Monday, June 17, 2019

Archaeologists discover that Roman dockers ate surprisingly well – until the barbarians arrived

Built during the reign of Claudius in the 1st century AD at the mouth of the Tiber,
Portus was the epicentre of Roman trade for centuries. 
(Photo: Portus Project/Artas Media)

British-led study finds that all inhabitants of the town of Portus had a similar diet rich in meat and North African wine

Ancient Rome may have not have had much to offer its subjects by way of equality but when it came to the diet of its dockers at least it seems they dined something like emperors.

A British-led archaeological study of remains found in Portus, the maritime port which served Rome, has found that its labouring inhabitants benefited from the flow of goods through the town by having a diet entirely similar to that of its wealthy ruling citizens – at least until the “barbarians” arrived.
Exotic goods
The study, based on an analysis of food and human remains at locations around the manmade port to the west of Rome, found that dockers or “saccarii” benefited from their work unloading the flow of exotic goods – including bears and crocodiles – to the heart of the ancient empire with a diet rich in animal protein, imported wheat, olive oil and wine from North Africa.

Comparison with remains found at locations where rich and middle class inhabitants lived during the second to the fifth centuries AD found the same sort of diet, suggesting that Portus was unusual in the Roman world in that rich and poor ate similarly well.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Britain’s best places to see: Roman heritage sites

St. Mary in Castro, Dover Castle, Dover +Roman lighthouse © milo bostock (CC BY-SA 2.0)

What’s a medieval castle, founded only in the 11th century, got to do with the Romans? Being the British mainland’s closest point to Continental Europe, Dover has consistently been an important base for trade, travel and defence, and it is thought that the use of the site now occupying Dover Castle may have been utilised from as early as the Iron Age. What is known about the early origins of the site was that it was used by the Romans – evidenced by a rather unique structure in its grounds, adjacent to the St Mary in Castro church.

Constructed sometime during the 2nd century AD, when Dover was known as Dubris, this stone tower is a Roman pharos, or lighthouse, and is the most complete Roman structure standing in Britain. The 8-sided tower is something really rather special, with only three examples of Roman lighthouses existing anywhere in the world (another of which is also in Dover, though only a small section remains).

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Ancient DNA from Roman and medieval grape seeds reveal ancestry of wine making

Statue of Dionysus (Bacchus), god of wine (stock image).
Credit: © Ruslan Gilmanshin / Adobe Stock

A grape variety still used in wine production in France today can be traced back 900 years to just one ancestral plant, scientists have discovered.

With the help of an extensive genetic database of modern grapevines, researchers were able to test and compare 28 archaeological seeds from French sites dating back to the Iron Age, Roman era, and medieval period.

Utilising similar ancient DNA methods used in tracing human ancestors, a team of researchers from the UK, Denmark, France, Spain, and Germany, drew genetic connections between seeds from different archaeological sites, as well as links to modern-day grape varieties.

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Monday, June 3, 2019

ARCHAEOLOGISTS TO SEEK GRAVE OF FIRST ROMAN EMPEROR TO DIE IN BATTLE, TRAJAN DECIUS IN 251 BATTLE OF ABRITUS, NEAR BULGARIA’S RAZGRAD


A collage showing a bust of Roman Emperor Trajan Decius, with the ruins of the fortress walls of ancient Abritus near Bulgaria’s Razgrad in the background. 
Photo: Abritus Archaeological Preserve


An international archaeological expedition is seeking EU funding in order to search for the grave of Trajan Decius, the first Emperor of the Roman Empire to die in battle, namely, the 251 AD Battle of Abritus near today’s city of Razgrad in Northeast Bulgaria.

Both Roman Emperor Trajan Decius (r. 249-251 AD) and his co-emperor and son Herennius Etruscus (r. 251 AD) were killed in what was one of the greatest battles of the Late Antiquity when their forces tried to stop the barbarian invasion of the Goths near Abritus (today’s Razgrad), a major city and fortress in the Roman province of Moesia Inferior.

The precise site of the Battle of Abritus was identified only recently, in 2016, by Bulgarian archaeologists near today’s town of Dryanovets.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Ancient marble head of god Dionysus discovered under Rome

The head of Dionysus was found near the Roman Forum. Photos: 
Archeological Park of the Colosseum.

Archeologists in Rome have uncovered a large marble head from Rome’s imperial age that is believed to show Dionysus, also known as Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, music and dance.

The white marble bust, believed to be 2,000 years old, was discoved in the heart of the city, near the Roman Forum, during excavations last week.

The head had been reused to form part of a medieval wall but experts say it is in excellent condition.

The head, with hollow eyes probably once filled with glass or precious stones, would have belonged to a large statue of the god created in the imperial age.

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Monday, May 27, 2019

Remains of entire Roman town discovered next to motorway in Kent

Workers at the Roman settlement discovered in Newington ( KMG/SWNS.com )

‘This site changes our understanding of Newington’s development,’ says expert
Archaeologists have hailed the discovery of an entire Roman town and main road as “massive” for their understanding of ancient Kentish development.

An 18-acre settlement containing rare coins, pottery and jewellery dating back as early as 43 AD has been uncovered next to a major motorway in Newington.

Evidence of a 7m-wide road was also found, alongside the remains of an ancient temple, close to the A2 – which itself tracks an ancient link with Canterbury and the coast.

Experts have said the discovery is one of the most significant finds made in the region.

Dean Coles, chairman of the Newington History Group, said: “This is very exciting. The scale of this site, with the huge number and quality of finds, changes our knowledge of Newington’s development.”

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Entire 18-acre Ancient Roman town discovered next to major motorway

An 18-acre settlement dating back as early as 43 AD has been uncovered 
(Image: KMG / SWNS.com)

An entire Ancient Roman town including a temple and main road has been uncovered buried next to a major motorway .

This discovery has been hailed one of the most significant finds in regional archaeological history.

The 18-acre settlement, which contains rare coins, pottery and jewellery, dates back as early as 43 AD.

It has been uncovered next to the A2 in Newington, Kent.

The site includes remains of a temple which has since been named Watling Temple - making it one of only 150 sites recorded in England.

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Archaeologists find remains of the Roman invasion of Ayrshire

The remains were uncovered during building work

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have uncovered fresh evidence of a Roman invasion of Scotland under an Ayrshire playing field.

A marching camp used by the Legions as they made their way along the coast was found by a team carrying out work prior to the building of the new Ayr Academy.

It is thought to date back to the first century AD, when an army under Agricola, the Roman Governor of Britain, fought its way up to Aberdeenshire and defeated an army of Caledonians at the battle of Mons Grampius.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Roman treasure found by metal detectorists in Lincolnshire

The Roman coin hoard and fragment of pot that it was buried in, near Rauceby.

The largest haul of Roman coins from the early 4th Century AD ever found in Britain has been unearthed near Sleaford by two metal detector enthusiasts.

The discovery was made near the village of Rauceby after the detectorists painstakingly searched the area for years.

The hoard, which consists of more than three thousand copper alloy coins, many of which are historically unique, is now being looked at by The British Museum and is regarded as being of significant international importance.

The coins have today (Thursday) officially been declared treasure under the Treasure Act 1996 at Lincoln Coroner's Court.

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Fancy a game of Ludus latrunculorum? It seems the Romans certainly did

Artists impression of how the Vindolanda archaeology centre would look 
(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

After a day’s duty on the frontier of Hadrian’s Wall , what better than a relaxing game of Ludus latrunculorum.

The game of strategy and military tactics was popular across the Roman empire, and a stone board on which it may have been played has been uncovered at Vindolanda fort in Northumberland .

This third century board was found by volunteer digger Phil Harding re-used in a floor, in a newly excavated building behind the Vindolanda bath house.

It is thought that the board would have been in use in the bath house and then utilised elsewhere after it was broken.

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Traces of Roman-era pollution stored in the ice of Mont Blanc


The deepest layers of carbon-14 dated ice found in the Col du Dôme of the Mont Blanc glacier in the French Alps provide a record of atmospheric conditions in the ancient Roman era. Published in Geophysical Research Letters, the study, led by an international team and coordinated by a CNRS scientist at the Institute for Geosciences and Environmental Research (IGE)(CNRS/IRD/UGA/Grenoble INP)*, reveals significant atmospheric pollution from heavy metals: the presence of lead and antimony (detected in ancient alpine ice for the first time here) is linked to mining activity and lead and silver production by the ancient Romans, well before the industrial age, in fact.

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Archaeologists find secret chamber decorated with centaurs and a sphinx inside Nero's palace in Rome

The chamber has been dubbed the Sphinx Room 
CREDIT: UFFICIO STAMPA PARCO ARCHEOLOGICO DEL COLOSSEO

Archeologists have chanced upon an underground chamber decorated with images of panthers, centaurs and a sphinx in the remains of a vast palace built by the Emperor Nero in Rome.

The room, which was part of the huge Domus Aurea palace built by the emperor in the first century AD, had remained hidden for nearly 2,000 years.

It was discovered by accident during restoration of an adjacent area of the palatial complex, which was built on by subsequent emperors, including Trajan, and now lies interred beneath a hill next to the Colosseum in the historic heart of Rome.

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