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31 May 2013
Apulian dolmen under constant threat by vandals

Vandals are keeping damaging and defacing a 3600-year-old monument in Southern Italy. Members of 'Puglia Scoperta', a local cultural association, reported that during their recent visit to the La Chianca dolmen, several large rock fragments have been found inside the corridor leading to the main chamber. It is still not clear if these fragments have been collected from the nearby drystone walls and thrown on the dolmen or if they are the result of heavy hammering to the side stones of the monument. In any case, this remarkable dolmen now lies sadly covered by modern writings amidst garbage.
     La Chianca is probably the most famous dolmen in southern Italy. Located in Apulia, a few km from the town of Bisceglie, this megalithic monument dates back from the 16th Century BCE and it has been the focal point of many vandalic acts. Over the last 15 years or so, the monument has been defaced by many writings made using different markers: permanent black, correction ink pen, ballpoint pen, pencil, water-based coloured markers.
     In 1999 La Chianca dolmen was first cleaned by Giuseppe Daurelio - from the Dept. of Physics, University of Bari - using an innovative laser cleaning technique. Then the monument was restored once again in 2007, when a team composed by G. Daurelio, S. E. Andriani, I. M. Catalano, and A. Albanese removed the new vandalic writings by using a Nd-YAG laser source. Degradation mapping and laser cleaning with photographs, taken before, during and after the process in situ, were carried out at that time, then different laser parameters and techniques were used to remove different ink types.
     Many other prehistoric sites on that region are under the same threat or are getting neglected, and it is very sad to see how those vandalic acts are getting worse. It is hoped that the forthcoming mayor of Bisceglie will be able to make serious steps to protect La Chianca and other ancient monuments in the area.
Edited from Puglia Scoperta (5 May 2013), Bisceglie Live (6 May 2013), Barbadillo (10 May 2013)

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