Pompeii [part I]


The eruption of Vesuvius on 24 August, AD 79 covered Pompeii with a layer of ash which, though destroying the living town, preserved its remains and made its excavation a relatively straightforward matter. Not all of it has been uncovered, but what has gives us a far more complete concept of a Classical town than anywhere else; nowhere else approaches it. The fact that it was destroyed by a single natural disaster which rendered it largely (though not totally) inaccessible to the survivors and to succeeding generations means that what we have has not been altered, by later demolition, by the construction of buildings for later generations, and that by uncovering it what has been discovered is a unity, fixed in time. We can see Pompeii as it was on that fateful day, whereas all the other cities in this book are only partial survivals, with buildings and other evidence often belonging to widely separate periods in their existence.

pompeii-aerial-viewPompeii, in origin, was Italian rather than Roman, and even when it was assimilated fully into the Roman system, it remained essentially nonmetropolitan, a typical country town dependent largely on its own resources and serving its own locality. It benefited, obviously, from being part of the Roman system, and its prosperity was that of the Roman world at large. It did not, however, command the resources of the capital, and though its fortunes reflected the wider pattern of historical development in Italy, they also reflected the patterns of the region.

The origins are to be sought in the impact of urbanism, the formation of recognisable cities that resulted from the establishment of Greek colonies in the area of the Bay of Naples, places such as Cumae and Naples itself. This goes back to the eighth century BC. Pompeii was never Greek. Its original inhabitants were the existing Italic peoples of the area, the Oscans, though it was close to the Greek-settled areas. The site lies near the mouth of the River Sarno, which in antiquity made a substantial loop round the eastern side of the town before entering the sea. The nucleus was an elevated part of this area, with steep sides sloping down to the water, which afforded reasonable protection. On this a small walled town was built, with what appears already to have been a grid plan of streets, with an open area (a forum) at its centre.


The area enclosed measured some 7.5 ha, the length of the perimeter being less than a kilometre. Just outside this area, to the east and above the cliff, a piece of land later incorporated into the city and known today as the ‘triangular’ forum already constituted a religious site, a sanctuary of uncertain dedication. Another sanctuary, dedicated to Apollo, stood by the side of the forum, and was already developed in the sixth century BC.

The date of the foundation of Pompeii is not certain, but the seventh century BC seems likely, when Greek settlement was already established in the area and therefore able to provoke both a reaction and at the same time, imitation. The foundation proved successful and soon expanded eastwards over an area where there are indications of burials, and which would therefore originally have been outside the town. This took in land extending from the hill to a valley which drops down to the river, perhaps already a line of communication which became a natural boundary to the expanded town. The effect of this boundary, and the walls which lined it, is still clearly visible in the latest stage of the city plan, in its fully developed form prior to the eruption of the volcano. It is clear that the boundary was a very firm one, and traces of the walls that followed it have been found. With this expansion, the ‘triangular forum’ was now incorporated within the city limits. The date of this initial expansion seems to be the sixth century BC. Fill in the grubbed out line of its wall includes material of the fourth century, indicating that Pompeii remained in this form for some 200 years, which explains how it came to be so definitively imprinted even in the final plan.

pompeii forum planFrom this nucleus the city developed considerably to the north and east, to be included in a much larger fortification wall. The date for this is the fourth century BC, at a time when the Greek cities in Italy were in decline, and the brief Empire of Dionysius I of Syracuse offered little protection. This, presumably, enabled the non-Greek population of the area, particularly the Samnites, to increase their independence of the Greeks, and so to prosper. Even so, Greek ideas of town-planning, and the creation of regular grids in the developing non-Greek cities, were employed. The blocks so formed in the town plans, moreover, were of the elongated form which was typical of the West Greek cities. The new plan of Pompeii was not absolutely regular. It may have been achieved in stages, and certainly has been subjected to some modification. The city wall, in pseudo-isodomic limestone, was of Greek inspiration. It was subsequently rebuilt and improved. The extent to which the newly included area was immediately built up is uncertain; not all of it has been excavated, and some parts may have been left relatively open, houses having gardens attached to them. But the tendency was for the town to become increasingly built up and for increasing numbers to be accommodated within it.


Traces of houses going back to the fourth century BC have been found, usually not complete but as fragments incorporated into later structures. There was constant rebuilding and redevelopment, some houses extending their area by incorporating neighbouring property, others contracting, perhaps not so much in line with general changes in the fortunes of the community as the prosperity or failure of individual families. Certainly the Hellenistic period, with the city essentially part of the Samnite orbit was one of prosperity, and leading Samnite families in Pompeii were living in some luxury.

The final phase of the city began with its involvement in the rebellion of the Italian allies against the domineering power of Rome, early in the first century BC. The Roman commander, Sulla, was ruthless in his suppression of the revolt, and as punishment Pompeii was turned into a Roman colony. Many of the Italian inhabitants, particularly the more well-to-do who would have formed the ruling aristocracy, were dispossessed, and new settlers brought in. The social change must have been considerable, but in archaeological terms the city continued. Pompeii continued to prosper and develop, though it did not increase in size, any rise in population being accounted for by increased density of habitation in some areas, though by no means all, and expansive houses continued to exist. The prosperity and increased stability were marked by the development of houses outside the protection of the walls. Here, freed from restrictions of space and the grid alignments of the streets, and the existence of property boundaries long since established, much more sumptuous and spreading forms of habitation could be developed.

pompeii bakery

Throughout this long period there was apparently no indication that Vesuvius was a volcano. There were no eruptions, and though there were other manifestations of what we know to be volcanic activity, these were not enough to cause alarm. Presumably there were earthquakes, and damage caused by them may be another explanation of the replacement of houses, but again, this would seem to have been slight, or at least unremarkable for the area. But in AD 62 there was a major tremor which caused considerable damage, particularly in the old centre of the town. This, again with hindsight, was a preliminary to the great eruption seventeen years later. What is important to observe is that many public buildings, some of them major, were still unrepaired when the eruption took place, something which suggests that there was a shortage of funds available to the city at this time.

Pompeii is often regarded as having been a fairly low-class or even vulgar place. This is probably unfair, and results from comparison with the excavated areas of its near neighbour, Herculaneum, where houses of a more luxurious type, and with indications of a higher sense of style, have been revealed. It must be remembered that only a limited part of one-quarter of Herculaneum has been uncovered, which may not be typical of the whole, while at Pompeii we have most of the settlement, and can see its inhabitants at all their various levels. Certainly the very well-to-do, people of the highest rank, even connected with the Imperial family who had houses in this area, did not live at Pompeii but in rural villas such as that at Oplontis. Even the local well-to-do of Pompeii may have preferred to live outside the town. The conversion of luxurious houses into industrial or semi-industrial establishments, which is attested at Pompeii, may indicate a change in personal fortune, or perhaps a desire to escape from a place which may have seemed less than safe after the earthquake.


All in all, Pompeii was probably typical of a long-established Italian town of a type which, but for the chance of the eruption, would normally be lost to our understanding, except in a most fragmentary state. All cities in the ancient world are obviously subject to change, and all the indications are that Pompeii itself was changing at the time it was buried. If the eruption had occurred ten or twenty years later, then what would have been buried would not have been identical to what we have. So the remains are by no means definitive; they reveal, simply, what existed on that fateful day in AD 79, and thus provide a completely different insight into the realities of the ancient world.

When it was destroyed, the city in the strict sense was largely defined by its Hellenistic walls, the system which, with renewals and improvements, goes back to the fourth-century enlargement. These no longer functioned militarily, and in places had been breached by later development. They were still an embellishment, and the gates through them marked the moment of entry into the city. Outside them were the cemeteries, and particularly to the north-west, unrestricted by the river, the suburban development of spacious villas. The gates led to the principal streets. At the south-west the Porta Marina (the names, as of the streets, are mostly modern) led by the short Via Marina eastwards into the forum, with its line continued beyond the forum by the Via dell’ Abondanza, which formed one of the two principal east-west streets, leaving on the east side of the town at the Porta di Sarno. The other east-west street was parallel to the main section of the Via dell’ Abondanza, and began at the Porta di Nola. The main street across the city, because of its staged development not quite at right-angles to the Via dell’ Abondanza, was the Via Stabiana/Via Vesuvio line, running from the Porta di Stabia in the south to the Porta di Vesuvio at the north. The original town, of course, lay to the west of this street. It was here that the majority of the important public buildings were concentrated.

Central to these was the forum. This now took the long, narrow form which was found in other developed planned cities in Italy such as Ostia, extending northwards to the limits of the original town. Here at Pompeii it dated to a reorganisation in the second century BC. It was virtually rectangular, except at its northern end which followed the line of the old city wall and its successor street. Its rectangle was defined by colonnades to the west, south and east, with a hexastyle podium temple, the capitolium, dominating the north end and obscuring, like the temple of Mars Ultor in Augustus’ forum at Rome, the irregularity of the end behind it. At the time of the eruption the temple was still in ruins from the earthquake.

pompeii capitolium

The forum was surrounded by other buildings of public importance. On the centre of the west side was the temple of Apollo; this sanctuary seems to have existed before the sixth century BC, and the first temple was built in that century. The final temple probably dates to the second century BC. It was peripteral with four-sided Ionic capitals supporting an entablature with a triglyph frieze. It was damaged in the earthquake, but not severely, and in the course of the subsequent repairs the capitals were converted into Corinthian with added stucco work. It stood in its own courtyard, which it almost filled, leaving little more than a forecourt and passageways round the side and back. Next to this was one of the most interesting of Pompeii’s public buildings, the basilica, a rectangular structure with one of its ends, rather than the side, placed facing onto the forum. This again is second century BC in date, one of the oldest examples of this category of building in Italy. It was divided into a nave and aisles by a four-sided internal Corinthian colonnade supporting an overall roof. At the end opposite the forum entrance (which was open) was an elaborately embellished platform, the tribunal. The basilica was also in a ruined state when the eruption took place.


On the east side of the forum, at the north end by the side of the capitolium, was the market building, not completely repaired. Then, next to this, an openfronted precinct, probably serving a cult, which may have been that of the Bona Dea, also left in ruins after the earthquake. Then, sandwiched between the precinct and the next building, a temple dedicated to the cult of the Emperor Vespasian. Next, the courtyard building of Eumachia, a priestess, dedicated to Augustus and his wife Livia, and finally, at the end, the comitium. Three small administrative buildings were placed side by side along the southern end. Other public buildings were in the vicinity of the forum. In the south-west corner, and adjacent to the basilica, was the precinct and temple of Venus, badly damaged in the earthquake, and unrestored.


At the crossing of the street leading north from behind the forum and the Via della Fortuna was a small temple of Fortuna Augusta, again in a ruined state after the earthquake. In the block on the other side of the forum street was one of the public bath buildings, the Forum Baths, originally put up at the time of Sulla’s foundation of the Roman colony. These were of the usual, asymmetric type, with an exercise yard attached. They are well preserved, and unlike so many of the temples had been fully restored by the time of the eruption. The hot room, which is apsidal and vaulted, has an interesting banded treatment to its ceiling. The side of this block actually facing the Forum Street is a set of shops backing on to the bath complex.



Remains of 5,500-year-old human settlement found in Peru

peruA team of Peruvian and German archaeologists has discovered the remains of a human settlement 5,500 years old near the southern town of Nazca, south of Lima, the capital daily El Comercio reported Sunday.

The archaeologists, who are members of the Nazca-Palpa project, said that the discovery was made in a sector known as Pernil Alto, some 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Palpa.

The project is headed by Peruvian archaeologists Johny Isla Cuadrado and Elsa Tomasto, and by Germany’s Markus Reindel.

“The find consists of a group of homes in which 19 graves were found, including the remains of a child younger than 1 year old with possible evidence of having been mummified,” said the daily.

The paper went on to say that the find is the first discovery in southern Peru of an inhabited site corresponding to the late portion of the archaic period some 3,500 years before Christ.

One of the project researchers said that the excavations made at the site since last October enabled the team to find the remains of eight small oval-shaped and circular homes made by digging deep pits in the ground.

Also found were up to 19 graves of children and adults interred individually inside the homes, which would seem to indicate that they were buried there after the homes were abandoned.

In some of the graves, archaeologists found carved bones and snail-shells, deer horns, necklaces and bracelets made from shells, but there was no concrete evidence of offerings to the dead or to deities.

The researchers are seeking to expand their knowledge about the culture of southern Peru in the early epochs from about 5,500 years ago up to the Inca civilization in the 16th century.

The project is being funded by the German Education and Science Ministry, the Archaeological Commission for Extra-European Cultures and the German Archaeological Institute.


Viking hunting outpost on Greenland

Ruins recently discovered on Greenland may mark the Vikings’ most northerly year-round hunting outpost on the icy island, a researcher said on Monday.

Knut Espen Solberg, leader of ‘The Melting Arctic’ project mapping changes in the north, said the remains uncovered in past weeks in west Greenland may also be new evidence that the climate was less chilly about 1,000 years ago than it is today.

‘We found something that most likely was a dock, made of rocks, for big ships up to 20-30 metres (60-90 ft) long,’ he told Reuters by satellite phone from a yacht off Greenland. He said further study and carbon dating were needed to pinpoint the site’s age.

Viking accounts speak of hunting stations for walrus, seals and polar bears in west Greenland. Inuit hunters also lived in the area.

‘This is the furthest north on Greenland that evidence of year-round Viking activity has been found,’ Solberg said of the finds in an area called Nuussuaq. ‘At the time the Vikings were living here it was warmer than today.’

In a Medieval warm period, trees and crops grew on parts of Greenland. The Vikings disappeared in the 14th century, coinciding with a little-understood shift to a cooler climate.

Solberg said that the expedition, linked to Norwegian climate research institutes and including an archaeologist, reckoned the dock was probably built by Vikings because the Inuit only used small kayaks and had no need for a large quay.

The team, which came upon the ruins during their expedition, also found remains of several small stone buildings nearby. Both Inuit and Vikings had similar building styles.

Christian Keller, a professor of archaeology at Oslo University, was quoted as telling the daily Aftenposten that the buildings were similar to Viking structures in west Norway but that the dock was unlike known Viking quays.

Any carbon dating placing the site between 900-1400 would make it ‘an exciting find’ from the Vikings, he said. A later date could mean it was built by European whalers in the 16th century.

Solberg said Vikings in Greenland were unlikely to have built with wood, traditionally used in Scandinavia for docks. A wooden structure would not have survived thick winter ice.

He also said that modern climate change, blamed mainly on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, was bringing erosion to archaeological sites on Greenland.

Warmer summers mean fewer days with ice on the sea, increasing a battering of waves on the shore, while permafrost is also thawing. Seas have also been rising, largely because of a long-term coastal subsidence unrelated to climate change.

Article retrieved from here.

The Celts


Celts were a people who inhabited western and central Europe during the pre-Roman Iron Age (first millennium BC). Nineteenth-century European archaeologists divided Celtic cultural material into two periods: Hallstatt (800-500 BC) and La Tene (480-15 BC). This division was named for two sites containing objects that display distinctive decorative motifs identified with Celtic artisans. It is also based on the replacement of bronze by iron as the predominant metal for weapons and other tools.

Evidence of Celtic culture has been found from the British Isles to western Romania and from the Northern European Plain, south to the Po Valley in northern Italy and into Spain. Investigations of Celtic life ways and language, as well as their origin and demise, have been undertaken by historians, geographers, archaeologists, and linguists since as early as 500 BC. Debate exists as to whether “Celtic” is even a valid referent, as there is no evidence to suggest that populations that have been identified as Celtic considered themselves members of a coherent group.

Classical sources referred to the occupants of southern France as Gauls; they, along with the Galatae (Galatians) who invaded Macedonia and Greece, are presumed to be Celts. Julius Caesar recognized similarities between Celts of the British Isles and Gauls, though other sources, including Pytheas of Massalia who sailed the Celtic Atlantic in the second half of the fourth century BC, failed to make an association between the two groups. Material culture between the insular Celts of Britain and Continental Celts shows a distinct connection, however, with insular Celtic craft producers rapidly adopting Continental styles and then adapting them to their own tastes.

There is a consensus among scholars that the origins of Celtic culture may be found within the Urnfield cultural tradition (also known as the Hallstatt Bronze Age), as early as 1300 BC. Changes observable both in material culture and settlement distribution took place during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries BC at the time of the collapse of the Hittite Empire and the end of the Mycenaean civilization. Movements of large numbers of people along established trade routes are associated with this period, and they may account for the arrival of new skills and ideas, along with archaeologically observable increases in population density, evident from artifacts found in villages that were established at that time.

While proto-Celtic Urnfield populations exhibited a variety of local traditions, subsequent Hallstatt and later La Tene material culture became increasingly homogeneous. Artifacts provide evidence for broadly defined regional traditions such as those seen in Champagne, the West Hallstatt chiefdoms of Baden-Wurttemberg, the middle Rhineland, the salt mining districts of Hallstatt and Hallein-Durrnberg, and northern Italy, to name a few.

Across western and south-central Europe, burials contained weapon sets adorned with similar patterns, and wealth objects indicate gift exchange relationships with Mediterranean civilizations. At about 500 BC a transformation of stylistic elements used to decorate metal and ceramic objects swept across south-central and western Europe. This increasingly uniform cultural material is associated with the beginning of the Late Iron Age and has been identified with “Celtic art.”


The earliest written reference to Celts is from about 500 BC, when Keltoi are introduced in the work of Hecataeus of Miletus, a geographer writing in Greek. In one of his few surviving passages, he indicated that the people living beyond the land of the Ligurians, in whose territory the port colony of Massalia (present-day Marseille) had been established, were Celts. Fifth-century sources such as Hecataeus and Herodotus did not provide ethnographic information about the Celts, though their work makes it apparent that Celts were known to inhabit the periphery of the Greek world. Sources from the fourth century BC, including Ephorus, Plato, Aristotle, Theopompus, and Ptolemy, characterize Celts in ways that accentuated their fighting and drinking prowess.

These descriptions of warrior Celts eager for combat were written during a period of displacement and social upheaval that coincided with Celtic migrations. Rome was sacked by Gauls around 390 BC, and around 279 BC. Delphi became the target of Galatian invaders who looted the sanctuary. These attacks immortalized Celts as barbarian aggressors in the psyche of Roman and Greek citizens. At various times throughout the fourth and third centuries BC Celts served as mercenaries in Carthaginian, Etruscan, Greek, and Roman armies.

Early historic depictions of Celtic culture indicate that theirs was an oral tradition, carefully managed by priests (druids), bards, and poets. Linguistic studies of Celtic languages began in the eighteenth century AD and concentrated on surviving insular Celtic (spoken Celtic languages of the British Isles and Brittany). Celtic languages on the Continent disappeared in antiquity and are only known from inscriptions. Celts were mostly preliterate and adopted Greek and Latin alphabets for writing, beginning in the Late Iron Age. Third- and second century BC inscriptions on pottery and coinage bear Celtic names using Greek and Latin letters. Exceptions to this adapted use of a foreign language for writing exist in several places, however: in Spain, in the form of Celtiberic; in southern France, where the language is Gaulish; and across northwestern Italy, where Lepontic inscriptions predate Roman influence. Modern linguists speculate that these were languages of Celtic origin that continued to be used as a means of resisting cultural assimilation.


Archaeological evidence indicates that the Celtic economy was based primarily on agriculture and maintenance of domesticated stock, though raiding and trading also figured prominently. Wheat and other cereal grains were subsistence staples and were supplemented with legumes, fruits, and berries, both wild and cultivated. Cows, pigs, sheep, and goats constitute the bulk of animal remains at Celtic settlement sites both large and small, but the predominant species vary within different regions. Horses and dogs appear to have had a special place among the Celts and are frequently found in burials with and without human occupants, although occasionally it appears that dogs were butchered for consumption.

Celtic social organization was largely defined by a division of labor between agriculturalists and warrior elite, although the general population also included specialized craft producers and professionals within the priestly tradition. Some types of specialization are difficult to identify because of the Celtic belief in the ubiquitous nature of magic, which was thought to be present in all kinds of substances, including iron and coral, but could also be invoked by spells, oaths, and incantations. Skills such as the ability to heal were shared by a number of otherwise seemingly unrelated specialists. For example, metalsmiths were presumed to have curative powers, as were druids. Similarly, druids, bards (Lat. vatis), and poets were all shamans of a sort, though their skills and abilities were assumed to have differed. Often this was expressed as a difference in degree rather than in kind.

A warrior was a type of full-time specialist in the service of a paramount chief. Burials of the warrior aristocracy provide evidence for wealth and the long distance movement of prestige goods. Not least among the remarkable aspects of princely burials (Fürstengräber) of the Hallstatt Iron Age is the scale of labor that was mobilized for the construction and furnishing of the graves. In the latter part of the La Tene Iron Age, this practice was replaced by the monumental construction of defensive fortifications surrounding proto-urban settlements called oppida.


Iron Age settlement patterns across Celtic Europe vary but reveal several prominent trends. Settlements during the earlier Hallstatt period included enclosed hillforts such as Mont Lassois, the Heuneburg, Ipf, and Hohenasperg in the west, and Zavist in Bohemia. Alternatively, ditched and palisaded farmsteads (Herrenhöfe) were the dominant Hallstatt form along the Danube in Bavaria and in other locations removed from hillforts. Individual houses on the Continent were square, whereas in Britain they were round. Following the general collapse of the so-called princely seats (Fürstensitze) by 450 BC, centralized settlement disbursed, and most of the elevated hillforts were abandoned. Throughout the beginning of the La Tene period, valley and river terraces provided the location for small villages. Several hundred years elapsed before populations once again aggregated to establish the prominently located and fortified centers that Caesar identified as oppida. Like earlier hillfort settlements, oppida were ideally situated for defense, trade, and industry.

Production of iron implements-weapons, farm tools, construction tools, and medical instruments- transformed many aspects of society, especially warfare and agricultural practices. Unlike the components of the alloy bronze, iron is plentiful across Europe. Production of iron tools intensified from the Hallstatt to the La Tene, and development of the plowshare and coulter contributed to the movement of farms and villages from the uplands, where light loess sediments had been tilled for millennia, to the heavier but more productive soils of valley bottoms. Enhanced yields provided surpluses that were bartered for items made by the increasingly specialized craft producers. Production and market centers that attracted artisans, traders, and farmers were similar to later emporia. Some even included merchant’s stalls, storage facilities, and meeting places, along with residences.

Contact with Mediterranean traders waxed and waned during the centuries of Celtic European domination. The apparent replacement of gift exchange, involving prestige items and luxury goods, by importation of bulk commodities and high quality goods that were more widely distributed among the population, attests to the strength of a trade infrastructure. Increases in minting and transfer of coinage were promoted by returning mercenaries who had been exposed to civilizations around the Mediterranean, where coins were circulated in true market economies.


Roman conquest of the Celts began in Gaul in the early second century BC with the founding of Aquilea in 181 BC, followed by the annexation of the rest of Gallia Cisalpina (Cisalpine Gaul). The establishment of the province Gallia Narbonensis (Narbonne) in southern France in 118 BC was part of the expanding acquisition of territory westward to Spain. Over the next one hundred years Roman provincial governors (proconsuls), including Gaius Marius and Julius Caesar, engaged in a series of battles and skirmishes aimed at gaining and holding territories as far north as present day Holland and east to the Rhine. Further conquest acquired Germany south of the Danube in 15 BC and southern Britain in AD 43. Continental Celts who had survived the battles for territorial dominion were largely assimilated into the Roman Empire over the next three hundred years as their culture was completely reorganized by Roman occupation. The Roman strategy that utilized preexisting social hierarchies and invested authority in cooperative local leaders served to absorb influential Celts into the new economy and system of government.

Archaeological evidence indicates that resistance to Romanization was present among Celts living on the margins of the empire, or even within it, in areas under weak Roman control. These included remote areas such as the East Anglian fenlands and wetland environments where dwellings on crannogs (artificial islands) made Roman administration nearly impossible. Such enclaves preserved traditional Celtic lifeways into the era of Christianization (in the sixth and seventh centuries AD) and beyond.

A late form of Celtic writing found mostly on funerary monuments, the so-called Ogham script, was used in the post-Roman fifth to ninth centuries AD. Stelae bearing this type of inscription have been found in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, and in Cornwall. The insular Celts who remained outside the Roman Empire retained their languages, oral histories, and artistic styles into the medieval period. This facilitated a migration of Celtic cultural attributes from Ireland and Britain back to areas under Roman and later Germanic influence, including areas where Celtic cultural practices had nearly been extinguished. The Brythonic linguistic survival on the Breton peninsula resulted from a migration in the fifth century AD of Celtic speakers from Cornwall to the Continent.

Throughout the spread of Christianity, the monastic tradition preserved Celtic linguistic and artistic expression and disseminated Celtic influenced early Christian ideology across southern Britain and, on the Continent, into northern Italy. Surviving Celtic languages, including Scottish Gaelic and Irish in the Goidelic group, and Welsh and Breton in the Brythonic group, are all descended from insular Celtic culture.


Audouze, Francoise, and Olivier Buchsenschutz. Towns, Villages, and Countryside of Celtic Europe: From the Beginning of the Second Millennium to the End of the First Century B.C. 1992.

Collis, John. The European Iron Age, 1984.

Cunliffe, Barry. The Ancient Celts, 1997.

Green, Miranda J., ed. The Celtic World, 1995.

Moscati, Sabatino, et al., eds. The Celts, 1991.

BUTRINT – Albania

gr. Βουθρωτόν              lat. Buthrotum

Butrint occupies the small Ksamili peninsula between the straits of Corfu and Lake Butrint. Due to such a strategic position on the Mediterranean Sea, there were many military operations for the control of the area from the first Peloponese war (V century BC) until the Napoleonic wars (XIX century).

Butrint was controlled by the tribe which was part of the Greek Epirot Federation. Colonists from Corcyra settled in Butrint around the IV century BC. Within a century of the Greeks arriving, Butrint had become one of the ancient world’s major fortified maritime trade centres with its own acropolis

Butrint then came under the control of the Illyrians anxious to control the maritime trade and during the 3rd Macedonian war in 167 BC, the city was conquered by the Romans. The Romans used the port as a supply base for military campaigns in Epirus and Macedonia in the II century BC and area was afterwards “romanised”. With the creation of the Byzantine Empire in the East, Butrint was therein enveloped and remained part of the Empire until the latter’s fall at the hands of the Turks in 1453.

Barbarians, Vandals, Slavs, Goths invaded the city, the Slavs settling there from the VII century until the Byzantines expelled them in the IX century…[read more]


Butrint was nominated as a World Heritage Site


Butrint’s nomination was deferred


Butrint designated as a World Heritage Site


Butrint was put on the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger


Office for the protection of the World Heritage Site of Butrint created


Extension of the Butrint protected zone


Butrint National Park established


Inscribed on the Ramsar


Butrint removed from World Heritage Site in Danger list

In 1972 UNESCO adopted the Convention ‘Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’ and under its auspices introduced the World Heritage List. Butrint was nominated as a World Heritage Site in 1990 but in May 1991 ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) recommended that its inclusion be deferred to await verification of various definitions and plans relating to its protection. By 1992 ICOMOS was satisfied that all the protective requirements were in place and they recommended that Butrint – the intramural area covering 16 hectares – be included on the World Heritage List on the basis of criterion iii .

In 1997 civil unrest prompted ICOMOS to recommend that further action regarding the protection of the site was essential and Butrint was put on the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. As a result a workshop for the definition of the past, present and future of the site was held in 1998 which led to the Albanian Government creating an office for the protection of the Butrint Site. In 1999 ICOMOS asked to extend the buffer zone of the site for fear of uncontrolled tourist development in a small area on the coast. The protected zone was therefore extended under the existing criterion (iii) on condition that the State Party withdrew plans for this development. The establishment of the Butrint National Park in 2000 gave the site new legal status and protected an area of 29 km², managed by the appointment of a director.

Official Butrint Website

Butrint on WHC site

The Butrint Foundation

Butrint rediscovered