Rome, July 25 : The tomb of a woman who died around 2,600 years ago on the eastern Italian coast has helped archaeologists to piece together the vast trade network that once linked this area with the Middle East, North Africa and Greece.
Experts working on the tomb, which was found near the port of Ancona, have said that the site contains over 650 artifacts from the 7th century BC, including numerous items made in other parts of the world.
"This tomb is of extraordinary importance, as it contains the only known funerary finds in the area of Conero dating from this time,"' said the Archaeology Superintendent for the Marche region, Giuliano de Marinis.
The pieces demonstrate that an extensive network of contact and trade once linked this section of the Adriatic coast not only to Sicily and southern and central Italy, but also much further afield.
The tomb contains artefacts manufactured in sites as far away as modern-day Egypt, Rhodes, mainland. ccording to De Marinis, "This discovery fills in a big gap in our knowledge and helps define the role this area played in past centuries."
"For example, it shows that items from Greece and the eastern Mediterranean passed through here en route to other parts of the Italian peninsula," he added.
Of particular value are five glazed pottery pendants, which were made in Egypt. Probably used as amulets, they are each six centimetres in length and are shaped like seashells.
Also of special interest are a bowl and lid, intricately decorated with horses, and a cowry disc from the Indian Ocean. The latter was considered a fertility symbol and was reproduced in Ancient Egyptians tombs.
Among the other items contained in the tomb were pendants of ivory, glass paste and amber, scarabs, and belts of buckle and bone.
According to Maurizio Landolfi, the head of the archaeological project, "These items were possibly transported to the Marche along with consignments of amber, which was in great demand for decorating jewellery and homes."