Monday, August 20, 2012

Roman 'curse tablet' found in Kent

(Clockwise from top left) The tablet as originally found; after it was unrolled; a close-up of the letter "R" as seen through a microscope; and the tablet transcribed

If you were called Sacratus, Constitutus or Memorianus, and had some bad luck in Roman Kent, archaeologists may have discovered why.

A "curse tablet" made of lead and buried in a Roman farmstead has been unearthed in East Farleigh.
Inscribed in capital letters are the names of 14 people, which experts believe were intended to have bad spells cast upon them.

The tablet is being examined by a specialist from Oxford University.

It was discovered by the Maidstone Area Archaeological Group during a dig and has undergone a detailed series of tests.

Devon excavations reveal Roman influence

Excavations are underway to unearth the mysteries of Devon’s newly discovered settlement dating back to Roman times.

Following the recent discovery of over 100 Roman coins in fields several miles west of Exeter, evidence of an extensive settlement including roundhouses, quarry pits and track ways was found from a geophysical survey.  The site covers at least 13 fields and it the first of its kind in Devon which could force us to rewrite the history of the Romans in Britain.

Dr Ioana Oltean and Dr Martin Pitts, the University of Exeter’s Roman archaeology specialists, together with Danielle Wootton, Devon Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), Sam Moorhead, National Finds Adviser for Iron Age and Roman coins for the PAS at the British Museum, and Bill Horner, County Archaeologist at Devon County Council are leading the archaeological research which is proving to show the influence of Roman culture to be greater than previously thought.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Three generations of Roman graves found alongside "miraculous" textiles at Maryport

A child’s grave and pits full of bone shards, tooth enamel, bead necklaces and Roman roofing have been discovered in the massive archaeological dig which has turned Camp Farm, in Maryport, into a hotbed of Roman finds this summer.

The westernmost pit at the Cumbria site has been revealed as a long cist grave. Its stone lining is typical of burials at the end and shortly after the Roman era in the west of Europe and southern Scotland.

“We’re discovering new things on an almost daily basis which are giving us new insights into what happened on this site across hundreds of years,” said Tony Wilmot, the site director.

“What we think we’re looking at is a Christian cemetery close to a sequence of Christian religious buildings.

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Maryport dig reveals more about life on the Roman frontier

The Maryport archaeological excavation site at Camp Farm, next to the Roman fort and settlement, has just closed after a ten week season. It has once again yielded new information about life on the Roman frontier in the north of England.

This is the second year a team of Newcastle University archaeologists and volunteers led by project director Professor Ian Haynes with site director Tony Wilmott has made discoveries which challenge and inform archaeological theories held worldwide.

Roman and early Christian finds

Bone fragments, caps of tooth enamel, a glass bead necklace and a tiny fragment of ancient textile have been found in newly discovered early Christian graves. Other finds include carved Roman stone work and the first complete altar stone to be unearthed at the site since 1870 when the internationally famous cache of 17 was discovered by landowner and antiquarian Humphrey Senhouse and his team.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Roman amphora full of wine found in Andalusia


Archaeologists in Vélez-Málaga Town Hall have discovered a Roman Amphora, dating from the first century.

The Amphora [Credit: EFE]
The Amphora had been lost for years, but was found again in 1960 before being forgotten once again.

What’s more the experts say it’s still full of wine which they think is in ‘perfect conditions’ because the vessel is hermetically sealed.

The Councillor for Culture and Heritage in Vélez-Málaga, José Antonio Fortes (PP), explain to journalists that the amphora was hermetically ‘sealed with resin and lime, and contains between 25 and 30 litres of a liquid which the municipal technicians think is wine.

Destined to be part of the merchandise going from Hispania to Rome, the Amphora was left forgotten in Vélez-Málaga Town Hall, found in 1960 in the basements of the Beniel Palace, and then forgotten again in the municipal buildings.

The metre-high Amphora will form part of the new museum on Vélez-Málaga History, which will hold Mesopotamian, Greek, Phoenician and Roman items in the old Hospital de San Juan de Dios, which was founded at the end of the 15th century by the Catholic Kings.

The contents are to be analyzed in a few days time, by a specialist laboratory. Seems a bit of a shame, but Cheers!

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Prof Mick Aston visits archaeological dig at York's Guildhall and Mansion House

ONE of Britain’s most famous archaeologists has visited an excavation uncovering secrets from York’s past. 

Prof Mick Aston, former presenter of Time Team, dropped in at the dig between the Guildhall and Mansion House yesterday to meet staff from York Archaeological Trust and to look around the site. 

Archaeologists have been excavating part of the Guildhall yard, the basements of the Mansion House, and an underground passageway leading to the River Ouse known as Common Hall Lane. 

Prof Aston, who left Time Team after almost two decades earlier this year, said there was a wealth of York’s history to be uncovered.

Roman mosaic found during Toft Green sewer work

ENGINEERS repairing a York sewer found more than they bargained for when they uncovered a Roman mosaic floor. 

A 120-metre section of damaged Victorian sewer in Toft Green was in the process of being replaced when workers spotted the mosaic tiles. 

Work immediately stopped and a team of archaeologists stepped in to carry out a detailed study of the site, confirming that engineers had stumbled upon a Roman mosaic floor, dating back to the 3rd to 4th Centuries AD. 

After two weeks of excavations the floor has been painstakingly removed.

Near-Intact Roman Ship Holds Jars of Food

An almost intact Roman ship has been found in the sea off the town on Varazze, some 18 miles from Genova, Italy.

The ship, a navis oneraria, or merchant vessel, was located at a depth of about 200 feet thanks to a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) following tips from fishermen who had caught some jars in their nets.

The ship sank about 2,000 years ago on her trade route between Spain and central Italy with a full cargo of more than 200 amphorae.

Test on some of the recovered jars revealed they contained pickled fish, grain, wine and oil. The foodstuffs were traded in Spain for other goods.

"There are some broken jars around the wreck, but we believe that most of the amphorae inside the ship are still sealed and food filled," Lt. Col. Francesco Schilardi, who led the Carabinieri Subacquei (police divers), said.

Roman altar found on Maryport dig site

Tony Wilmott and John Murray turn over the altar to read the inscriptions [Credit: ITV Border]

A complete Roman altar, the first to be uncovered since 1870, has been found on Camp Farm in Maryport. 

The altar, discovered by Beckfoot volunteer John Murray, has lain buried for uo to 1,600 years. 

Tony Wilmott, site director of the Maryport excavation, said that it was the most exciting find he had known in 42 years as an archaeologist and 25 years working on Hadrian’s Wall. 

He said: “I bought a bottle of whisky at the Birdoswald dig 25 years ago and offered it to the first person to find something like this. 

“This time, the whisky went to John Murray.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Story of mystery Roman "time capsule" burial goes on show at Corbridge Roman Town

Soldiers from re-enactment group the Ermine Street Guard have used the Corbridge Hoard, which is at the centre of a new English Heritage display, as inspiration for their Roman armour© Andrew Heptinstall Photography

In 1964, a hoard found at Corbridge, in the thick of Hadrian’s Wall Country, astonished curators thanks to its well-preserved set of tools, weaponry, wax writing tablets, papyrus and other items essential to the 2nd century Roman soldier.

Almost 50 years on, an interactive display in the Roman Town aims to give the public an entirely new picture of the contents of the iron-bound, leather-covered wooden chest, bringing together the work of Roman specialists still debating precisely why the collection was buried.

“When the hoard was first discovered, it was like finding a time capsule from the past,” says Kevin Booth, a senior curator at site owners English Heritage.

'Special' find at Cumbrian dig

Archaeologists excavating a field near the Senhouse museum in Maryport have discovered a Roman military altar.

Seventeen altar stones were originally found on the site in 1870.This latest addition comes after three months of digging on the site.

Volunteer John Murray, a Maryport resident, made the find. He told ITV Border:
"I decided to come back and do this year's dig as I knew there was something to find.
"I was drawn to this pit in particular and I couldn't believe it when we realised it was an altar stone. It is a very special find."
– John Murray

Please help us keep Vale treasure hoard in area

AN urgent fund-raising appeal has been launched to keep the largest haul of treasure found in Worcestershire in the county. 

Museums Worcestershire has just four months to raise the £40,000 needed to acquire and conserve nearly 4,000 Roman coins found on Bredon Hill last October. 

The discovery of the coins, thought to be once owned by a Roman soldier, was made by metal detector enthusiasts Jethro Carpenter and Mark Gilmore, and revealed a previously undiscovered Roman site. 

If enough money is raised it is hoped that the coins, which are currently held in the British Museum, can be displayed at a number of venues across the county.

Fresh water piping system found at Roman fort

An archaeologist in Northumberland has uncovered more of a Roman water system first found by his grandfather. 

Aerial view of Vindolanda Fort  [Credit: Vindolanda Trust]  

Dr Andrew Birley and a team of volunteers have been excavating land surrounding Vindolanda fort just south of Hadrian's Wall. 

The project to discover and record the pipework at the fort near Hexham was started 82 years ago. The team has identified the spring-head and piping system used thousands of years ago. 

During an excavation in 1930, led by Prof Eric Birley, an area of the Vindolanda site became flooded and not suitable for further investigation.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Roman shipwreck in the ancient port of Antibes

Remains of a Roman shipwreck found by archaeologists at Antibes, southern France. 
Image: © Rémi Bénali, Inrap

 A team of archaeologists from Inrap have uncovered a Roman shipwreck in southern France, in what was once part of the bustling ancient port of Antibes.

Ancient Antipolis

Antibes was known as Antipolis – a Greek colony – and situated on the coast of Provence, it occupied a privileged position on the sea routes linking Marseilles to the Italian coast and contained a natural harbour – Anse Saint-Roch – which protected shipping from prevailing winds.

The harbour

The archaeologists have been exploring the ancient harbour basin that had progressively silted up in antiquity. The basin contains a wealth of objects and information from the third century BC to the sixth century AD. Tens of thousands of objects have already been excavated from the bay of Saint-Roch, including goods from the Mediterranean basin, illustrating the vitality of the ancient port and trade in this part of the world.

Sea gives up a portrait of ancient Rome

Residents knew riches lay beneath because local fishermen had been collecting artefacts in their nets.
FOR 2000 years the ancient and decomposing hulk lay buried in deep, muddy waters, off the Italian coast.

Everybody knew it was down there because for more than 80 years local fishermen had been collecting bits of Roman artefacts and pots in their nets.

Finds of this nature are not unusual in Italian waters, which are littered with treasures going back thousands of years.

But these artefacts told a different story, and it was good enough to attract the interest of the archaeological community and a police commander who heads an expert diving squad in the city of Genoa.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Silchester Iron Age finds reveal secrets of pre-Roman Britain

By the gap in a hedge bordering the entrance off a muddy lane in Hampshire, the young diggers on one of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Britain have made a herb garden: four small square plots. The sudden blast of sunshine after months of heavy rain has brought everything into bloom, and there’s a heady scent of curry plant and dill, marigold and mint.

Many of the plant seeds are familiar from Roman sites across Britain, as the invaders brought the flavours and the medical remedies of the Mediterranean to their wind-blasted and sodden new territory, but there is something extraordinary about the seeds from the abandoned Iron Age and Roman town of Silchester.

The excavation run every summer by Dr Amanda Clarke and Professor Michael Fulford of the archaeology department at Reading University, using hundreds of volunteer students, amateurs and professionals, now in its 15th season, is rewriting British history.

The banal seeds are astonishing because many came from a level dating to a century before the Romans. More evidence is emerging every day, and it is clear that from around 50BC the Iron Age Atrebates tribe, whose name survived in the Latin Calleva Atrebatum, the wooded place of the Atrebates, enjoyed a lifestyle that would have been completely familiar to the Romans when they arrived in AD43.

Roman dig reveals early Christian graves

Early Christian graves recently unearthed by archaeologists are to be the highlight of daily tours of Maryport Roman fort. 

Visitors to Senhouse Roman Museum, which is at the fort, will find out what happens during excavations.
They will also be able to see recently unearthed evidence of Christian graves during the daily tours until 14 August. 

A spokesman for the museum said the discovery of the graves was exciting and shed "new light" on the Dark Ages. 

Remnants from the grave include bone fragments, caps of tooth enamel, and a thumbnail-sized piece of textiles. 

Peter Greggains, of the Senhouse Museum Trust, said: "The Maryport site's importance as a unique and valuable resource capable of providing information about the remote past has been established beyond doubt, and we now have new light on the Dark Ages."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Archeologists unearth Celtic artifacts, plus ancient Roman and Greek silver coins on future track of Romanian highway

Several metal archeological objects and over 280 silver coins were discovered by archeologists on the track of the future Sibiu – Nadlac highway in Romania. One of the discoveries, a small iron replica of a chariot was deemed unique in the region. The objects discovered in the nine archeological sites, dating from the early Neolithic to the Medieval Ages, will most likely be restored within a year. A first exhibition including some of the objects will be open in May 2013.

A team of 40 Romanian and foreign archeologists searched around 40 kilometers on the future highway track in three counties, Sibiu, Alba and Hunedoara. This was one of the biggest archeological digs ever undertaken in Romania, according to Sabin Luca, director of the Brukenthal National Museum.

Researchers discovered a Bronze age settlement and “the first level of colonization which could be connected to our ancestors dates from the Celtic era, in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC,” according to Sabin Luca. The small iron chariot discovered will most likely be unique, he went on to say. In Celtic areas, the iron chariot is usually buried with the full size chariot, but in this case it was buried separately. The piece was in 80 pieces and its restoration took three weeks.

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Roman aqueduct found under store in Rome

The Roman aqueduct discovered beneath the former Rinascente building [Credit: Wanted in Rome]

Ruins of the Vergine Aqueduct, one of the most important in ancient Rome, have been discovered under the former Rinascente building off Via del Corso, now the home of Spanish retail giant Zara. 

Archaeologists came across the aqueduct under the intersection of Via del Tritone as excavations began to enlarge the retail premises. However the expansion plan – scheduled to take two and a half years – continues, with the intention of opening a larger store in 2015. 

Plans are in place to preserve the ruins and make them visible to visitors, similar to other archaeological discoveries under the capital's shops such as the Ikea store at Anagnina.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Colosseum in Rome is leaning, officials say

The ancient Colosseum in Rome is slanting about 40cm lower on the south side than on the north, and authorities are investigating whether it needs urgent repairs.

Experts first noticed the incline about a year ago and have been monitoring it for the past few months, Rossella Rea, director at the 2,000-year-old monument, said in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, another of Italy's most popular attractions, was reopened in 2001 after being shut for more than a decade as engineers worked to prevent it from falling over and to make it safe for visitors.
Rea has asked La Sapienza University and the environmental geology institute IGAG to study the problem and report back in a year.