Saturday, July 25, 2009

Archaeologists Demand Investigation as 72-Year Old Italian PM Cavorts with Young Women Over Old Punic Tombs

Archaeologists and Italy's left-wing opposition hope that tape-recorded revelations that right-wing Italian PM Berlusconi failed to report Punic tombs under his Sardinian estate will gain more political traction than lurid reports about the PM's sex life, derived from the same surreptitious tape recordings. See

Apparently, stories about the 72 year-old Berlusconi cavorting with much younger escorts have only buttressed the Italian PM's standing amongst his supporters given Italy's machismo culture. My guess is that ordinary Italians will care even less that Berlusconi neglected to inform the authorities that his pleasure palace is built over the remains of a dead civilization. After all, in Italy, who doesn't live over something "old?" And, what Italian bothers to volunteer information about such things to cultural bureaucrats anyway?

This story, however, will certainly gain traction in the archaeological community. See Archaeologists tend to hate Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi with the same passion they once reserved for former U.S. President George W. Bush. In their eyes, President Bush's crime was the Iraq war, and the damage it did to both to Iraqi archaeology and its status within Iraq. [Never mind that Iraqi archaeology was largely used as an instrument of state propaganda for Saddam Hussein's regime.] Berlusconi, in contrast, has taken on Italy's leftist cultural heritage bureaucracy directly, if not always successfully. See: Culture Minister Bondi has also taken a more conciliatory approach to repatriations, than his left-wing predecessor, Francesco Rutelli, "the Great Repatriator." See and

Presumably, Italian archaeologists and their foreign colleagues would much prefer that former Cultural Minister Rutelli, and his left-wing party return to power. They will be quite satisfied in the unlikely event that these latest revelations help make that happen.

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