Ancient Roman city revealed by archaeologists

Image: Claus Lunau

Italian scientists have found a way to map a city — despite the fact that it’s been buried for centuries.

The ancient Roman city of Altinum was abandoned between A.D. 400 and 600, when invaders drove out its inhabitants. As the city’s residents moved onto the islands of a nearby lagoon, founding the city of Venice, Altinum was covered by floodwaters and soil. Although archaeologists have long known that Altinum existed just north of Venice, they haven’t been able to get a good look at the remains of the city until now.

In 2007 researchers at the University of Padua took aerial photos of the area during a drought using near-infrared radiation. Healthy plants appeared as a different colour than crops struggling in the dry conditions.

The photos revealed the outlines of Altinum’s structures, with thirsty crops growing in the shallow soil above buildings and walls, and healthy crops growing in the deeper, more hydrated soil above canals and ditches. Now that the researchers have mapped the buried city, it could help them to select excavation sites.

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  1. Interesting, but i wonder at what depth it is?

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