Washington, Dec 24 (ANI): Italian police have found the long-sought "treasure of Satricum", consisting of more than 500 delicate miniature pots crafted about 2,600 years ago, in a farmer's bookshelf.
According to a report in Discovery News, the "treasure" was discovered during a police investigation in the countryside near the village of Campoverde di Aprilia, some 25 miles south of Rome.
The archaeological squad of the Carabinieri police noticed suspicious mounds, which are typical of a dig, near a small lake known as "Laghetto del Monsignore".
After spotting fragments of pottery in the soil, the Carabinieri placed the farmer who was working that land under investigation.
"He told us that he had found just a few fragments. Given the fact that he had already violated the law by not reporting to authorities his finding, we did not believe him and searched his house. Indeed, we seized 500 well-preserved miniatures," the Carabinieri wrote in a report called "Operation: Satricum."
Meticulously stored in a bookshelf in the farmer's house, the miniature jars were made of Italo-Corinthian pottery and Etruscan bucchero pottery, a kind of ceramic made in the Etruscan region between the 7th and 5th centuries B.C.
They were thrown into the lake, which is fed by a perennial spring, as votive offers during ritual festivities.
"The lake was basically an open votive deposit. The Latin-speaking people who lived there offered their ceramic artifacts to a deity probably connected to the spring. We believe that a 7th to 6th century B.C. sanctuary can be found at its bottom," said Stefano De Caro, director of archaeology at the Italian Culture Ministry.
Symbolic of storage and cooking vessels that were used in daily life, the miniature jars may have contained food, liquid offerings and perfumes that were dedicated to the lake deity.
"The Laghetto del Monsignore is a most important open-air sanctuary where the Latin peoples living in the surrounding areas dedicated offerings from the early Iron Age onward," said Peter A.J. Attema, director of the Pontine Region Project and professor in classical and Mediterranean archaeology at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands.
"It is of the utmost importance that the looted material be studied by specialists, and it is hoped that a regular excavation will be started to save what is left of this unique find," he added. (ANI)