Sign and memorial defining the Jewish ghetto and the place of the original synagogue.  Photo by Matthew Larcinese


 Melton Family Surname Recovery Project

​  November 2016 to present

Abruzzo Archive

REcovery Project 2019

​William Mann of Canterbury Will and Testament, Maidstone Kent, England Archives.   

Photo by Matthew Larcinese, Kent, England. 

  Digging the Past, Inc. is an American 501(c)3 non-profit organization centered in the ancient city center of Rome, Italy, with locations in Abruzzo, Italy and Detroit, Michigan, USA.  For the last 15 years, Digging the Past, Inc. has directed specific projects with the sole purpose of preserving, restoring and recovering history throughout Europe and the United States. The recovering of such history is accomplished with the digitization of rare documents, the preservation and restoration of special collections, and seeking sponsors and donors for archaeological and historically significant collections and sites. Our scope is diverse and growing to include programs in Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Ireland, and England. 

      February 8, 2018:CONFIRMED! The Mann's Schooley's Mountain NJ, and of Scituate, MA, Y-DNA has been confirmed as R1a-L664 per the Big Y Test from FTDNA.  The matches of this lineage match other participants from Kent, England. 

Document from the Archivio di Stato di L'Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy.  Document of the Celestine monastic order and Roberto la Salle in the year 1320. Photo by Matthew Larcinese.  

Founder, Matthew Larcinese, featured in the Detroit, Jewish News. 

(click image to enlarge)

      2019:  Continued work in England for the origins of Richard Mann.  Some websites have Richard immigrating to Scituate from Cornwall, England.  This is not accurate-- the Richard Mann DNA for the Scituate, MA line is confirmed to have originated from Kent, England and the archival research in Cornwall has verified this as well.  We are currently working on two possible locations for Richard Mann through precise research in Middlesex, England, and Broad Oak, Essex (the 'real' Broad Oak location and both areas have significance to the Mann lineage of Kent, England). 

We should know the preliminary results this year and hope to follow up with Y-DNA testing to prove our work.


November 2018: Commenced archival work in Cornwall and Norwich to determine if any details can be discovered to further the hypotheses declaring Richard Mann of Scituate, MA could have emigrated from either area. The current archival work does not provide sufficient evidence to support either. Current Mann's (with a concise and detailed family history) are requested for Y-DNA testing in both of these areas of England.

May 16, 2018: In an effort to discover the identity of the Mann's of Scituate, DIG has sent out Y-DNA kits to the Mann family with roots in Norfolk, England, to determine if the family of Essex Broad Oak matches the Mann's of Canterbury.   

In addition to on-site archival research, historical recovery and preservation of church antiquities in Europe, DIG has commenced with the Val Di Sangro Research and Archaeology Project.  This project entails taking Y-DNA samples of the male residents in these Abruzzese towns in Central Italy.  Using ancient documents, onsite analysis, archaeology, and Y-DNA, our goal is to uncover, rediscover and pinpoint the cultures, such as Greek, Arab, and Jewish, who settled and influenced these areas.  Our work is ongoing and expansive.   

in Scituate, MA through Richard Mann who settled in New Jersey in the early 18th century, eventually moving his family to Schooley's Mountain and Sussex, NJ.  Pursuing another theory about this Thomas, the records in East Sussex, England were examined based on a theory of the Mann/Main/Mayne lineage being one line, however, we researched this line of the Mann family, through partnering with the Archives, The Keep.  We have produced documents on the Mann family in East Sussex, England back to the 16th century which suggests this family came from Rye and New and Old Romney (which is a branch of the Canterbury family as the Mann's of Canterbury owned manors and land in these areas per the wills and testaments of the Kent, Mann family examined). 

The Y- DNA profile of the Mann lineage, as well as the known lineage of the first Richard Mann to settle in Scituate, MA in the early 17th century has pointed our next steps for research to the Mann family in Canterbury, England.  Again facing a tremendous amount of inaccurate information online, we were able to go onsite at the Kent and Canterbury Cathedral Archives and determine the line between the lineage.  The line at this time begins with two Mann's in Canterbury in the 13th century- John Man (and Alderman of Westgate) and his brother Thomas Man (bailiff)-- this information is reported in the acts in the Canterbury Cathedral Archives as well as the Kent County Archives, and the National Archives in London.  Our research is still sorting through the dozens of locations (land deeds and wills) which were owned by the family in Kent, England and throughout England during this time.  A misconception about this lineage is that they lived in an area known as Broad Oak-- this area does not exist in Kent in this capacity, there is a small area outside of Canterbury with such a name, however this is never mentioned in any of the wills and testaments, or real estate transactions of this particular Mann lineage of the last 800 years.  The proper and full name of the area which does pertain to this Mann is Broad Oak Hatfield, located in Essex, England and based on the Visitation records examined, this is an early settlement of the Mann (Man, Manne) lineage as this family spreads through this area north of Kent.  The will and testaments of 3 generations of the Mann lineage all lead to the conclusion that among many places, their early residence was in Harbledown and Chartham just outside of Canterbury and of course in Canterbury itself.  Another misconception is that there was a Sir Charles Mann.  This is an assumption written in the Mann genealogy books which have also been spread around the internet as fact.  In reviewing the Visitation of Kent years-- 1592, 1613, 1619-20, 1663 (which is not published) demonstrate a Charles Mann, however, this is an interpretation of a previous document of the family tree where it is name is only listed as "Chr".  This "Chr" while believed to be Sir Charles Mann, is actually, Sir Christopher Mann who was married to Afra Parker (which Afra is mentioned in his will).  This information has also been validated with the wills and testaments of Sir Christopher Mann, his brother George and William, as well as the College of Arms in London.  So in pursuing an accurate history of the Mann family, we must first omit any websites, or discussions where the Mann family includes a "Sir Charles" or Broad Oak, Kent in their lineage.  They are including places and people who do not exist and hence makes their information invalid.     We are currently producing the narrative for this lineage, which will follow the line from 2017 back to New Jersey, then Massachusetts in 1644, and to Canterbury and the many towns in Kent where they held assets in the 12th and 13th centuries.  There is still quite a bit to recover and understand about this family however the narrative which includes all the documents found and conclusions discovered will commence in the autumn of 2017. Our further research is pursuing the many "le Man" families records in Kent.  In researching the land grants as far back as the 13th century, we do not see a parallel with the family at this time. 



Jewish Ghetto in Lanciano, Abruzzo

Small road as seen today in Lanciano Judaica.  Photo by Matthew Larcinese 

The "road of the Hebrews" as seen today-- part of the Jewish ghetto. Photo by Matthew Larcinese


Archaeology RECOVERY

Digging the Past, Inc. 

Founder, Matthew Larcinese, featured in Abruzzo Economia.

(click on image to enlarge)

Lease to William Man of Canterbury from the Mayor, October 26, 1609.  Photo by Matthew Larcinese, Canterbury Cathedral Archives, Canterbury, England. 

August 13, 2019:  I have been able to evaluate many different archives in England and review the ship manifests from  Gravesend, England and Bristol.  There are far more Milton and Melton lines than are accounted for in the immigration books and remaining records in the USA.  While the internet has the Milton and Melton and Molton/Moulton family as one large group-- this is very inaccurate.  The Milton and Melton lines are not the same and have different origins per the records and their Y-DNA analysis.  The Molton/Moulton lineage was from Norfolk originally.  I am finalizing the origins and the settlements of each of these families in VA in the 17th and early 18th century so we can have a more up-to-date and realistic approach to this Melton/Milton research. 

The difficult moments of the Jews interned at Guardiagrele during the war.

For the Jews interned in Guardiagrele it was a tragedy even more terrible than that of us displaced. what was their fate?

Piazza Morena where the via Morena and via del ghetto merge. Photo by Matthew Larcinese

Left to right:  Photos of the street where one of the Arcioni Palazzo's once stood.  Via Arcioni near Trevi Fountain-- named after the Cardinal of Rome, Antonio Arcioni.   Photos by Matthew Larcinese 

       Special Collections

        REcovery Project 2019

Digging the Past, Inc.’s Abruzzo Archival Recovery Project is an archival restoration program which started over 16 years ago in the mountain towns of Abruzzo, Italy.  The project entails photographing ancient documents and delivers digitized fortmats of ancient texts from state, personal and church archives to the client.  In addition the client raises funds to help preserve rare documents which have been exposed to harsh weather and storage conditions preventing further deterioration.



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Gessopalena, Roccascalegna, Guardiagrele, Lanciano and the Roman Jewish ghetto 

Guardiagrele, Abruzzo Ancient Jewish Ghetto

Lagowa Church Archives, documents 18th century.  Photo by Matthew Larcinese, Lagow, Poland

Digging the Past, Inc. seeks out and researches all available information for surnames and the individuality of their origins.  With the help (or hindrance) of the internet, “enthusiasts” are quick to tag their name on to other similar surname origins which they find online.  But is this an accurate reference or fantasy?

Digging the Past, Inc. conducts a vast amount of onsite family and surname research throughout Italy and northern Europe.  Our onsite research, document discovery, live interview and onsite explorations are our resources.  Ancient homes and land search is a vital part of the precise breakdown of any family origins. 

Mann Family Surname Recovery Project

January 2015 to present

Professor Mario Palmiero stand with his memorial he set up for the Jeiwsh ghetto in Guardeigrele.  Photo by Matthew Larcinese 

The castle in Roccascalegna was originally built by the Lombards in the 13th century and in the 14th century, the castle was restored with a guard tower.  On each side of the guard tower entrance are two stones with carved with a rustic Menorah.  The stones are believed to have been taken from a nearby structure or tomb.

According to the illustrious historian of Lanciano, A. Ludovico Antinori, the Jews resided in the Sacca di Lanciano in before the year 1000, this district was also called Giudecca or Giudea.

1156: Count of Loritello, Roberto di Bassavilla, chased from the Giudecca to the Hebrews because they had given support to King William the year before.

Current Y-DNA Surname Study:

Mann (Man)-- Big Y, Pack Test, Y-37, Family Finder  (Kent, England)

Mann-- Y-12, (Australia originally of Norfolk, England)
McCaffrey/Maguire-- Y-37 (Fermanagh, Ireland) 
Keremedjian (Kiramidjian/Kiremitzian)-- Y-37, Family Finder (Yozgat, Turkey)
Skrzatek--  Y-37, Pack Test, Y-67, MtDNA, Family Finder, Big Y (Krakow, Poland)
Goldman-- Y-37, Y-67, Family Finder  (Russian Jewish)
Larcinese (de Larcenese, Larcionese)-- Big Y, Y-37, Y111, Family Finder, SNP tests,  Pack Tests, Yfull, Haplogroup, J-Z2177

Syrvydas (Sirvidas)-- MtDNA (Lithuania)
Karikas  (Kerekes, Karikis)-- Y-37, Family Finder, pack tests (Hungary Tatar)
Trefzger (Trefsker)-- MtDNA (Hungary, Wehr, Germany)

Gulukian (Gulugian)--MtDNA (Armenia)
Melton (Milton, Mylton)-- Y-37, Y111, Big Y, Yfull (England)
Arcioni--Y-37 (Como, Italy)
Arzoni--Y-37 (Netherlands)

Arcioni-- Y-37 (Poggiodomo, Perugia, Italy)

Mieszkowski/Meskauskas-- Y-37, Family Finder, Pack Test, SNP test (Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine)

Pilat-- Y 37, pack test, (Lublin, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus)

Anastasia Supernova-- Family Finder (Ukraine)

additional Y-DNA tests in the Val di Sangro project listed under the above program. 

Lanciano Jewish Ghetto, House of the Rabbi.

Photo by Matthew Larcinese 

May 2019 update.  There are scores in not hundreds of Milton/Melton families in England.  The surname and placename has been around for over millennia so there is no shortage of the surname throughout the historical documents in England.  There IS a shortage of historical documents in the US in the Colonial Period which has made for a lot of confusion with this lineage-- it is not one line stemming from Richard Milton (who by the way is not related to author John Milton) who settled in Charles City, and it may not all be one line which stems from William Mann, indentured servant emigrating tot he colonies in 1638.  We have currently found several acts which demonstrate several William Milton and Melton lines leaving the docks in Bristol and Gravesend, England in the late 17th century.  As there are not sufficient documents in Virginia, we cannot be certain who belonged where and to which line.  Y-DNA testing may be the only way for us to understand the relationships of the Meltons in Virginia. 

Digging the Past, Inc. covers the cost with Y-DNA kits and analysis, as well as other much-needed supplies to further imperative research.  As our work on-site in the archives is crucial and expensive, we appreciate the support from our friends.  Please donate to DIG to keep these projects alive by clicking "Donate"  below.  We thank you for your generosity. 

Abermale County, Virginia land survey with William Melton, 1760. Photo by Matthew Larcinese 


REcovery Projects

The Cluviae, Piano la Roma, Casoli, Abruzzo, Italy.  Photo by Matthew Larcinese. 

In addition to the Y-DNA testing, DIG studied the documents for Gessopalena from the 14th century (Digestum Scripturarum Coelestinae Congregationis, II, II,30/1) which provides us with evidence of the Jewish culture already present in the town and demonstrates that they owned lands. The notary, Claudio Paglione (1580-1604) and the 1747 Catasto (census) identify a common area where most of the surnames, families (above) lived.  Using these land coordinates, we have also identified an area just outside the main city of Gessopalena, an area which may have been specifically set-up for the Jewish or conversos.  On-site analysis of the homes, searching for clues from the old stone or destroyed provided us with more details and helped restructure the Jewish past in Gessopalena, and the surrounding environs in the Val di Sangro area.  The collections of all and any documents, the archaeology of the area, on-site interviews of the cultural past produced enough evidence to know there was a Jewish presence here-- continuous research, cultural engagement, DNA testing is ongoing at this time. 

The Jewish community in Guardiagrele existed already in the 13th century with its maximum growth from 1300 through the 1500s (money lenders. merchants, and artisans.   The area was defined by three specific roads-- Strada del Ghetto, Strada degli Ebrei (the road of the Hebrews) and  Via/Piazza Morena--with the Strada del Ghetto and Via Morena still existing today, and the other road, Strada degli Ebrei still existed with the new name, Via Amorosa. 

There are several families listed in the archival documents living here from 1600 through the late 19th century, some of the names include: dell'Osa, Ricci (different than the branch from the noble branch from Casoli etc..), Salamone, Taraburrello, De Santis, Capuzzo, Di Crescenzo, Carrozza, Bucciarelli (form of Jacobi), Cacciavillano, Rastelli, Bianco (white), di Martino (also listed as Civitella-- this family was also from Civitella Messer Raimondo a town nearby which is why we see the name listed both ways), De Luca, Burrello, Vassetta, Aurito, De Fino, de Lucia, De Nardis, Farina, Sciubba, Dammiano, Caramanico (from Caramanico), Perluigi, Di Cesare, Carabello, Picciotto, Pellicciotto, Primavera, Stella, di Cocco, Iezzi, Colasanti, Pascucci, Della Viola, Palmiero, Durante.

If anyone from this area with any of the family names listed above would like to join the Y-DNA program and understand and know their lineage, you can contact Matthew Larcinese at, to learn more details.  The Jewish presence in Guardiagrele is very old but is disappearing from memory as time moves on. 

We were able to visit the ghetto and get a tour of the area with Professor Mario Palmiero who wrote about the ghetto and its history-- he is also participating in the Y-DNA program and I have traced the Palmiero surname in Guarde back to since at least the year 1351.  Mario's knowledge of Guardiagrele and the ghetto is very valuable and much needed. Walking through the village with Mario we were able to visit the site of the one-time synagogue, the old roads and get an understanding of the conditions they lived under.   The best we can hope for is the continued participation of the Jewish ancestors from Guardiagrele so we can understand their contribution to the socio-economic growth of the area and find new ways to preserve and celebrate their history. 

Founder, Matthew Larcinese, Avotaynu, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Volume XXXV, Number 1, June 2019
(click image to enlarge)

"never forget" and homage to those who suffered in the internment camps including in Guardiagrele in the second WW. Photo by Matthew Larcinese

Menorah Stones of Roccascalegna 

14th century Celestine Order Monastery, Gessopalena, Abruzzo, Italy 

We are working with local historians, archaeologist, geologists to recover a culture in the hamlet of Abruzzo which will lead to specific answers about the medieval culture which once thrived around this Celestine Order Monastery (a branch of the Benedictines) per the Zanotti documents written about the area in the 14th century.  Currently, the stones in this monastery, destroyed in the 14th century,  match the stones used in the rebuilt guard tower and other locations in Roccascalegna.  The original use or function of the monastery (perhaps prior to the arrival of the Celestine Order) is being investigated.   Keep checking in for further details! ​




ARCIONI of Rome, 

Y-DNA-- R-M269 (WAMH)

Arcioni (Arcionibus) Family of Rome Recovery Project:  The Arcioni had a very early and significant influence on Rome, and the Catholic Church from the 13th century through at least the 17th century as their presence in Italy spread to Teramo--Abruzzo, Como-Lombardia, Parma, and Bergamo in Central and Northern Italy.  Using the documents from Archivio di Stato in Rome, Teramo, L'Aquila with the support of volunteers and Y-DNA testing, we have been able to rediscover this ancient family still living in Como, and New Jersey, USA.

Please contact DIG if you believe you are part of this family.  We have information to forward to you.

In 2019, Digging the Past, Inc will continue to work with archaeologists in Abruzzo and throughout Italy to help with the preservation and exploration of new sites, and continued support for existing projects and digs. 

The Special Collections Recovery Project pertains to several activities around the globe that are in need of special attention.  The efforts help to restors and recover historical archives and photos, relics and antiquities of the church, or larger cemeteries and archaeological sites which have been abandoned of forgotten. 


This research commissioned by the Melton family in Iowa and entails our advanced onsite research and DNA testing.  The research has lead us through archives in North Carolina and in Virginia where the first Melton appears in 1638.  We have several online "genealogy" resources account for the lineage and make a connection back to England (Melton Mowbray and even Oxfordshire) however there is no validity to these connections and appear to be more ancestry fantasy.  The research which needs to be conducted is an arduous task and cannot be left to online "sources" as they are usually incorrect and fester into fact.  

We are currently working on linking the Melton lineage back to England when the first Melton ancestor appears to be from, arriving in the colonies in 1638.  So far we have not been able to find any solid information that can identify where this line would "pick-up" in England.  The name Melton is a place-name which is a vulgar form of Middletown, Middleton.  It is seen with other spellings in the Domesday Book (Mylton, Milton etc...).  As this name appears to be a place name and area in England that posses "Melton, Milton" could be an area of origin. So while there is a Melton Mowbray, England, there is also a Melton Keynes, Great Melton, Little Melton-- to name a few.  We also see this surname, in the case of Kent, England, where it is referring to a person in the "town of a mill".  Mullins and Milstead from Kent, England also make special reference to a person or place of the mill.  

With access to the Melton Y-DNA from FTDNA, and with analysis of the matches, we have discovered the Melton family of Virginia matches the Y-DNA of the Mullins (within 500 years) as well as the Wyatt (Wiat, Wiot) family.  The Mullins and the Wyatt families are believed to be from the Kent, England lineage with the Wyatt lineage owning an area called Milton, as well as being buried in the same Milton Parish.  So this could be a great clue to the Melton line.  Further analysis is needed and we are working on the next phase of DNA testing so we can determine the best place for on-site research in England.   

The Mann family in South Carolina has commissioned the research to connect their lineage in the USA to the lineage of their country of origin.  With the advent of online "genealogy" websites, there has been a tremendous amount of inaccurate information reported on this lineage.   Our particular Mann family was linked to a Thomas Mann who was believed to have been from Macclesfield, England, born in 1754.  Research conducted in the Macclesfield archives, Cheshire archives have demonstrated no such person existed.  In addition, research into the origins of this theory has concluded the theory did not have significant proof or research to support the claim.  It was with thorough onsite research in New Jersey we were able to connect this lineage to the Mann family 

While we are concentrating on the many cultures that settled and thrived in the Val di Sangro, our primary focus is rediscovering the Jewish culture which thrived in the various cities of Abruzzo for centuries, settling in these towns perhaps direct from the Levant or  a later immigration from England, France, Spain, Greece, and Germany.  Like so many things we see in history, this has been buried, lost and forgotten--no person in the area can recall any Jewish presence or the fact their lineage may have come from Jewish ancestry aside from "local traditions" which parallel Jewish customs.  With the "mystery of Roccascalengna" (the displaced Menorah stones) present at an entrance of a 13th century Lombardy castle in the neighboring town (4 miles) from Gessopalena, to the medieval Jewish settlements in Guardiagrele and Lanciano just 15 and 25 miles away, respectfully, there was a prolific culture here waiting to be rediscovered.  The Jewish culture appears in the writings in Guardiagrele in the year 1269, and in Lanciano, the Jewish population has been reported by historian, Ludovico Antinori, to have lived in the "Judaica" part of the city prior to the year 1000. 

After searching the Abruzzese archives for the last 15 years,  I started the Y-DNA Project in 2018 in the towns of Gessopalena, Roccascalenga, Lanciano, Guardiagrele, in Abruzzo, Italy to gain a better understanding of the isolated genetics of the families who settled here.  These projects will continue through 2019 and I will be adding DNA and archival research in the Roman Jewish Ghetto, Lazio with the hope of connecting the two areas with common ancestry. As always, I am looking for volunteers who have documented lineage to any of the above cities to take a Y-DNA test.  I can assist in the research per the Abruzzo or Roman archives if you are not certain. 

  I have currently collected 21 samples from the residents of Gessopalena and the surrounding villages and analyzing the Y-DNA to understand the individual family origins as they parallel documents from the 16th century.  In the case of my family and a few others, we are continuing to analyze the Y-DNA and uncover the Jewish lineages in this town and to collect further evidence of the particular settlements for these families.  Current participant surnames in this project:

         GESSOPALENA                         ROCCASCALEGNA                    LANCIANO                    GUARDIAGRELE                 ROME

       Salamone (J-Z1297+)                    *Di Loreto (J-BY185356)        Caporella (J-FGC11+)           Palmiero (R-M417)

       *Melchiorre (J-Z1297+, Z631+)        Zinno (R-L51+)                   Italiano (G-PF3378)              DeLucia (R-Z72)

       De Gregorio (J-Z1297+)                   Cianci/Cionci (J-Z1846)        Dell Bello (testing)

      * Larcinese (Jacobi, J-PH185+,          Di Yenno (Ienno) (J-M267)   

        J-BY76232 )      

       Tiberini (Jacobi, J-PH185+)

       Bozzi, Bochio, Bozzius, Batis (J-M267+, J-FGC5230)

       Turchi, Turco (J-M267+, J-FGC11+)

       Troilo (J-M267+, J-FGC11+)

       Persiani (J-M267+, J-FGC11+)   

       Taliano (G-PF3378)                                                                                                                                                                                             Cavaliere (R-M12149, Big Y) 

       Pellicciotta (I-A427)

       Innaurato, Naurato (J-M267+, J-FGC11+, Big Y)

       Cecchini (J-M267, J-L1189+)

       Sambuco (R-S8172+)

       Sirolli (testing Y-DNA)

       De Cecco (J-M172)  (branch from Fara San Martino)

       * indicates 16th-century money lenders/tax collectors 

Names to include in the next test period 2019 in Abruzzo and Rome: de Fabrizio, Leone, Daniele, D'Abramo, Simone Serano, D'Alessandro, Camerino, Bucci, Puccio, Stella, Tozzi, Jacobuccio (Jacobi), della Torre, Creta, Fiorentino, di Francia (or De Francesco), della Rocca, Onorato, dell' Oso, Ricci (Guardiagrele only)