Thursday, May 28, 2020

Roman mosaic floor found under Italian vineyard

Local officials said scholars first found evidence of a villa at the site more than a century ago
COMUNE DI NEGRAR DI VALPOLICELLA

A Roman mosaic floor has been discovered under a vineyard in northern Italy after decades of searching.

Surveyors in the commune of Negrar di Valpolicella north of Verona published images of the well-preserved tiles buried under metres of earth.

According to officials, scholars first found evidence of a Roman villa there more than a century ago.

Technicians are still gently excavating the site to see the full extent of the ancient building.

Images posted online show the pristine mosaic as well as foundations of the villa.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Historical city travel guide: Rome, 1st century AD

The Roman Forum, study for theatrical scene in Shakespeare's 'Coriolanus'. Hodgkin, 1800-1860. 
Pen and grey ink with watercolour.

Location

Rome in Latium, central Italy, is the capital of the Roman Empire. The great city is said to have been founded by Romulus, who was raised with his brother Remus by a she-wolf. He was a descendant of the prince Aeneas, who escaped his home city of Troy after it was sacked by the Greeks. However, the city’s origins are likely to have been slightly less romantic, developing in the 8th century BC through the merging of several villages.

Spanning seven hills on the left bank of the river Tiber, Rome is located about 22 km (14 miles) inland from the Mediterranean Sea as the crow flies. The area is suitable for farming and characterised by warm weather, but the plains between the hills were originally swampy and subject to flooding. That is why, initially, different villages developed on the hilltops rather than in the Tiber valley.

The city now sits at the centre of an empire which stretches from Spain to Syria and is rapidly growing.

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Practical joke or toy? Leather ‘mouse’ shows Romans' playful side

A mouse made out of leather, about 12cm long, has been discovered at the Roman fort of Vindolanda, south of Hadrian’s Wall, in Northumberland. Photograph: The Vindolanda Trust

The Roman author Pliny the Younger advised “kissing the hairy muzzle of a mouse” as a cure for the common cold. His fellow countrymen linked mice to the god Apollo, who could bring deadly plague upon them with his arrows.

So they might not have seen the funny side of a lifelike mouse made out of a strip of leather which has been newly discovered at the Roman fort of Vindolanda, south of Hadrian’s Wall, near Hexham, Northumberland.

About the size of a real rodent and lying unnoticed until now among thousands of leather offcuts held by the Vindolanda Museum since 1993, it looks as if it had been squashed flat after being run over – perhaps by a Roman cart.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Coronavirus: Lockdown boost for archaeology as amateurs uncover Roman remains

The technology can 'strip away' vegetation and modern features to reveal what is underneath

Self-isolating volunteers analyse aerial survey maps to reveal ancient roads and settlements.

Lockdown has given archaeology an unexpected boost with volunteers finding previously unrecorded Roman, prehistoric and medieval sites from the comfort of their own homes.

In a project coordinated by a team at Exeter University, enthusiastic amateurs have been analysing images derived from Lidar (light detection and ranging) data - laser technology used during aerial surveys to produce highly detailed topographical maps.

Modern vegetation and buildings can be digitally removed, allowing archaeologists to look at the shape of the land surface to find the remains of archaeological earthworks.

The data is being systematically examined and cross-referenced with records of known archaeology and historic maps, meaning the total of new discoveries regularly changes.

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Archeologists discover prehistoric sites – while working from home

A probable Iron Age or Roman enclosed settlement (indicated by red arrows) and an associated field system (inidicated by blue arrows), which is hidden beneath woodland but has been revealed by volunteers using light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data during lockdown. (Credits: PA)

Dozens of previously-unrecorded Roman, prehistoric and medieval sites have been discovered by archaeology volunteers based at home during the coronavirus lockdown. Digging may be on hold due to the pandemic, but the team have found parts of two Roman roads, around 30 prehistoric or Roman large embanked settlement enclosures, and some 20 prehistoric burial mounds, as well as the remains of hundreds of medieval farms, field systems and quarries. 

Those leading the project believe they will make many more discoveries in the coming weeks. 

The team are analysing images derived from LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Roman-Era Burial Mound Excavated in Bulgaria


Archaeology in Bulgaria reports that archaeologist Kalin Chakarov of the Regional Museum of History in Veliko Tarnovo and his team conducted a rescue excavation of a Thracian burial mound in north-central Bulgaria. The mound held 19 graves. The cremated dead had been placed in chambers with offerings and personal belongings. The grave in the center of the mound held parts of a vessel made from an ostrich eggshell that was probably imported from Africa or Asia; a gold-plated silver brooch, or fibula, bearing an image of the deity known as the Thracian Horseman; and a ceramic jug decorated with a sculpture resembling a theatrical face mask. “The fibula is extremely expensive,” said museum director Ivan Tsarov. “It was custom-made, probably in the atelier of some Aegean craftsman. 

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Monday, May 11, 2020

1,700-year-old board game found in Norwegian burial mound

The burial cairn site [Credit: UiB]

This April, the University Museum of Bergen, excavated the remains of a small Early Iron Age grave cairn at Ytre Fosse, Western Norway. The location is spectacular, overlooking Alversund and the “Indre Skipsleia”, a part of the old shipping lane, Nordvegen, – which gave Norway its name. The whole area is dotted with monumental grave mounds on both sides of Alversund, symbols of an Iron Age political landscape and the power and control of goods and travels along the Norwegian coast. 

The grave turned out to be a cremation patch containing 3 ceramic pots, a bronze pin, burnt glass and 18 gaming pieces and an elongated dice. The dice is of a very rare type, exclusive for Roman Iron Age (AD 1 - 400). In Scandinavia, similar dices are found in the famous Vimose weapon-offering site at Fyn, Denmark.

At Vimose also the gaming board was preserved, giving a unique view into Early Iron Age board games among the Germanic tribes in Scandinavia. Board games, inspired by the Roman game Ludus latrunculorum, seems to have been played amongst the elite in Roman Iron Age Scandinavia. These games are also the forerunner to the more famous Viking Age (AD 750-1050) board game Hnefatafl.

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Archaeologists in Denmark discover huge defensive structure from the Roman Iron Age

Credit: Museum Lolland-Falster

Archaeologists have unearthed a massive structure in Lolland that is believed to have been used to ward off an attacking army back in the Roman Iron Age.  So far, 770 metres of the structure has been detected, but Museum Lolland-Falster estimates it could stretch to twice that.  

“This is a really big structure. It’s taken a lot of work to build,” Bjornar Mage, an archaeologist and curator from Museum Lolland-Falster, told TV2 News. “We believe the structure was built around a kilometre from the coast between two impenetrable wetland areas – in a bid to stop attacking foe from entering Lolland.”  

The structure involved the digging of long lines and rows of holes in the earth – at least 10,000 holes are estimated to have been dug. In similar structures discovered in Jutland, the defensive ‘belt’ was combined with sharpened poles. 

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Section of Theodosian Walls of Constantinople collapses

Credit: Greek City Times

A section of the famous Theodosian Walls (Tower 69) of Constantinople (modern Istanbul), located on Sulukule Street in the Topkapi neighbourhood, has collapsed "due to an unknown reason", Turkish news sources have reported.

The reports state that police and firefighters attended the scene. While there were no dead or injured in the incident, police inspected around the area where the crash occurred, while municipal teams cleared the fallen rubble from the walls.

In their present state, the Theodosian Walls stretch for about 5.7 km from south to north, from the "Marble Tower" (Turkish: Mermer Kule), also known as the "Tower of Basil and Constantine" (Gk. Pyrgos Basileiou kai Konstantinou) on the Propontis coast to the area of the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus (Tr. Tekfur Sarayi) in the Blachernae quarter.

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

Dunwich – The medieval town lost at sea

Chapel of St James’ Leper Hospital, Dunwich St James’ Hospital was a C12 leper hospital located just to the west of the medieval coastal town of Dunwich.

Dunwich is a small rural village located on the Suffolk coast in England. Visitors will find a quaint English pub, tea rooms and a pebble beach popular with holiday makers.
At first glance, there’s nothing overly remarkable about this picturesque setting, but beneath the surface Dunwich has a unique story to tell that spans centuries….

The earliest evidence of occupation around the Dunwich area starts in the Roman period, with scant but suggestive evidence of a large settlement. The Anglo-Saxon chronicler Bede referred to “Dunmoc” as a “Civitas”, with archaeological discoveries that includes a Roman tumulus and masonry trawled from the nearby seabed.

The Roman document, ‘Notilia Dignitatum’ even refers to a late Roman fort or station in the area, but due to the continual coastal erosion, any surviving remains of the fort or settlement would be hundreds of metres out to sea.

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