Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman mausoleum under an illegal toxic waste dump near Naples.
The sprawling 2nd-century AD tomb, complete with stucco work and decorations, was found under nearly 60 tonnes of refuse illicitly piled up in 17th-century ruins at Pozzuoli, site of the ancient Roman seaside town of Puteolanum.
Police with diggers cleared away the top level of garbage and unearthed an underground tunnel leading into the mausoleum which archaeologists described as "of extraordinary interest".
The owner of the site and the man who leased it from him are being investigated for crimes against the environment and Italy's cultural heritage, the news agency Ansa reported yesterday.
"Once again we see an illegal and uncivil act of huge proportions from the point of view of the environment and our cultural history," said Michele Buonomo, president of the Legambiente environmental pressure group. "The operation is testimony to the neglect and abandonment of our patrimony." In recent years unsightly garbage has even appeared around the world-famous site of Pompei. Pozzuoli is a pretty fishing port whose Latin name meant "malodorous" because of the presence of sulphur vapours.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies