Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Plague Helped Bring Down Roman Empire

New evidence suggests the Black Death bacterium caused the Justinianic Plague of the sixth to eighth centuries. The pandemic, named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (shown here), killed more than 100 million people.

Plague may have helped finish off the Roman Empire, researchers now reveal.

Plague is a fatal disease so infamous that it has become synonymous with any dangerous, widespread contagion. It was linked to one of the first known examples of biological warfare, when Mongols catapulted plague victims into cities.

The bacterium that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, has been linked with at least two of the most devastating pandemics in recorded history. One, the Great Plague, which lasted from the 14th to 17th centuries, included the infamous epidemic known as the Black Death, which may have killed nearly two-thirds of Europe in the mid-1300s. Another, the Modern Plague, struck around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning in China in the mid-1800s and spreading to Africa, the Americas, Australia, Europe and other parts of Asia.

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High-tech dig finds Roman farmstead

A high-tech research park is going to be built on land that once housed a Roman farmstead. An archaeological dig on the site of what will become the Haverhill Research Park has revealed traces of activity from the Iron Age through to the 1840s.
High-tech dig finds Roman farmstead
James Newboult said the size of the dig helped reveal the site's extensive history [Credit: BBC]
An Anglo Saxon hall and several pieces of jewellery were also found during the excavation, which covered 4.5 hectares.

Headland Archaeology said the dig had provided a "really interesting window" into Haverhill's history. The research park is being built on the A1307, the main road to Cambridge from Haverhill, and will also include a hotel and housing.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ancient Milan church yields tombs, coins from 4th century

A small church on the outskirts of Milan containing archaeological finds from early Christendom has been declared a heritage site.

Excavations of the Church of Saints James and Philip, which began in March, led to discoveries that are especially important to the history of the Lombardy region and its earliest inhabitants.

Findings related to the community, once known as Nocetum, include tombs of an infant and an adult, and coins dating from the time of Roman emperor Magnentius, usurper of the empire from 350 to 353.

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Ancient Roman Cemetery Discovered Beneath Parking Lot

The Roman cemetery unearthed in Leicester, England, included pagan and Christian burials, Here, a Christian burial being excavated.
The Roman cemetery unearthed in Leicester, England, included pagan and Christian burials, Here, a Christian burial being excavated.
CREDIT: University of Leicester Archaeological Services

Hidden beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, archaeologists have discovered a 1,700-year-old Roman cemetery that seemed to show no religious bias.
The new discovery, found at the junction of Newarke and Oxford Streets, includes numerous burials and skeletal remains from 13 individuals, both male and female of various ages. The cemetery is estimated to date back to around A.D. 300, according to University of Leicester archaeologists who led the dig.
"We have literally only just finished the excavation and the finds are currently in the process of being cleaned and catalogued so that they can then be analyzed by the various specialists," John Thomas, archaeological project officer, told LiveScience in an email. [See Images of the Ancient Roman Cemetery]

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Moles unearth Roman artefacts at Epiacum's ancient fort

Epiacum Roman fort remains

Epiacum's impressive earthwork defences are still visible to this day

Epiacum is a site full of buried treasure, which no-one can reach - no-one human at least.
Near Alston in Cumbria, close to the Northumberland border, where now there are fields, there was once a thriving Roman fort.
Unfortunately for archaeologists, they cannot access any of the historic artefacts beneath the ground - because the site is a scheduled ancient monument.
Moles, however, pay no heed to the land's protected status.
The velvety creatures have not only been digging up the earth, but doing their bit for archaeology by inadvertently pushing ancient objects to the surface.

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Roman cemetery found under UK carpark

The University of Leicester archaeological unit that discovered King Richard III has spearheaded another dig and discovered a 1,700-old- Roman cemetery – under another car park in Leicester. The latest dig follows the historic discovery of King Richard III by colleagues from the same unit.
Roman cemetery found under UK carpark
Archaeologists uncover burials dating back to 300AD at Oxford Street car park,
Leicester [Credit: University of Leicester]
The find has revealed remains thought to date back to 300AD – and includes personal items such as hairpins, rings, belt buckles and remains of shoes.

In addition, the team has found a jet ring with a curious symbol etched onto it, apparently showing the letters IX overlain.  Opinion as to its meaning is divided; it may just be an attractive design but it is also reminiscent of an early Christian symbol known as an IX (Iota-Chi) monogram taken from the initials of Jesus Christ in Greek.

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