Italy’s new ruins: heritage sites being lost to neglect and looting

Overgrown and weathered, many historical monuments are disappearing as public funds for culture fail to match modern Italys inheritance Legend has it that the grotto hidden among the craggy cliffs on San Marco hill in Sutera in the heart of Sicily holds a treasure chest full of gold coins. In order to find it, three men must dream simultaneously about the precise place to dig. Treasure or no treasure, the grotto itself is an archaeological gem, its walls adorned with a multi-coloured Byzantine-esque 16th-century fresco depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saints Paulinus, Luke, Mark and Matthew. One of the first mountain oratories in the world, it was built by Basilian monks in the 9th century. But time has weathered …

‘Phenomenal’ 2,300-year-old bark shield found in Leicestershire

Archaeologists hail iron age object a marvellous, internationally important find An astonishing and unparalleled 2,300-year-old shield made of tree bark has been discovered in Leicestershire, the only example of its kind ever found in Europe. Archaeologists say the discovery of the shield, made between 395 and 250BC, has completely overturned assumptions about the weapons used in the age, sparking breathless reactions among experts of the period. This is an absolutely phenomenal object, one of the most marvellous, internationally important finds that I have encountered in my career, said Julia Farley, curator of British and European iron age collections at the British Museum. So often it is gold which grabs the headlines, but this bark shield is much rarer. The shield …