Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lead poisoning in Rome: The skeletal evidence

A recent article in the online publication io9, “The First Artificial Sweetener Poisoned Lots of Romans“  provided a (very) brief look at some of the uses of lead (Pb) in the Roman world, including the tired old hypothesis that it was rampant lead poisoning that led to the downfall of Rome -  along with gonorrhoea, Christianity, slavery, and the kitchen sink.

The fact the Romans loved their lead is not in question, with plenty of textual and archaeological sources that inform us of the uses of lead – as cosmetics, ballistics, sarcophagi, pipes, jewellery, curse tablets, utensils and cooking pots, and, of course sapa and defrutum (wine boiled down in lead pots) – but what almost all news articles regarding the use of lead in ancient Rome seem to ignore is data from osteological evidence.

Contemporary medical knowledge allows us to understand that metabolic disorders can be caused by a lack of nutrients: a lack of vitamin C causes scurvy; and a lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets; but they can also be caused by an abundance of something, like too much fluoride, too much mercury, too much arsenic, or too much lead.

Read the rest of the article...

So what have the Romans ever done for us?

Ireland’s links with the Roman empire are being investigated in a new archaeological project in which science plays a large part writes ANTHONY KING 

FIRST CENTURY AD. The Roman General Agricola reportedly says he can take and hold Ireland with a single legion. Some archaeologists have claimed the Romans did campaign in Ireland, but most see no evidence for an invasion. Imperial Rome and this island on its far western perimeter did share interesting links, however.

The Discovery Programme, a Dublin-based public institution for advanced research in archaeology, is to investigate Ireland’s interactions with the empire and with Roman Britain, aiming to fill gaps in the story of the Irish iron age, the first 500 years after the birth of Christ.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Suffolk Roman gold and silver coins declared treasure

The discovery of Roman gold and silver coins on farmland in Suffolk suggests "relatively high status people" lived in the area, an archaeologist has said.

Fifteen silver coins and one gold coin were found by a father and son on farmland, near Mildenhall, on 12 October last year.

A treasure trove inquest in Bury St Edmunds heard they dated to between 355 and around 402.

Coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded the discovery as treasure.

Read the rest of this article...

The Seedy, Scandalous History of Valentine's Day

Forget roses, chocolates and candlelight dinners. On Valentine's Day, that's rather boring stuff -- at least according to ancient Roman standards.

Imagine half-naked men running through the streets, whipping young women with bloodied thongs made from freshly cut goat skins. Although it might sound like some sort of perverted sadomasochistic ritual, this is what the Romans did until A.D. 496.

Mid-February was Lupercalia (Wolf Festival) time. Celebrated on Feb. 15 at the foot of the Palatine Hill beside the cave where, according to tradition, the she-wolf had suckled Romulus and Remus, the festival was essentially a purification and fertility rite.

Read the rest of this article...

Snow damages Colosseum

Rome - Heavy snow has caused extensive damage to the mediaeval walled town of Urbino and further deteriorated the Colosseum in Rome, already badly in need of repair, Italian newspapers reported on Tuesday.

Partial collapses have been reported at the convents of San Francesco and San Bernardino in Urbino and the roof of the Church of the Capuchins outside the town centre has completely caved in, La Repubblica reported.

There is also water damage in the town's 12th-century Duomo cathedral.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Firm helps protect Roman ruins

Gallagher Group have helped preserve some Roman walls dug up by archaeologists – by burying them again.
After being recorded by Maidstone Archaeology Group, the walls of the Roman building near East Farleigh were due to be back-filled anyway, but fears they could be damaged by frost meant the job needed to be done quickly.

The Maidstone-based building, civil engineering, quarrying and property business provided a digger and staff for a day to get the job done.

Linda Weeks, Honorary Secretary of the Maidstone Area Archaeological Group, thanked everyone who helped out, adding: “We were concerned that the ragstone walls of the Roman buildings would have been damaged by the winter frosts, but Gallagher’s timely intervention has meant these walls have now been preserved.”

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Archaeology: More details emerge about Roman ruins in Bulgaria’s Bourgas

More details have emerged about the archaeological find of Roman ruins at a spot near Bourgas on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast – including the fact that they have been found before and funding already has been allocated to investigate them.

The ruins emerged after huge seas scoured the Black Sea coast earlier in February 2012, prompting speculation whether this represented a hitherto unknown Roman settlement or just a small sewerage or sanitation installation.

Bourgas mayor Dimitar Nikolov went to see for himself and trumpeted the find, which hit national headlines amid the bitter winter weather chaos.

But it turned out that the existence of the ruins was well-known to archaeologists and 120 000 leva (about 60 000 euro) already had earmarked to investigate the site.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Time Team: Mary-Ann Ochota quits Channel 4 archaeological show

Time Team has been thrown into disarray after Mary-Ann Ochota became the second presenter to leave the Channel 4 archaeological programme. 

Mary-Ann Ochota, 30, who holds a master’s degree in archaeology and anthropology from Cambridge University, has left the show after a row with Prof Mick Aston, the archaeologist.
Her leaving the show comes after Prof Aston, 65, also quit the show after producers hired Ms Ochota, a former model, as the programme’s co-presenter with Tony Robinson.
Prof Ashton, who has been on the show for 19 years, said he had been left “really angry” by changes which led to the introduction of co-presenter and some archaeologists being axed.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reply to my complaint to Channel 4 concerning Time Team Changes

As expected, a wishy-washy response - but the more people who write in, the better!

"Dear Mr Beard,

Thank you for contacting Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries regarding TIME TEAM.

We are sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the new format of the show and that Prof. Mick Aston has decided to leave. We are saddened by Mick 's decision to leave, he has been a fantastic member of the Time Team team and we wish him well in the future.

Please be assured your complaint has been logged and noted for the information of those responsible for our programming.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate all feedback from our viewers; complimentary or otherwise.


Doug Masterson

Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries"

Please take the time to send your own comments to Channel 4.  Use the link here...

See the original story " Mick Aston quits Time Team after producers hire former model co-presenter"...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mick Aston quits Time Team after producers hire former model co-presenter

Mick Aston, the archeologist, has quit Time Team after producers hired a former model as the programme’s co-presenter. 

The 65-year-old, who has been on the show for 19 years, said he had been left “really angry” by changes which led to the introduction of co-presenter Mary-Ann Ochota and some archaeologists being axed.
In an interview with the magazine British Archaeology, Prof Aston, the show’s former site director, said: “The time had come to leave. I never made any money out of it, but a lot of my soul went into it. I feel really, really angry about it.”
He was responding to changes first proposed by producers at Channel 4 in late 2010, which included a new presenter to join Tony Robinson and decisions to “cut down the informative stuff about the archaeology”.

Read the rest of this article...

Click here to contact Channel 4 to tell them what you think of their decision.