintain a genuine relationship, but having my own space is also a beautiful thing.
I started working on this pipeline in April, after five months off, I was initially very enthusiastic, even though it was nearly 300 kilometres from my current home.
My enthusiasm died off immediately, this yard wasn’t at all as quiet as my first pipeline in 2017, the timing was different, the company was different, people were different. I began to find a balance only after four months, at the beginning of September, when some of my colleagues came to work, some of which I already knew. Also because only after four months we were able to also have a balance at work with the presence of permanent houses as well as permanent teams for each picket to be cleared. Yes, the houses were never regular until the end of September, so every Thursday we packed our bags and on Friday we came back home … I can’t believe it that for a while I will not have to do all this, I’ll probably feel a bit empty …
The thing that disappointed me most and then pushed me to look for something else was the presumption on the part of my colleagues, who had a role equal to mine, who had a constant need to self-praise. The common thread of this yard has always been, in fact, questioning the professionalism of others, especially of the younger ones. All this has been very debasing, but then I must also thank this situation that has tempered me and spurred me to look for something else.
Surely the time of the greetings was not easy, eight months together, especially for the bond created with some people. My roommates, for example, we had become a small and cheerful family, some attitudes were annoying, like those of a brother or sister, but at the same time those defects made me smile.
Or like my friend Margherita, who at the time of hugs has also torn a tear, I will miss her so much, I do not know how I’ll do without our talk and without our laughter born from completely invented scenarios.
Without some of them I would have never made it to last eight months in this context, it is nice that despite the difficulties and the annoyances something good was born.
The Oudegracht, the old canal, passes through the city 5 meters below street level. Beautiful is the Domtoren, which is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, and represents, with its 112 m, one of the tallest towers in the Netherlands. This tower dominates Utrecht, and from its top you have the best view of the city.
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After relaxing in the green and in the nature, despite being in the center of the fantastic Amsterdam, we headed towards the Van Gogh Museum. Before we get there, however, we made a detour to Bagels and Beans, a fantastic place where you can eat bagels of all tastes. As far as I’m concerned I have chosen a cinnamon bagels filled with butter and peanut butter, very fat but delicious. The only flaw … the espresso, but for us Italians, I will not tell you anything new.
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In the afternoon we visited the Van Gogh Museum, divided into three floors that start from the most youthful works to the more recent ones. In some points it was not clear the route and then we went over several times in some rooms, apart from this the paintings are amazing.
Before returning to Utrecht, however, we stopped in a brewery, Biercafe Gollem, to finish in the best way the day. A beautiful orange cat welcomed me, sleeping on the counter, so the day couldn’t have ended in a better way.
The next day of our trip, we decided to go back to Amsterdam. First we went to the tourist information point, which is located opposite the central station, to get information on how to reach the characteristic areas with windmills. A very kind gentleman suggests us as a destination Zaanse Schans, a tourist town that is located in the north of Amsterdam. So, following his instructions we took a train that in 20 minutes brought us to this lovely town, where you can breathe the true essence of the Dutch soul.
Zaanse Schans is a small community located on the quay of the river Zaan. Part of the city was created in 1960 to illustrate the life in a village of seventeenth-century. The shops, houses, mills, historical buildings of the entire Zaan region have been relocated here to recreate a village-museum in which one lives and works. In fact, people are dedicated to the maintenance of Dutch traditions. Here the inhabitants themselves operate the mills, it seems to go back in time and live a fairy tale.
Once finished the tour in the village, we moved to the residential area called Zaandijk where there are some local places where to have lunch. We chose the pub Proeflokaal De Kruis, where we were greeted in a very kind by both the owner and the waitress, who served us promptly and very politely.
In Holland it is not easy to eat typical dishes, as it happens in Italy, or maybe we did not have the time, however here we ate sandwiches with flavors and smells typical of the Nordic countries.
Tommaso chose a sandwich with an extra-large meatball spiced with dill, accompanied by pickles and mustard, while for me pulled chicken with paprika and with a flavoured salad that cooled the whole. Finally, excellent beer at will.
From here we took the bus to reach Utrecht, city that we have chosen to stay during this long weekend. At the beginning, we would have liked to stay in Amsterdam, but you know how are the finances of archaeologists. So we opted for this city and it was a great choice! Our decision has fallen on Luxury Apartments, apartments located in a residential context. We have chosen to stay in apartment to be more independent and not have any kind of connection with breakfast, lunch or dinner at the hotel.
From the apartment the Utrecht Central Station is 10-minute walk away, and from there the trains leave for Amsterdam every 10 minutes, which is half an hour away by train.
The Melkweg (“Milky Way”) is a famous concert hall and cultural center of Amsterdam, as well as a former hippy meeting point. It is located near Leidseplein, the central square in the area where most of the city night entertainments are concentrated.
The building was previously a workshop and is currently divided into several rooms of various sizes, in fact in addition to the large concert hall, there is a room intended for theatrical and dance performances, a cinema, a room for photographic exhibitions and one for multi-media art events. The Melkweg is run by a non-profit organization founded in 1970.
At the Melkweg, that evening, my favorite singer-songwriter of the moment was playing, Michael Malarkey, multifaceted artist who opened the tour of his fantastic album “Mongrels” in Amsterdam. We had chosen these dates without knowing the first stop of his tour, it was destiny to see him again after the concert of Rome.
From the Amsterdam Central Station to the Melkweg it took 30 minutes of walking to get there. In this half an hour, we enjoyed the view of the canals and the beautiful and characteristic Amsterdam houses at sunset.
As you have already seen from Instagram stories and images posted on my profile, I am working on pipelines between Pavia and Lodi in Italy at the moment.
But today I would like to tell you about my University career and my first scientific article.
I am graduated in “Research, documentation and preservation of the archaeological heritage” at the University of Bologna, with a Master thesis entitled “Morphological and morphometric analysis of Torrener Bärenhöhle’s Paleolithic human tooth (Salzburg)” with Dr. Stefano Benazzi, getting the highest grade (110 cum laude).
At the beginning of my career I have focused my attention on the archaeological field. In fact I have dug in many places, most of them were Medieval sites, but I have dug too in a protohistoric site, the necropolis of Sinaw in the Sultanate of Oman.
After my return from Oman I have started my internship at the Anthropological Laboratory and in this period I have learned the basic skills for the study of human remains.
Later I have started the project of my Master thesis about morphological description and morphometric analyses of Torrener Bärenhöhle’s human tooth. During this period, I acquired solid knowledge of paleoanthropology and virtual anthropology as various digital techniques to analyse human remains. For the project of my thesis I have been in the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, thanks to a scholarship I won, to segment fossils comparison sample.
After my graduation I have started to write the article about the thesis that was published on the Journal of Human Evolution in 2016.
The tooth was found in a cave near Salzburg called Torrener Bärenhöhle, located by an alpine guide in 1924. In the cave were found mainly animal bones belonging to Ursus spaleus, hence the name of the cave, in fact Bärenhöhle means cave bear. Most of this bones were manipulated by humans, for this reason this place was interpreted as a place for bear hunting.
The first publication of the tooth was in 1971, when the tooth was classified as Homosapiens, but in 1991 Mr. Urbanek attributed it to Homo neanderthalensis for the material culture of the cave. The need to classify this tooth stems from these controversies.
In this contribution, I investigated the tooth from Torrener Bärenhöhle’s cave. This tooth was micro-CT scanned to digitally study its external and internal morphology, and sampled for AMS radiocarbon dating to establish its taxonomy and chronology.
For more read my article on this link and my poster.
The thesis on the O(perative)S(ystem)-Culture.org project was finally discussed on March 21th 2018 by Tommaso Saccone, my partner in crime, in work and life.
Fifty years have passed since the first computers and IT tools were adopted in the archaeological field for study and research activities.
In fact, in the 60s of the last century, the Professor Maurizio Tosi with the archaeological mission (ISMEO – ISIAO) in Shahr-i Sokhta (Iran) began to use the first computers for the elaboration of databases for the organization of the archaeological record using the historical formats .db3.
Since then, technology has made great strides, in fact from table .db3 we have moved to complex and articulated Geo Databases that can contain terabytes of heterogeneous data, all geo referenced and in constant relation between them.
Soon, tools such as 3D modelling, the development of GIS and BIM, for the study of the territory, will also give great impetus to the methodology of archaeological documentation thus aligning with the European directives that manage spatial planning and public works.
There are two questions that have been the starting point of this project:
How to acquire, process and communicate this vast and heterogeneous core of data?
How to archive this data to make it immediately reusable?
They have tried to answer these questions by developing a tool for archiving and communicating the archaeological and cultural data “O (prerative) S (ystem) -Culture.org”, a CMS useful to communicate the complexity of archaeological data thanks to digital technologies.
The idea for this project was born in 2012, in collaboration with the Professor Maurizio Tosi, who would soon retire, and who wanted to find a way to make the data acquired during his career accessible.
To date OS-Culture.org has been used to organize: part of Professor Tosi’s personal archives and for the management and communication of archaeological data and information from the Italian Archaeological Mission in Armenia and the Caucasus (MAA-ISMEO) and from the Institute of Archeology of Yerevan – Armenia (IAE NAS RA).
Following the Bachelor thesis of Tommaso Saccone “GIS software in comparison: the case of the Pieve di Santa Reparata, Terra del Sole (FC)”, it was decided to continue working with open source software to keep production costs low and at the same time have the possibility to modify the source code, so, if necessary, to adapt the software to the needs of the OS-Culture.org project.
The final goal of OS-Culture.org is to offer an instrument, from simple and immediate use, that allows the complete management of the archaeological documentation process, always maintaining the authorship of the data.
Saturday, March 10th, me and my colleague of the Minerva Association were to visit the archaeological park of Ostia Antica.
While we were making tickets, I decided to buy a small guide called “Ostia Antica: a port for Rome” with annexed reconstructions. The guide initially presents the index and a map, then follows a brief introduction to the various phases of the site, and a brief explanation for each location of the route even if they are not told all the places that will meet during the visit.
According to the literature, the city of Ostia was founded by King Anco Marcio at the end of the VII century BC. However, the most ancient structures brought to light during the archaeological research can be dated back to the beginning of the IV century BC. It is hypothesized that the realization occurred at a time after the conquest of Veio, Etruscan center, completed in 396 BC. The excavations also returned findings and traces of huts related to an earlier phase, probably dated to V century BC.
So, it is very probable that there existed an initial foundation of Ostia, perhaps to be found in an area not yet explored. Certain is the antiquity of the frequentation of the area, justified by the significant role that this part of the left bank of the Tiber covered in the salt trade. Here, there was the last part of the salary route which was of vital importance for the Sabine populations, who could only reach the salt flats at the mouths of the Tiber just by following it. Since the VIII-VII BC. Rome showed interest in this strategic importance. in fact, it is necessary to read in the struggles between Romans against Latins and Etruscans the intention to extend the roman dominion to the sea, followed by Ostia foundation in the VII century BC. that represent the reflection of this historical reality.
The archaeological site is truly spectacular, unique and immense. Unfortunately, these exceptional characteristics are not totally enhanced by the path itself. First, the whole area is dirty and overwhelmed by vegetation. The trail is not reported, except for the architectural structures that run along the decumanus, but beyond these other fantastic areas, even though they are marked on the map, sometimes there are unattainable or in other cases have led us to get lost along the way. Moreover, many areas we have not been able to visit because they are not very well signposted. Second, almost all the mosaics, especially the most important, are protected by sheets, and therefore not appreciable.
Halfway around you can stop, in fact the park offers a refreshment point, services and bookshop. In front of this area there is the Ostiense museum, where the statues found during the excavations are preserved, like the original copy of the statue of Minerva-Vittoria, found at the attic of Porta Romana, dated to the I century AD, or as the statue of the Emperor Trajan, found at the Schola di Traiano, dated to the II century AD.
After the break we continued for another two hours inside the park. Following the decumanus and appreciating all the structures along the main road. In a branch of the decumanus, in via della Foce, we lost between Casa di Amore e Psiche and the Temple of Hercules. For this reason we appreciating very quickly the Christian Basilica, the Schola del Traiano and all those the whole thing located on the opposite side of the decumanus, unable to finally visit the Synagogue which is the last of the buildings.
The experience was magnificent but an archaeological park of that size and importance would deserve greater attention to communication as well as the site itself.