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7 February 2012
Archaeologists excavate ancient Populonia

A team of archaeologists, students and volunteers will return again during the summer of 2012 to investigate the remains of a major Etruscan port city that straddles the Mediterranean coast of Tuscany, Italy. Located near the town of Piombino, it features one of the most important necropolises in the country, as well as an acropolis, a history that goes back to Etruscan settlers around 900 BCE, and a Bronze Age culture that dates to about 1200 BCE. The ancient site is known today as Populonia, a city that was for centuries a prominent Mediterranean centre for iron smelting and trade.
     Co-led by Andrea Camilli (Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Tuscany), Giandomenico De Tommaso (University of Florence), and Carolina Megale (Archeodig Project), they intend to focus their investigation on a section of the lower city that is still intact, where they have identified evidence of a late Roman building and, beneath that, a part of the Etruscan necropolis.
     Populonia is composed of a 'lower city', which includes the necropolis, port remains and evidence of its important metallurgical activities; and an 'upper city', or the Acropolis, which features the remains of houses, temples and other structures, located on the summit of the promontory on which the ancient port city was constructed. The lower city is well-known for its impressive monumental tombs.
     The name of the Etruscan city was Fufluna, after a god, Fufluns. Based on evidence uncovered from the necropolis area, the site was also inhabited earlier by the ancient Villanovans, a people with origins connected to the Urnfield culture of Eastern Europe. The Villanovans are thought to have introduced iron-working to the Italian peninsula. The later Etruscans and Romans mined and worked the polymetallic ores of Campiglia Marittima, which contain iron, zinc, copper, lead, tin and silver. Mining continues in the area today, and the modern mine is said to be descended from the ancient mine.

Edited from Popular Archaeology (29 January 2012)

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