Rinvenimento Tomba Sepolcrale – Discovery – Sepulchral Tomb
That was the headline on a statement circulated by the Comune di Pontelandolfo. Italians have a great vocabulary. I had to use the Miriam Webster Dictionary for kids to understand the translation of Sepolcrale – Sepulchral – “relating to the burial of the dead – gloomy”– I would think being buried in an ancient tomb would be pretty dark and gloomy. What is not so gloomy is why they issued a statement. It was the precursor of some pretty exciting news.
On 21 Augusto 2018, in the Pontelandolfo section of Sorgenza, ScaPollici (the company putting mammoth wind turbines on our pristine hills) needed to bury conduits and began digging. I can almost see and hear the scene.
Vroom Vrrom VRRRRRRoooom, roared the backhoe.
“Che fa???? Whoa, what is that – a skull,” queried one of the guys watching the work.
“Cripes, whose it is,” asked the other guy standing and watching the work.
“Stop digging. Turn off the excavator. STOP. STOP. STOP DIGGING,” screamed the head guy standing and watching the work.
Someone alerted the police and the town. Our mayor promptly called the office of the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the province of Caserta and Benevento. This office of the superintendent is the local office of the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Cultualli e de Turismo (Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism.) Quickly, State sanctioned archaeologists raced to Pontelandolfo and supervised the work at the location. Immediately, the front loaders were silenced, and manual excavation began. Our diligent municipal administration was not only updated by archaeologists constantly, but also repeatedly checked out the on-site activity themselves.
The archaeologists dashed off a report to the superintendent. Wham bam, work was suspended in the area and the local Carabinieri were dispatched to guard the location.
I had no idea this was going on and being a gossip hound, I am glad I didn’t. Our Mayor and Council, supporting the requests of the archeologists, kept the information about the site a wee bit secret. During the excavation, the mayor, with the press pressing for information and locals gossiping up a storm did as he was asked and zita, kept his mouth shut. The professionals feared that if a lot of publicity was blasted about the site unauthorized “Raiders of the Lost Ark” type folks might start digging. Historically, artifacts have been looted from the village.
Now the word is officially out and it is incredible news. A 90 cm by 120 cm tomb, presumably from the Roman era, containing the skeleton of an infant was uncovered. The skeleton was subsequently preserved in a safe place. The tomb was covered with steel plates and secured. More archeological sanctioned excavation will occur later.
Why is this great news? Where there was an infant there was a group of people! The importance of this discovery not only brings a sense of historic pride to the community of Pontelandolfo, but also the archeologists confirm what we all thought – there was a presence here of an ancient civilization. This unleashes scores of opportunities!
According to city spokesperson Gabriele Palladino in Pontelandolfo News –
…in the pleasant and spacious plain there was once a prosperous and laughing Pag: The Pagus Herculaneus, or village of Hercules. This rural district of the ancient Roman territory, embellished with marble, glass, mosaics of frescoes, statues, temples, aqueduct, fountains and spas, had life in the Piana…
Now our administration is considering all of the possible opportunities this gives us. Imagine the collaborations with major universities to create an archeological zone! Or the development of a museum to exhibit newly uncovered artifacts and the items already available to us! This is incredibly exciting to me. I envision, yet another reason to visit Pontelandolfo.
Yes, this poor baby’s bones, kept hidden for hundreds of years, could represent a new beginning for a small village in the Sannio Hills