Google helps discover Roman villa

Luca Mori, an Italian systems analyst who blogs, used Google Earth Maps to rummage around his village of Sorbolo, near Parma (near Bologna). He thought he saw “anomalies.” For the duration of August he measured them, explored them, asked around, and eventually called up professional archeologists.

As they do in Italy, the archeologists had a look, only to find a previously undiscovered Roman villa! Luca has now made it to Italian television news, he writes.

All this is in Italian, but he has numerous posts over the past month detailing his search, including one with a map detailing the “anomalies”.


(Via Intempestiva, who first saw it on TV.)

[Update 15.44 UTC: Being in a bit of a rush earlier, I forgot to add the big picture: This is what you get when you twin deep local knowledge with democratized geographic tools. Anybody else flying over that region would have assumed there was a known local explanation for the anomaly, but it took Luca to know there wasn’t.]

11 thoughts on “Google helps discover Roman villa”

  1. Ancient Roman remains detected through Google Maps

    Fascinating story that I know from Ogle Earth. A blogger in Italy, checking the Google Maps

    satellite imagery of the places that he knows, detects some strange anomalies on the lands of

    Sorbolo, blogs about them, maps them, and then, well, it happens…

  2. Google Earth Helps with Archeologic Discovery

    As written at OgleEarth, Google Earth was used by an Italian systems analyst named Luca Mori to discover a Roman Villa. Apparently he noticed an anomaly near his village of Sorbola and called in some professional archeologists who took a…

  3. Indeed, he wrote that you can see it “especially well with Google Earth,” and that’s true, though earlier he writes that he first saw the anomaly using Google Maps “on my trusty Mac” (‘il mio fido Mac’). So he discovered it on a Mac using Maps..! Intempestiva also refers to the post mentioning Google Earth, which is why I first thought it was a pure Google Earth play.

    Of course, in most areas the image resolution is the same, though you can get closer in Earth than in Maps.

  4. Your remark about democratized geographic tools opening new opportunities… There was a much commented Wired article in August about the past, present and future of the web in which the author, Kevin Kelly, mentions several mapping and locative marvels of the web (as of today) to emphasize the potential that lies ahead (I tried to summarize them here). One of his conclusions: Cartography has gone from spectator art to participatory democracy.

  5. Roman Villa Discovered Via Google Earth

    While searching around his hometown in Google Earth, Luca Mori stumbled on what looked like the meanders of an ancient river. On the satellite image, it looks like “prominent, oval, shaded form more than 500 metres long.“. However, his ey…

  6. You can easily add a comment balloon to appear like this,10.4224+(roman+villa)&spn=0.026288,0.059197&t=k&hl=en

    The easiest way is to:

    1) Double click the map to center your clicked position. then

    2) Click on the EMAIL link to open your email client.

    3) Find the Longitude and Lattitude numbers in the text.

    it will look something like this


    4) Change the %2c to a comma ‘ , ‘

    so it looks like this


    5) Copy and Paste the coordinates into the Google Maps search box.

    6) Also in the Google Maps Search box type the text you want displayed in parentheses after the coordinates, like this {no quotes}:

    ” 44.8819,10.4224 (Roman Villa) ”

    7) Hit Enter, and … Viola!

    Now, Change the text and change the balloon message.

    You MUST have some coordinates, or the text balloon will not take.

  7. CV, you can also use the Tagzania link I made in the body text. Tagzania gives the process you describe an intuitive GUI, and throws in some tags and feeds for nothing:-)

  8. That Roman Villa Discovery Story

    I’m totally the last person to be reporting this. A couple of weeks ago, Ogle Earth pointed to the story of Italian blogger Luca Mori (whose site seems to be down at the moment), who used Google Maps and Google…

Comments are closed.