Saturday, October 24, 2020

CBA Festival of Archaeology

 The Council of British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology runs from 24 October to 1 November.  The situation with the Corona Virus means that many of the events will be digital, although there will be a number of live events. Please use the search facility on their webpage to see the various events that are offered.


You can find their website here…

Please note that EMAS archaeological Society has offered a quiz on little known archaeological sites in South East England.

You can find a link to the quiz on the EMAS home page here…

Test your knowledge and see how much you know about the archaeology of the area!

Friday, October 23, 2020

VAST ‘CHANGING ROOM’ FOUND IN ROMAN THERMAE (PUBLIC BATHS) OF ANCIENT SPA RESORT DIOCLETIANOPOLIS IN BULGARIA’S HISARYA

 

The spacious changing room, or apodyterium, of the main mineral water public baths of the ancient spa resort of Diocletianopolis in Bulgaria’s Hisarya was more than 100 square meters in size. 
Photo: Video grab from Nova TV

A sizable “changing room" or “undressing room", apodyterium in Latin, has been discovered by archaeologists in the main thermae (public baths) of the major Ancient Roman city and ancient spa resort of Diocletianopolis in Bulgaria’s Hisarya.

The main or central Roman thermae of Diocletianopolis in Bulgaria’s Hisarya, the modern-day town which is still a famous spa resort thanks to the healing qualities of its mineral waters, are said to be among the top three best preserved Ancient Roman public baths, together with thermae in Algeria and the UK.

Originally an Ancient Thracian settlement and then a Roman town called Augusta, the Antiquity predecessor of Bulgaria’s Hisarya was granted the status of a city in the Roman Empire in 293 AD under Emperor Diocletian (r. 284-305 AD) who renamed it after himself, Diocletianopolis.

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Monday, September 28, 2020

Oldest Roman body armour found in Germany


Archaeologists have discovered the oldest and most complete Roman body armour at the site of the  Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in Kalkriese, Germany. Before this find, the earliest known examples of Roman lorica segmentata — iron plate sections tied together — were found in Corbridge, UK, and date to the 2nd century. Those were fragments. The Kalkriese armor is a complete set, and includes an extremely rare iron collar used to shackle prisoners.

More than 7,000 objects have been found at the Kalkriese battlefield site, from weapons to coins to items of everyday use. In the summer of 2018, a metal detector scan of the side wall of an excavation trench retuned 10 strong signals, indications of a large quantity of metal inside the bank. To ensure whatever was in there wasn’t exposed to the air and rapid oxidization, archaeologists removed the entire soil block containing the mystery metallics.

The first step was to scan the block to see what was inside and map out its excavation. The block was too big for regular X-ray machines, so  they transported the crate to the Münster Osnabrück International Airport where the customs office has a freight-sized X-ray machine. All they could see was nails of the wooden crate and a large black hole in the shape of the soil block.

In 2019, it was sent to the Fraunhofer Institute in Fürth which has the world’s largest CT scanner — a circular platform more than 11 feet in diameter that rotates while the X-ray apparatus moves up and down — more than big enough for the crate to fit and powerful enough to see inside the dense soil block. The scan revealed the remains of a cuirass — the section of a lorica segmentata where the breastplate and back plate are buckled together. The plates of the armour were pushed together like an accordion by the weight of the soil pressing on down them for 2,000 years.

Here’s a nifty digital animation by the Fraunhofer Institute generated from the CT scan data that reveals the armour inside the soil block.


Armed with the detailed scans, restorers were able to begin excavation of the soil block. They found that despite Kalkriese’s highly acidic sandy soil, the armour is relatively well-preserved. There is extensive corrosion of the mental, but the set is uniquely complete with hinges, buckles, bronze bosses and even extremely rare surviving pieces of the leather ties. The plates from the shoulder and chest have been recovered and restored. The belly plates are still in the soil block. There are no arm plates in this early design.

Iron plate armour was introduced by Augustus as an improvement on chain mail. It was relatively light (around 17 pounds) and because the plates were tied together with leather cords, they were much more flexible than chain mail. so it was the latest and greatest technology in 9 A.D. when Publius Quinctilius Varus blundered into a German ambush that obliterated three full Roman legions plus their auxiliaries.

The legionary who wore this armour apparently survived the battle because around his neck/shoulder area was a shrew’s fiddle, also known as a neck violin. This was an iron collar connected to two handcuffs that locked a prisoner’s hands in front of his neck. The Romans used them to shackle prisoners destined for slavery. This time the tables were turned, and the soldier died in shackles.

The restoration is ongoing and is expected to take another two years. Once it’s complete, the armour will go on display in an exhibition at the Kalkriese Museum and Park.

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Friday, September 11, 2020

Rare Roman gaming piece found on Chester building site

 

The piece was used for a game played by Roman soldiers 
CHESHIRE WEST WITH CHESTER COUNCIL

A rare Roman gaming piece has been discovered by archaeologists working alongside council workers on the Northgate development in Chester.

The artefact, made from bone, was found with other Roman relics including a comb, a possible spearhead and a pin or broach.

Andrew Davison, Inspector of Ancient Monuments from Historic England, said the finds "will excite great interest."

They will be added to a collection of Roman relics at a local museum.

The lozenge-shaped gaming piece, just over an inch long (29mm), is highly polished, probably from use, and features a common Roman ring and dot motif.

Experts link it to Ludus Latrunculorum, meaning the Game of Mercenaries - a two-player military strategy board game played throughout the Roman Empire, similar to draughts.

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Bamburgh Castle excavation unearths Romano-British roundhouse

Excavations began at the castle in the 1960s OWEN HUMPHREYS/PA

A roundhouse thought to date back to the Romano-British period has been unearthed at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland.

Foundations of the 40ft (12m) structure were discovered by volunteers from the Bamburgh Research Project.

Believed to be more than 2,000 years old, excavators hope it will help reveal gaps in the castle's history.

Project director Graeme Young said the "remarkable find" was one of the "most important" to be made at the site.

"It was sheer chance that we decided to dig that little bit further in the final days of digging here at the castle, otherwise we would have missed it.


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THIS NORWEGIAN ISLAND CLAIMS TO BE THE FABLED LAND OF THULE

 



Greek explorer Pytheas traveled to what is now the British Isles and farther north in a trireme, exploring and mapping much of the coastline. He wrote of Thule, an island that people have searched for ever since. This illustration is by John F. Campbell from the 1909 book The Romance of Early British Life. (Chronicle/Alamy)

Residents of Smøla believe they live in the northernmost location mentioned in ancient Greek and Roman literature. Other contenders say not so fast.

On a Monday late in April 2020, the tiny, rocky, sparsely populated Norwegian island of Smøla, which had been sealed off from the outside world for three months, reopened its one point of access, a ferry terminal that connects it to the coastal cities of Trondheim and Kristiansund. The move brought joy to the residents of Smøla, who often travel to the mainland for supplies and recreation. It also gladdened tourists and adventurers, particularly those with an interest in the fabled land of Thule, also known as ultima Thule, whose exact location in the world has been debated for over two millennia. According to one recent school of thought, Smøla is the island with the strongest claim to that location: reopening Smøla thus meant that it was once again possible to set foot on Thule.

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

New Roman fort uncovered in Lancashire after years of speculation

A Roman fort lies underneath land off Flax Lane, Burscough

Historic England says the lines of the fort’s defences are clearly identifiable on geophysical survey and aerial photos

A 1st Century fort uncovered at a Burscough farm could be the key to understanding Roman activity in Lancashire.

After years of speculation about the presence of such a fort, ruins off Flax Lane have finally received recognition from Historic England.

The ruins comprise a 30,000 sq m fort, roads, and a smaller fortlet and experts believe the find will unlock unknown details of how the Romans settled and travelled around the area. Considered alongside other forts in the region, including those at Wigan and Ribchester, Burscough’s will provide great insight into Roman military strategy. It is believed that the area was occupied multiple times over the course of hundreds of years, a theory which is backed up by the variety of pottery found at the site.

Historic England says the lines of the fort’s defences are clearly identifiable on geophysical survey and aerial photos, but the north-west and south-west corners are also visible as slight earthworks on Lidar, which uses laser light reflections to produce 3D images.

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The Romans Called it ‘Alexandrian Glass.’ Where Was It Really From?

Glass receptacles recovered from Egypt dating to the first or second century A.D., during the Roman occupation.  Credit...Artokoloro, via Alamy

Trace quantities of isotopes hint at the true origin of a kind of glass that was highly prized in the Roman Empire.

Glass was highly valued across the Roman Empire, particularly a colorless, transparent version that resembled rock crystal. But the source of this coveted material — known as Alexandrian glass — has long remained a mystery. Now, by studying trace quantities of the element hafnium within the glass, researchers have shown that this prized commodity really did originate in ancient Egypt.

It was during the time of the Roman Empire that drinks and food were served in glass vessels for the first time on a large scale, said Patrick Degryse, an archaeometrist at KU Leuven in Belgium, who was not involved in the new study. “It was on every table,” he said. Glass was also used in windows and mosaics.

All that glass had to come from somewhere. Between the first and ninth centuries A.D., Roman glassmakers in coastal regions of Egypt and the Levant filled furnaces with sand. The enormous slabs of glass they created tipped the scales at up to nearly 20 tons. That glass was then broken up and distributed to glass workshops, where it was remelted and shaped into final products.

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Archaeological dig on the A1 in North Yorkshire uncovers Roman remains

Archaeologists at work near Scotch Corner

Archaeologists excavating the A1 before the road's major upgrade have discovered fascinating evidence of Roman engineering and repair work.

The dig between Leeming Bar and Barton, near Scotch Corner, revealed that the Romans settled in North Yorkshire at least a decade earlier than previously thought. They produced coins for circulation and built relationships with the local tribes.

The modern A1 partly follows the route of Roman roads between York and Hadrian's Wall that were used mainly for the movements of legions based at the York garrison who were deployed to subdue the border regions.

Highways England, who oversaw the archaeological work ahead of the upgrade of the A1(M), believe the finds in the vicinity of Scotch Corner are among the best discoveries of the past decade, and a book about the excavations has now been published.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Pompeii's most recent finds reveal new clues to city's destruction


Since its discovery several centuries ago, few archaeological sites have fascinated the world as has the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. After the first major excavations in more than 50 years, Pompeii is revealing a surprising abundance of buried treasures. The new finds are coming from intensive work in a small sector known as Region V that has nevertheless yielded giant insights into the final days of the doomed city.

Along with the complete excavation of two houses—the House of the Garden and the House of Orion—the dig has yielded frescoes, murals, and mosaics of mythological figures in gorgeous colors, skeletons with stories still to be unraveled, coins, amulets, and show horses in the stable of a wealthy landowner.

The new finds are also sparking debate about Pompeii’s tragic story. Just before Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79 and buried the city under a mantle of ash and rock, a local worker scrawled an inscription on a wall. Along with a joke (roughly translated as “he ate too much”), he wrote the date: October 17. The discovery of this inscription may confirm the view that the eruption took place in October, and not August, as some scholars maintain.

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

Archaelogical dig starts at Exeter Cathedral


An archaeological dig which has just started at Exeter Cathedral could uncover artefacts as far back as the Romans.

The first stone has been lifted in a six-week investigative dig where a new cloister gallery will ultimately be built.

Archaeologists want to find out what is below the paving slabs and grass which covers the area just outside the cathedral's chapter house, which has never been examined before.

The dig is expected to provide crucial information about the layout of the medieval cloister - which was torn down in 1657 - and the state of its foundations which, if still serviceable, will be reused for the new building.

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Roman jars found in Spanish seafood shop


Authorities conducting a routine inspection of a frozen seafood shop in Spain were surprised to find ancient artefacts decorating the premises.

The owner's son found the objects while fishing, according to local media.

Thirteen jars (amphoras) are believed to date back to the 1st Century AD, while an 18th Century anchor and a limestone plaque were also found.

Both the owner of the business in Alicante and his son are now being investigated.

"The amphoras could come from the looting of shipwrecks," which would be protected as objects of underwater archaeology, a statement by the Civil Guard said on Wednesday.

The artefacts were moved to the Museum of the Sea in Santa Pola, where they underwent preliminary dating.

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UN NOUVEL ÉTABLISSEMENT ANTIQUE DÉCOUVERT DANS LA PLAINE D'ALÉRIA (HAUTE-CORSE)


A Pietroso, dans la plaine d’Aléria au pied du Massif du Monte Incudine, les archéologues de l'Inrap ont mis au jour un vaste établissement rural de l'époque romaine, composé d'un étonnant ensemble de structures hydrauliques.

Une équipe d’archéologues de l’Inrap met actuellement au jour un établissement rural du IIIe siècle de notre ère, sur la commune de Pietroso, au pied du Massif du Monte Incudine à l’extrême ouest de la plaine d’Aleria. Sur prescription de l’État (DRAC de Corse), cette fouille, préalable à la construction d’un habitat résidentiel, est prise en charge à 100% par l’État, par le biais du fonds national pour l’archéologie préventive (Fnap). Elle apporte aujourd’hui d’intéressantes informations sur l’occupation antique en Corse.

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