Friday, May 25, 2012

Interactive map of the Roman Empire now online

Imagine you’re in Rome, it’s 205 CE, and you’ve got to figure out the quickest way to transport wheat to Virunum, in what’s now Austria. Your transportation choices are limited: ox cart, mule, ship or by foot, and your budget is tight. What do you do?

Enter ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World. With it, you can survey the options that would have been available to an ancient Roman in that very predicament with the ease of getting directions via GPS.

Type in your starting point, destination, the goods you need to move, and the time of year. Voila! You can quickly see the most cost-effective way to transport the grain.

By generating new information about the ancient Roman transport network, ORBIS demonstrates how, more than anything else, the expansion of the empire was a function of cost.

Roman pot to go on display for first time

A ROMAN pot, thought to be up to 2,000 years old, will go on to display to the public for the first time in September.

The artefact, which new analysis shows was used to store dairy products, was found in a pit with other objects during excavations for a garage in Highworth.

Lead “staples” on one side of the storage jar, which is 2ft tall and 11/2 feet wide, show where a break was fixed by its owners 1,700 years ago.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gnawed Roman skeleton that inspired Sylvia Plath poem goes on display

Roman skeleton that inspired Sylvia Plath
The Roman skeleton that inspired Sylvia Plath. It had been taken off display due to overcrowding. Photograph: Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
The skeleton of a Roman woman and the bones of the mouse and shrew that gnawed her ankle in her coffin, inspiring one of Sylvia Plath's most haunting poems, have gone on display.

Plath saw the massive stone sarcophagus and its contents soon after it was excavated in the 1950s, when she was a student at Cambridge.

Staff at the university's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology mounted the rodent bones on a piece of card – also on display again – and showed them in the coffin alongside the remains of the middle-aged woman, which is grimacing as if in pain.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Look for the Current Archaeology Website

Current Archaeology now has a dedicated news editor in-house, and the news articles are now posted on our website as the stories break rather than simply published in the magazine.  You can also subscribe to receive an email newsletter, and there are RSS feeds for your newreader as well.

Go to the Current Archaeology Website...

Twitter Feed:!/CurrentArchaeo

The Current World Archaeology website has also been updated.

Go to the Current World ArchaeologyWebsite...


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Roman coins haul dug up

Roman coins more than 2,000 years old have been discovered in Staffordshire in what experts described today as a significant find.

The silver coins were unearthed by metal detecting enthusiast father-of-three Scott Heeley, from Hednesford.

At least one of 242 coins bears the head of Roman politician and military general Mark Antony, the loyal friend of Julius Caesar.

Experts say it is the most exciting discovery in the area since the Staffordshire Hoard – a collection of the largest haul of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vandals damage Roman stonework at Scarborough castle

Night time attack risks damage to sensitive archaeology dating back more than 2,500 years

Donkeys on Scarborough beach, North Yorkshire, England
Scarborough castle rises on its 300ft cliffs behind the bustle of South Bay beach. Photograph: Julian Calder/Corbis
It is good for the north that the Hepworth Wakefield has reached the final four of the Museum of the Year competition, but there is less happy heritage news from Scarborough.

Vandals have clambered into the town's castle, whose position on the headland is one of the glories of both bays, and done significant damage to Roman stonework.

The fortress is generally well capable of looking after itself, with walls up to 12ft thick and the mortar so hard in places that it has crystallised into spar. There is also a tradition of local people having a go at it; back in 1265, just over a century after the castle's foundation by William the Fat, Earl of Albermarle, Royal troops had to take over to protect the place and its constable from constant attacks.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The how and where of Roman age glassmaking

An EU-funded interdisciplinary study has contributed a deeper understanding of glass production in Italy in the Roman age. 

Roman glass tesserae [Credit: University of Nottingham]
The project ‘The provenance of mosaic tesserae: an interdisciplinary study on Roman age glass production and trade in Italy’ contributed knowledge and offered possible answers to open questions surrounding the Roman age glassmaking industry. An existing reconstruction of the economic model of ancient glass production, focusing on Italy and vitreous mosaic tesserae materials dating from 3rd century BC to 2nd century AD, has been advanced on the basis of archaeological and archaeometric literature. Hypothesising a three-phase productive system, information was lacking on the location of the primary productive centres and trading routes. 

The EU-funded study worked to improve knowledge of ancient vitreous materials and develop a work procedure for applying trace and isotope analysis to the ancient glasses, as well as clarify the origin of the Roman age glasses in Italy. Integrating archaeological fieldwork with analytical characterisation of glass samples, research was successful in a number of areas.

Chichester Roman mosaic moved to Novium museum

A Roman mosaic dating from the 4th Century in the first object to be installed in a new museum due to open in West Sussex in the summer.

The Chilgrove mosaic, discovered at Chilgrove Roman Villa, had to be moved in four sections, from Chichester District Museum to the Novium.

The museum has been built to display the remains of a Roman bath house.

Chichester residents can win the chance to visit the museum the day before it opens to the public on 8 July.

C.R Archaeology

C.R Archaeology will be trying to make known and available all our reports and staff research.

One of my earlier articles 'A second step in Roman watch tower system' published in Transaction of the Anglesey Antiquarian Society.

 NB  If any one has any extra information reference's about watch tower sites in the UK, Especially 'grey literature'/ commercial excavation reports, please get in touch through the C.R. Archgaeology site.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Training Dig at Barcombe Roman site

Following four seasons of research and training excavations, the Barcombe Roman Project will continue in 2012 to investigate the remains of a large Roman bath house complex, at Barcombe, near Lewes, East Sussex, England. This site, in Church Field, is in the adjacent field to the Roman villa excavated between 2001 and 2007. The excavations are a joint project directed by David Rudling of the University of Sussex and Chris Butler of the Mid Sussex Field Archaeological Team. University of Sussex training courses will form part of this project. All courses are suitable for either beginners or for those with some experience, ie those considering archaeology at university (minimum age 16), amateur archaeologists, and undergraduates.

The main courses are six seperate 5-day excavation training courses, starting each Monday from 25 June. These courses include excavation techniques, context records, recording plans and sections, photography, environmental sampling, finds processing, on-site surveying techniques and geophysical prospecting methods. The tuition costs of each 5-day course are £230.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Flower power restores colour to ancient Rome

Italian archaeologists on Saturday inaugurated new flower gardens in the ruins of ancient Roman palaces on the Palatine Hill in a colourful reconstruction of what the area may have looked like 2,000 years ago.

Purple petunias, white leadworts and medicinal vervain have been planted in the ruins of courtyards and shrines where scribes of the time described luxurious gardens created in imitation of the ancient Greeks.

"The Palatine was not only about architecture. It was a game of colours -- frescoes, fountains and flowers. It was nature penetrating into the city," said Maria Rosaria Barbero, the head of Rome's archaeological department.

"We wanted to give the Palatine back its colours," she said, looking at a bed of petunias surrounded by terracotta-red ruins in what was once a vast inner courtyard of the Flavian Palace built by the Emperor Domitian in 92 AD.

How Roman women got around the banking system

Some women in ancient Rome had already implemented the concept of microcredit in order to develop their own work projects.

The study conducted by Carmen Lázaro, professor of Roman Law at the Universitat Jaume I, shows how women managed to get around legal rules that excluded them from using banks to obtain credit. Instead, they developed contracts between themselves to loan or receive small amounts of money, guaranteed by pledging their personal effects – mainly smaller items, such as jewellery.

Tracing the transactions

The existence of this microcredit system is known through various sources – mainly epigraphic – such as the inscriptions found in the Granio House in Pompeii – which reflect legal transactions such as the ones carried out by moneylender Faustilla, who set her interest rate at 6.25%.
Lázaro points out that these loans were done legally and avoided the need to be approved officially by the authorities “since money was a fungible good and therefore, not subject to formalities for the transmission to provide legal effects.”

Friday, May 4, 2012

Students find rare Roman temple on practice dig

Archaeology students got a taste of the real thing during a digging lesson, when they stumbled upon what was this week confirmed to be a Roman temple – in an area not previously thought to have been populated.
Lecturers at Bonn University had set up a mock archaeological dig at a building site on campus to teach hopeful historians digging techniques. What they did not expect to find were the 2,000-year-old foundations of a building, nestled into the dense, clayish mud.

While the initial discovery was made in March, it was only in the past fortnight that the team realised the foundations were from a temple from the Roman era, the floor of which was scattered with broken pottery dating as far back as 800 BC.

The building, which could have been part of a wealthy country estate, was 6.75 metres wide and 7.5 metres long. It was probably made from wood or clay, but roof tiles and iron nails that matched other second century Roman buildings were fished out of the rubble.

Ireland in a Roman World

Sponsored by The Discovery Programme
Saturday, October 20, 2012 - 9:00am - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 2:00pm
Trinity College Dublin
Dublin, DB

The Discovery Programme is proud to announce the first international interdisciplinary conference that will consider how communities in Ireland engaged with the Roman world. We have invited leading academics from Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Denmark and the USA to present papers from across the subjects of Archaeology, History, Classics, Earth Sciences, Iron Age studies and 'Celtic' Studies, covering the Iron Age through to Late Antiquity.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology

The University of Oxford's online courses in archaeology for Trinity term are now open for enrolment.

"Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.
"Our courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past."
You can find the full list of courses here...

Caractacus: Britain's Osama bin Laden?

The second of May marks the first anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. I've been away for five months, writing a book about Roman Britain, and, while the orchestrator of 9/11 hasn't exactly been at the front of my thoughts, he did come to mind because of something that Mary Beard said in a book review in the Sunday Times the other week. The book in question was Sam Moorhouse and David Studdard's excellent The Romans Who Shaped Britain, and Beard's memorable aperçu was: "Britain was Rome's Afghanistan".

Like any such neat phrase, of course it's too neat. And yet, as soon as I read it, I could see what she meant: Britain was a thorn in the side for Rome, requiring a disproportionate number of troops and proving a huge struggle to properly subdue. It wasn't fully conquered until nearly 40 years after the initial invasion, when Agricola won the Battle of Mons Graupius in northern Scotland; and even then the Highlands were let go almost at once. But I couldn't help too being reminded of Caractacus, the Iron Age British leader who fought against the Romans in AD 43 and, despite being assiduously pursued by the Roman war machine, managed to slip away from their grasp, head west, and hold out for seven years in his lair in the Welsh mountains, orchestrating resistance. When finally the Romans caught up with him – defeating him in battle at a north-Wales hillfort – he managed to slip away again, and sought refuge with the northern English Brigantes tribe. Which was a bad idea: Queen Cartimandua, a Roman ally, handed him over to the Romans.