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Archaeo News 

24 December 2015
Standing stones are being stolen in southern Italy

Recently a number of thefts have been reported in Apulia, the region forming the 'heel' of Italy. But this time thieves focused their attention to ancient monuments: namely, standing stones. The latest case deals with Anfiano I, a menhir located in the countryside between the villages of Cannole and Giurdignano, and reported as missing by archaeologist Cristiano Donato Villani. Local authorities discovered a hole in the ground where the stone used to stand, and clear marks of machinery that thieves used to lift the heavy monument.
     A few weeks earlier, another standing stone was missing: the monument called 'Cippo d'Aurio' was located beside a small church in Surbo, near Lecce. Originally discovered by Filippo Montinari, a local expert, the stone was stolen and what is left is just a new hole in the ground.
     But thieves have almost been caught when a third standing stone, the Sombrino menhir that was located near Supersano, was put into a white FIAT Punto car and a few bikers passing by noticed the huge stone protruding from the back of the car. Unfortunately, also this stone disappeared, leaving another empty hole in the countryside.
     It is not clear if these stolen ancient monuments are now in the gardens of some villas, nor if they have been stolen to order; someone has even suggested the existence of an 'Archaeomafia'. In any case, it's a huge loss for the Apulian heritage and it seems unlikely that local authorities will be able to take serious actions to protect those standing stones.
Edited from TR News (24 November 2015), La Repubblica Bari (3 December 2015), Il Fatto Quotidiano (15 December 2015)

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