Thursday, February 20, 2020

Pompeii's House of Lovers reopens to public after 40 years

Restoration specialists working inside the House of Lovers in Pompeii, which has reopened to the public. Photograph: Cesare Abbate/EPA

One of Pompeii’s most celebrated buildings, the House of Lovers, will reopen to the public on Tuesday, 40 years after it was severely damaged in an earthquake.

The domus, considered to be among the jewels of the ancient city that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79, was discovered in 1933 with its second floor and decorations almost completely preserved.

The building was closed for repair following the Irpinia earthquake in 1980, which killed almost 3,000 people.

The restoration was completed as part of the EU-funded Great Pompeii Project, which since 2012 has allowed the archaeological park to undertake wide-ranging restoration works and carry out new excavations.

Read the rest of this article...

Pompeii restoration unearths ‘surprise’ treasures

The painstaking Pompeii restoration saw an army of workers reinforce walls, repair collapsing structures and excavate untouched areas
© PRESS OFFICE OF THE POMPEII ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK/AFP Handout

Vivid frescoes and never-before-seen inscriptions were among the treasures unearthed in a massive years-long restoration of the world-famous archeological site Pompeii that came to a close Tuesday.
The painstaking project saw an army of workers reinforce walls, repair collapsing structures and excavate untouched areas of the sprawling site, Italy‘s second most visited tourist destination after Rome’s Colosseum.

New discoveries were made too, in areas of the ruins not yet explored by modern-day archaeologists at the site — frequently pillaged for jewels and artefacts over the centuries.

“When you excavate in Pompeii there are always surprises,” the site’s general director Massimo Osanna told reporters Tuesday.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

2000-year-old Roman soldier's silver dagger is restored to its incredible pristine glory after teenage work experience archaeologist unearthed it in Germany

An elaborate silver Roman dagger has been painstakingly restored to its original glory after it was unearthed by a teenager on work experience in Germany

An elaborate silver Roman dagger has been painstakingly restored to its original glory after it was unearthed by a teenager on work experience in Germany.

Nico Calman, 19, found the fascinating weapon - believed to be the most remarkable artefact of its kind to have been discovered - at a burial ground in Haltern am See, near M√ľnster. 

It is so well preserved that red enamel and glass, as well as silver and brass handles decorated with ornate patterns of foliage and leaves survived for 2,000 years.

Read the rest of this article...

Hypogeum with sarcophagus from 6th cent. BC found in Roman Forum

Credit: Parcocolosseo

A hypogeum or underground temple and tomb structure with a tufa sarcophagus linked with what looks like an altar has been discovered in the Roman Forum, the Colosseum Archaeological Park director Alfonsina Russo said Monday.

The space is believed to be part of a votive area called a Heroon devoted to the founder of Rome, Romulus, she said.

The sarcophagus, made out of the same tufa rock that built the Capitol, is around 1.40 metres long and is believed to date back to the sixth century BC, she said.

The find was made next to the Curia-Comitium complex, a few metres away from the famed Lapis Niger, which Romans thought had brought bad luck because it was linked to the death of Romulus, Russo said.

Read the rest of this article...

Human remains unearthed at site of early Roman military base in Kent

One of the skeletons found at Aylesham [Credit: SWAT via KentOnline]

Two skeletons dating back to the Bronze and Iron Age have been unearthed by archaeologists working on a building site.

The remains were discovered at the Aylesham Garden Village development near Canterbury and are now being examined by experts at the University of Kent to precisely date them and understand why they were buried there.

They are among the latest archaeological finds at the site, with smaller items of pottery and glass, dating from the Roman occupation of 2,000 years ago, also discovered.

The dig is being undertaken for developers Barratt Homes and Persimmon Homes by a team from the Faversham-based Swale and Thames Archaeology (SWAT).

Read the rest of this article...

Roman snake ring found in Buckinghamshire declared treasure

The Roman ring would have been circular with the snakes' heads touching,
but it has been bent out of shape
COLCHESTER AND IPSWICH MUSEUM SERVICE

A Roman ring might have been made by the same jeweller behind a famous hoard and would have belonged to "someone with access to a fair amount of money".

The silver ring, featuring two snake heads, was found in Buckinghamshire by a detectorist from Essex.

Items with the same "distinctive cobra heads with a kind of frill" were part of the Snettisham Jeweller's Hoard, found in Norfolk in 1985.

Essex finds officer Sophie Flynn, said it was a "pretty exciting" discovery.

The Snettisham hoard, thought to be from the stock of a single jeweller, was buried in a pot in about AD155 and rediscovered during building work.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

2,000-year-old burial of Germanic 'dignitary' discovered in south-eastern Moravia

The grave of a local lord of Germanic origin
[Credit: Archeologicky ustav AV CR]

For two millennia, he had been resting untouched in the earth, in the hollow of what had been his tomb, untouched since his burial. It took only an earthmover and an attentive worker whose gaze was caught by the presence of a shiny object in the overturned earth to uncover the grave of a high Germanic dignitary dating back to the second half of the 1st century AD at Uhersky Brod (south-eastern Moravia), near the Slovak border. This is a particularly rare find according to the archaeologists in charge of the site, and should tell them more about this region at the foot of the White Carpathians, about 200 kilometres from the Roman limes.

"This discovery must be placed in its historical context. Dating places it back to Roman times, but it should be remembered that at that time the Czech and Moravian territories, i.e. the territory of the present-day Czech Republic, were located in an area called the Barbaricum, i.e. beyond the Roman Empire's limes."

Read the rest of this article...

Durham archaeological dig reveals 'earliest resident'

The bone fragments belonged to an adult, but it was impossible to determine the sex
DURHAM UNIVERSITY

Remains found during a dig in Durham have revealed what is believed to be the city's earliest known resident.

Archaeologists from the university unearthed the bone fragments while excavating a city centre site where student accommodation was being built.

Radiocarbon dating has now shown they date to between 90BC and AD60.

Described as "very significant", the bones add to a growing body of evidence there were settlers in the area in the Iron Age and Romano-British periods.

Most of the identifiable bone, found in a site off Claypath, came from a skull, with parts of a radius and tibia also recovered.

Experts were able to establish they belonged to an adult who had been cremated, but could not determine their age or sex.

As well as evidence of the Iron Age cremation, archaeologists found items from medieval rubbish pits and 18th Century street-front buildings.

Read the rest of this article...

Developers will protect Roman villa unearthed in Cam

Remains of the Roman villa were uncovered last summer at the Millfields site in Cam

A Roman villa unearthed during building work will be preserved after developers agreed to "re-plan" the estate.

More than 6,000 people signed a petition to save the remains discovered by archaeologists working on behalf of Bovis Homes in Cam, Gloucestershire.

The firm said experts had told them the remains did not qualify for preservation but it had since "found a compromise".

Campaigner Christie McLean said the news was "fantastic".

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Pompeii's ancient drains are STILL in working order and will be used again to empty rainwater into the sea 2,300 years after they were built

Since 2018, the 1,500ft (457m) network of tunnels (pictured), which are big enough for a human to fit into, have been carefully assessed

The 1,500ft long network of tunnels empties rainwater into the nearby sea  
It was built in three phases dating back as far as 3rd century BC by the Samnites 
Romans updated the network of tunnels and it is still in excellent condition  
Spans from the Pompeii Forum underneath Via Marina and to the Imperial Villa 

Pompeii's ancient drainage system is in such good condition that it is set to be put back into active service, despite being built almost 2,300 years ago. 

A 1,500ft stretch of tunnels underneath some of the famed Italian city's most iconic structures was originally built to drain water downhill away from Pompeii's centre. 

Analysis of the tunnels revealed they had been almost untouched for millennia and the complex system is still in excellent condition. 

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Campaign to save Gloucestershire Roman villa unearthed on estate

The discovery includes a bathhouse

A campaign has been launched to protect the remains of a Roman villa unearthed during work on a new housing estate.

The villa was discovered in Cam, Gloucestershire, by archaeologists working on behalf of Bovis Homes.

BBC TV presenter and archaeology expert Professor Mark Horton is among those calling for it to be saved, describing it as "a very important discovery".

But the developer says archaeologists have told them the villa does not qualify for preservation.

Resident Christie McLean has started a petition to help save the villa, which had over 2,000 signatures within a day of launching.

Read the rest of this article...

Hoard of ancient Roman coins found in Derbyshire field


Metal detector enthusiasts have unearthed a hoard of ancient Roman coins in a Derbyshire field.

The coins, dating back to the 4th century, were discovered by Thomas Dobson and Robbie Wilson in Parwich in May 2019.

The hoard of 61 coins were classed as treasure at Derby and Derbyshire Coroner's Court on Monday, February 3.

The treasure trove inquest heard that the coins were minted between 380AD and 405AD. Person or persons unknown hid them on land in Parwich and never came back to retrieve them.

The detectorists contacted authorities once they had found the items.

The value of the hoard is not yet known.

Anyone who finds items believed to be more than 300-years-old has a legal obligation to report it under the Treasure Act 1996.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Archaeologists analyze the composition of a Roman-era 'makeup case'

Image of the scallop with pigment residues 
[Credit:University of Granada]

First discovered in 2000 during excavations of a funerary complex in the former capital of the Lusitania, Augusta Emerita (present-day Merida) the 'make-up case' was uncovered in a deposit of cremated remains alongside ceramic cups, bone spindles, nails, glassware and the remains of a detachable bone box.

The make-up case is made from a bivalve malacological mollusk specimen of pecten maximus (viera). Once the shell was opened, it was possible to document the cosmetic remains, specifically, a small ball of a “pinkish” powdery conglomerate via a combination of X-ray diffraction (XRD), electron microscopy and chromatographic analysis.

The use of the mollusk as a cosmetic container is a practice that dates back thousands of years across various civilisations. One of the earliest examples is tiny shells in the Sumerian city of Ur from 2500 BC that contained pigments used for cosmetics.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday, January 24, 2020

Scientists Confirm Mount Vesuvius Eruption Turned Victim's Brain Into Glass


(MILAN) — The eruption of Mount Vesuvius turned an incinerated victim’s brain material into glass, the first time scientists have verified the phenomenon from a volcanic blast, officials at the Herculaneum archaeology site said Thursday.

Archaeologists rarely recover human brain tissue, and when they do it is normally smooth and soapy in consistency, according to an article detailing the discovery in the New England Journal of Medicine. The eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79 instantly killed the inhabitants of Pompeii and neighboring Herculaneum, burying an area 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the volcano in ash in just a few hours.

The remains of a man lying on a wooden bed were discovered at Herculaneum, closer to Vesuvius than Pompeii, in the 1960s. He is believed to have been the custodian of a place of worship, the Collegium Augustalium.

A team led by Pier Paolo Petrone, a forensic anthropologist at the Federico II University in Naples, determined that the victim’s brain matter had been vitrified, a process by which tissue is burned at a high heat and turned into glass, according to the study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. The fragments presented as shards of shiny black material spotted within remnants of the victim’s skull.

Read the rest of this article...

Mount Vesuvius eruption: Extreme heat 'turned man's brain to glass'

The black, shiny fragments are believed to be the glassy remains of a man's brain
THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE/DR PIER PAOLO

Extreme heat from the Mount Vesuvius eruption in Italy was so immense it turned one victim's brain into glass, a study has suggested.

The volcano erupted in 79 AD, killing thousands and destroying Roman settlements near modern-day Naples.

The town of Herculaneum was buried by volcanic matter, entombing some of its residents.

A team of researchers has been studying the remains of one victim, unearthed at the town in the 1960s.

A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, said fragments of a glassy, black material were extracted from the victim's skull.

Read the rest of this article...

Hideous lingering deaths suffered by victims of Vesuvius eruption revealed

The archaeological site of Herculaneum in Ercolano, near Naples, with the Mount Vesuvius volcano in the background (Image: AP/ Getty)

People who died in the Mount Vesuvius eruption of AD79 had a slower death than previously believed, according to new research. 

It is commonly thought that people living in the seaside town of Herculaneum, who fled to stone boathouses along the beachfront when the volcano erupted, were vaporised by the extreme heat of the volcanic eruption. 

But a new analysis of skeletons from the scene shows that they may have lived long enough to suffocate from the toxic fumes of the pyroclastic flow – the devastating, ultra-fast stream of hot gas and volcanic matter which flows from some eruptions. 

Archaeologists found that the structure of the skeletons and remaining collagen was inconsistent with vaporisation, suggesting that the bodies were not exposed to temperatures as extreme as expected.

Read the rest of this article...