Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Ancient Romans' answer to Roadchef? Archaeologists uncover 2,000-year-old road


The Ancient Roman equivalent of a roadside service station has been unearthed in Hertfordshire, along with a hoard of artefacts showing it was once a thriving commercial centre.

The 'once in a lifetime discovery' was made on the site of a planned football pitch at Grange Paddocks leisure centre in Bishop's Stortford.

Like a modern motorway service station, the site comprised several units and would have had everything the weary ancient traveller needed.

This may have included an inn providing refreshments, a blacksmith, and a temple to cater for travellers' religious needs, according to archaeologists.

'It's quite like a services,' said project manager Andrew Greef, from Oxford Archaeology, which has been excavating the site.

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Secrets of the River Thames include Roman brothel tokens and monster-shark teeth


Inventores custodes (or ‘finders keepers’ if you were not the Roman who lost their brothel tokens a few centuries ago). Human bones, animal teeth, credit at ancient knocking shops... these are just some of the items that have been recovered from London’s 30-million-year-old river, 

If you are keen to discover more about what lurks beneath the surface of the Thames then the team at Barratt London have just released a study into what marine life resides in the river, which is England's longest, as well as the strangest items that have been recovered over the years, plus our littering habits and it makes for an eyebrow-raising read.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Pulses race at new erotic Pompeii exhibition

The discoveries initially caused "dismay, embarrassment, and curiosity, and were seen by some as a great opportunity to think about the relationship with their bodies and nudity in a very different way" Andreas SOLARO AFP/File

Raunchy scenes may redden faces at a new exhibition in Pompeii on art and sexuality in the ancient Roman city, where sculptures and paintings of breasts and buttocks abound.

Archaeologists excavating the city, which was destroyed by the eruption of nearby Vesuvius in 79 AD, were initially startled to discover erotic images everywhere, from garden statues to ceiling frescos.

Since those first digs in the 18th-century site, racy images have been found in taverns, thermal baths and private homes, from huge erect penises to a statue with both male and female physical attributes.

It became clear that "this is a city where sensuality, eroticism, are ever-present," Pompeii's site director Gabriel Zuchtriegel told AFP as he stood in front of statues of bare-chested Centaurs.

The discoveries initially caused "dismay, embarrassment, and curiosity, and were seen by some as a great opportunity to think about the relationship with their bodies and nudity in a very different way".

The Neapolitan King Charles VII, who financed the excavations, shut some of the more bawdy finds away in a secret cabinet in Naples, only showing them to those of proven moral standing, Zuchtriegel said.

That secret cabinet still exists today in the archaeological museum in the southern Italian city.

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Second century funerary altar of teenage girl discovered in Rome

Excavations taking place on Via Luigi Tosti in Rome.
(photo credit: FABIO CARICCHIA/ITALIAN MINISTRY OF CULTURE)

A 2nd-century funerary altar marking the remains of a 13-year-old girl was discovered in Rome on Tuesday.

Rome is home to countless archeological sites, some of which are now tourist attractions such as the Colosseum or San Clemente. Others, like this columbarium, are still being excavated. 

Archeologists found the altar approximately two meters below the current street level on Via Luigi Tosti in south-central Rome. The discovery is part of a wider excavation of the necropolis of Via Latina, a nearby street. 

The white marble altar is very well-preserved, and its inscription is clearly legible. It reads: Valeria Laeta, daughter of P[ublio] lived 13 years and 7 months.  Some fragments of a white marble sarcophagus were also found with a bas-relief decoration depicting a lioness and a hunter on horseback. 

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Three metal detectorist friends who stumbled upon a hoard of more than 150 Roman coins dating back to 340 AD are set to make £40,000


A trio of metal detectorists who discovered more than 150 Roman coins after mistaking them for tent pegs could be set to make some £40,000 from the haul.

The band of friends were camping near the ancient village of Pewsey in Wiltshire when they dug up the buried treasure just 6ft from where they pitched their tent.  

Robert Abbot, 53, thought he had found a handful of old metal pegs which had activated his metal detector, but hidden just below was a valuable silver Roman Siliqua coin. 

His detector went into a frenzy and with the help of friends, Dave Allen, 59, a carpenter and Mick Rae, 63, a dairy herd manager, they frantically dug up dozens of the ancient Roman coins.

By the end of their weekend camping trip they had uncovered 161 silver coins, all around 1,600 years old, which they carried home in their washing up bowl.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Spot goes to Pompeii: Why a robot dog is patrolling ancient ruins

Spot can autonomously roam the site checking for safety issues that may emerge Archaeological Park of Pompeii

Boston Dynamics’ robot dog Spot has been tasked with a new job - patrolling the ancient ruins of Pompeii. The robot will be used to inspect the site for safety issues and record structural changes over time to better manage the historic ruins.

Ever since Boston Dynamics began developing its dog-like robot over a decade ago it has been one of those innovative solutions in search of a problem. In recent years, as the company commercialized Spot, it has been given a number of jobs, from working on an oil rig to herding sheep in New Zealand.

Spot’s latest job takes it to Italy and the ancient site of Pompeii, a Roman city famous for being struck by catastrophic volcanic eruption around 2,000 years ago. Part of Spot’s work will be to autonomously roam the site with a 3D scanner tracking any small changes to structures that could signal a need for intervention.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Roman fort damaged by suspected illegal metal detecting


Experts are investigating suspected illegal metal detecting at a Roman fort.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said it is working with police after reports that a large number of holes have been dug at Bar Hill Fort, which forms part of the Antonine Wall Unesco world heritage site.

Many significant Roman artefacts have been discovered at the fort, which is more than 2,000 years old and formed part of the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire.

It is protected as a scheduled monument, meaning metal detecting and the removal of items from the site is illegal without prior consent and is subject to prosecution.

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Climate change threatens Hadrian's Wall treasures in England


Archaeologists at Hadrian's Wall in northern England say global warming could soon ruin undiscovered Roman artefacts.

Nineteen hundred years after it was built to keep out barbarian hordes, archaeologists at Hadrian's Wall are facing a new enemy -- climate change. It is threatening a vast treasure trove of ancient items.

The 118-kilometre stone wall is one of Britain's best-known historic tourist attractions. It crosses England from west coast to east coast, marking the limit of the Roman Empire and forming Britain's largest Roman archaeological feature. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Roman town’s remains found below Northamptonshire field on HS2 route

A 10-metre-wide Roman road was uncovered during the excavation of a wealthy trading settlement, known as Blackgrounds, in Northamptonshire. Photograph: HS2/PA

A wealthy Roman trading town, whose inhabitants adorned themselves with jewellery and ate from fine pottery, has been discovered half a metre below the surface of a remote field in Northamptonshire.

A 10-metre-wide Roman road, domestic and industrial buildings, more than 300 coins and at least four wells have been unearthed at the site, where 80 archaeologists have been working for the past 12 months.

The field, on the Northamptonshire-Oxfordshire border, lies on the route of the HS2 rail network under construction between London and Birmingham. It is one of more than 100 archaeological sites that have been examined along the route since 2018, and among the most significant findings to date.

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Monday, January 10, 2022

Along Hadrian’s Wall, ancient Rome’s temples, towers, and cults come to life

Punctuated with the remains of a milecastle (small fort), Hadrian’s Wall stretches over hilly terrain near Haltwhistle in Northumberland, England. This year, the Roman landmark will be 1,900 years old.
Photograph by Nigel Hicks, Nat Geo Image Collection

New discoveries are still rising from the coast-to-coast wall that once marked the edge of the Roman Empire.

Hadrian’s Wall once marked the extent of the Roman empire in Britannia. Now it’s a pitstop on the way to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, or the country’s largest city, Glasgow. Things have changed over the past two thousand years.

But the 73-mile-long chain of walls, ditches, towers, and forts—which stretches across Great Britain, linking the North Sea and the Irish Sea—continues to fascinate. This year, 1,900 years after construction began, soldiers clad in Roman armor will once again patrol its length and the sounds of ancient instruments will float over its ramparts.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Tiles ‘Fit for the Emperor’ Found in Roman Ruins Beneath English Cricket Club

 

The letters "IMP" stand for imperator, meaning the tile maker was "supplying tiles fit for the emperor" or "on the emperor's demands." Dot Boughton

Excavation of a Roman building on the grounds of a cricket club in the northern English city of Carlisle has yielded tiles with rare imperial stamps linked to Emperor Septimius Severus, reports Ted Peskett for the News & Star.

“The Romans would quite often stamp their tiles,” says archaeologist Frank Giecco, who is leading the dig for British firm Wardell Armstrong. “The legions would stamp tiles, the auxiliaries would stamp tiles; but this is the very top of the pile. This is the imperial court stamping the tile.”

Giecco says similar tiles have previously been found “in random places” across Carlisle. Since researchers discovered the ruined bathhouse in 2017, they’ve uncovered about a dozen of the tiles there, suggesting that the others also originated at the site.

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