Monday, December 19, 2011

Hull museum's Roman mosaics gets specialist makeover

CLEANING floor tiles can be a pretty mundane household chore.

But when they happen to be part of a stunning collection of Roman mosaics, the job takes on a whole new meaning.

Museum staff in Hull have just finished a specialist makeover of their priceless exhibits in the Hull And East Riding Museum, in High Street.

Paula Gentil, the museum's curator of archaeology, said the careful clean-up was long overdue.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

University of Oxford Online Archaeology Courses

Enrolment is now open for the following University of Oxford online courses in archaeology:
Archaeology of the Bible Lands (Online)
Exploring Roman Britain (Online)
Greek Mythology (Online)
Origins of Human Behaviour (Online)
Ritual and Religion in Prehistory (Online)
Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (Online)

Roman circus site may open next summer

THE place where charioteers started and finished their races at Colchester’s Roman circus could be open to the public by next summer.

Colchester Archaeological Trust has been given planning permission for a project which will allow visitors to look at the foundations of the circus’s starting gates and watch re-enactments of scenes last seen almost two millennia ago.

The trust has permission to redevelop the Army Education Centre, near the starting gates, and hopes to move into the former Garrison building in February.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Roman Cockerel found in Gloucestershire archaeological dig

THIS intricately decorated Roman cockerel has been discovered at a landmark burial site in Cirencester.

Archaeologists have uncovered the striking bird figurine, which could be an offering to the gods, from a young child's grave during excavations for St James's Place Wealth Management at the former Bridges Garage site.

Cotswold Archaeology chief executive Neil Holbrook said: "The cockerel is the most spectacular find from more than 60 Roman burials excavated at this site." It is the latest treasure to be found at the important plot, which has already yielded more than 60 skeletons and is believed to be one of the earliest burial sites ever found in Roman Britain.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

London built with the blood of British slaves

The Romans founded London as a centre of trade and business in about AD 50 - or so archaeologists have long believed.

But new evidence suggests the capital has a more chilling history, built as a military base by slaves who were then slaughtered. Hundreds of skulls discovered along the course of the "lost" river Walbrook suggest London may have been built by forced labour.

Dominic Perring, director of the Centre for Applied Archaeology at University College London, says the skulls could be those of Queen Boudica's rebel Iceni tribesmen who were brought to London to build a new military base.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Bronze coins found in Somerset reveal Roman age of austerity

Archaeologists are celebrating the donation of a hoard of Roman coins – described as “ a hugely significant find” – to the new Museum of Somerset.

The 2,118 bronze coins, found by archaeologists excavating a site at Maundown, near Wiveliscombe, before Wessex Water built a new water treatment plant, may be evidence of financial crisis in Romano-British Somerset.

They were found in 2006 and have been donated to Somerset County Council by Wessex Water after a Treasure Inquest at Taunton last week heard that the British Museum disclaimed interest on behalf of the Crown.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

An intimate look at ancient Rome

When you visit sites of ancient Roman civilization, it's hard to know where to look first: Temples, markets, brothels and baths all draw the eye and the imagination. But if you really want to know what it was like to live in ancient Rome, you may want to consider the humble toilet.

On a recent trip to Italy, I went in search of ancient toilets at archaeological sites people usually visit for their temples, markets, brothels and baths. Apart from the fun factor -- and that factor is high when it comes to learning about the sponge-tipped sticks some Romans used as toilet paper -- toilets give a sense of ancient Roman daily life. From the lavish, marble-seated group toilet of Ostia Antica to the humble below-the-stairs john at Herculaneum, the places where Romans conducted their daily, er, business are worth a closer look.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Roman murder most foul

Three incomplete skeletons have been uncovered in Modena, Italy, and point to a 2000 year old Roman mystery which is being investigated by archaeologists and researchers from the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of the Emilia-Romagna.

The discovery was made at the site of a new development to the east of Modena along the Via Emilia, between San Lazzaro and Fossalta. At a depth of only 60cm the archaeologists from ArcheoModena found the remains of a cremation necropolis and a 1st century Roman irrigation ditch/canal. The necropolis, which ran along the ancient Via Emilia, produced a few cremation burials and the remains of a shrine that had been robbed out in antiquity.

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UNESCO unveils deal to help restore damaged Pompeii

The United Nations cultural agency and Italy announced today that they have agreed to work together to restore Pompeii, which was badly damaged by torrential rains late last year.

In a statement issued in Paris, UNESCO said it would collaborate with Italian authorities over the next nine months on the restoration.

Several key buildings, including the Schola Armaturarum (Gladiators’ House) and the House of the Moralist, collapsed in November 2010, sparking international concern about the state of the site. (read report here)

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Italy: Colosseum work pits restorers against building firms

Rome, 1 Dec. (AKI) - The artisans that restore Italy's vast art and archeological sites say they are excluded from the project to give the Roman Colosseum a 25 million-euro face-lift and called on the government to stop all work or risk causing "irreparable damage'' to the 2,000 year old amphitheatre.

According to the Rome-based Restorers Association of Italy trade group, a government official charged with overseeing work on Rome's archeological sites two years ago changed contract bidding rules largely squeezing out art and archeology restoration firms in favour of large building contracting companies with far less knowledge on repairing the country's fragile historical heritage. .

In an open letter to Italy's new culture minister Lorenzo Oraghi published Thursday, the restorers group called on him to stop the bidding or "to avoid irreparable damage to the Italy's most celebrated monument with consequences of causing damage to Italy's image."
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