Day 59 The vanished sea

Did you know that the coasts of Tuscany were largely under water in classical times? Today holidaymakers flock to the beach in places where formerly there were bays and lagoons. One of the biggest lagoons was Lake Prile and it extended across the plain around Grosseto. Situated on the north shore of the lagoon was Vetulonia, a major centre of trade in the Etruscan period. The lagoon and its harbours played an important commercial role, but because it gradually silted up we no longer know today where Vetulonia’s ports were located – nor even how far the waters reached in classical times.

The Etruscan town of Vetulonia, viewed from the plain once submerged by the lagoon (Photo: C. Colombi, DAI Rom)

How did the landscape change and what effect did this have on the inhabitants of ancient Vetulonia? Since 2016, a team from the Rome Department has been searching for the Etruscan town’s mooring sites and contributing data to a reconstruction of how the sea vanished. Core sampling and geomagnetic surveys have led to the discovery of possible shoreline infrastructure, which will be investigated in test excavations in autumn 2019.

Find more information about the project: