Fiberoptic cable installation uncovers ancient mystery structure

An ancient structure of unknown purpose has been discovered during the laying of fiberoptic cable in the town of Torreano, near Udine in northeastern Italy. It is made of heavy stone slabs — two long walls and a short back topped by a “roof” — forming a rectangle. At first glance, archaeologists thought it was a burial cist, but an excavation of the structure found no evidence it had ever contained human remains. All it contains is silty, muddy soil typical of waterways.

Ancient stone structure of unknown purpose. Photo courtesy Ivano Dorbolo'.

The most plausible hypothesis right now is that it was a causeway, built to allow carts to pass through an ancient water course that flowed through the structure. A culvert or drainpipe is another possibility, but roughly-hewn, heavy stone slabs are not ideal for that job. Given the heavy weight and massive size of the stones, this was probably an infrastructure project of some significance requiring an investment of personnel and raw materials, not something erected quickly by a local farmer.

There is no stratigraphic information to be had in this find, and it is otherwise practically impossible to date a group of heavy stone slabs without associated artifacts or remains amenable to radiocarbon or dendrochronological analysis.┬áIn summary, we don’t know what it is or how old it is, but it’s cool anyway.

The structure has now been reburied for its own protection. The fiberoptic installation proceeds apace.

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