Thursday, December 20, 2012

Roman settlement remains found at Kingskerswell bypass

he remains of what is believed to be a 2,000-year-old Roman settlement have been uncovered at the construction site of a new bypass.

Artefacts discovered in Kingskerswell include fragments of pots thought to be imported from southern Europe. Trenches used for defence were also found. 

Devon county archaeologist Bill Horner said it was an "exciting find".

The artefacts will eventually go on show at Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum.

Locals 'Romanised'
Demolition work began in October to clear the route ready for the road linking Torbay and Newton Abbot.

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First souvenirs: Enamelled vessells from Hadrians Wall

Three small enamelled metal Roman pans – the Rudge Cup, Amiens Patera and the Ilam Pan – thought to be the first souvenirs from Hadrian’s Wall are featured in a new book edited by Roman expert David Breeze.

The pans are about the size of wine glasses and are decorated with the names of forts along the western sector of Hadrian’s Wall from Bowness-on-Solway to Great Chesters. They were made in the decades following the building of Hadrian’s Wall in AD 122.

Tourist attractions across the Empire

Souvenir items for Roman tourists to buy have also been found at other famous places across the empire such as Athens, Ephesos and Alexandria.

David Breeze said: “Remarkably it seems that Hadrian’s Wall was a tourist attraction soon after it was built. None of the pans were found on the Wall, but in southern England and France.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology

Now is the time to enrol for Hilary term online courses in Archaeology.

Each courses lasts for 10 weeks, with the expectation of c. 10 hours study a week.  Students submit two short assignments.   

Successful completion of the courses carries a credit of 10 CATS Points.

CATS Points from these courses can now be used as part of the requirement for the new Certificate in Higher Education offered by the University of Oxford.

The following courses are available: (click on the title for further information)

Greek Mythology                  Origins of Human Behaviour               Pompey and the cities                                                                                                         of the Roman World

Ritual and Religion in Prehistory                          Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers

You can find general information about University of Oxford courses here...

Roman Settlement and Possible Prehistoric Site Uncovered in Northern Italy

Paolo Visonà, of the University of Kentucky, works with an Italian archaeologist to uncover the base of a Roman funerary altar. (Credit: Photo courtesy of UK School of Art and Visual Studies)

Over the summer a team of faculty and students from University of Kentucky discovered evidence of not just one lost community, but two in northern Italy. Using their archaeological expertise and modern technology, data was collected indicating the existence of a Roman settlement and below that, a possible prehistoric site.

Many years ago, archaeologist and art historian Paolo Visonà, a native of northern Italy and adjunct associate professor of art history in the UK School of Art and Visual Studies at the UK College of Fine Arts, first learned of a possible ancient settlement from a farmer in Valbruna, near the village of Tezze di Arzignano. While working his family's land, Battista Carlotto had discovered artifacts that looked to Visonà like ceramics, mosaic, and glass of the Roman Empire.

Curiosity of what lay beneath the farmland was piqued in both gentlemen. With the approval of Carlotto and with little time to waste due to growing development in the area, Visonà began to research historical accounts of the region. Manuscripts found in Vicenza's Bertoliana Library confirmed Visonà's suspicion; in the late 18th century witnesses had shared accounts of seeing a Roman city's remains in the vicinity.

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Restoration of Roman tunnels gives a slave's eye view of Caracalla baths

 Tourists will see 'maniacal Roman perfection and incredible hydraulic technology' in labyrinth under Rome's Caracalla baths

The temple to Mithras under the Caracalla baths. Initiates to the cult would line in a niche and be drenched in the blood of sacrificed bulls. Photograph: Chris Warde-Jones

In the middle of a patch of grass amid the ruins of the Caracalla baths in Rome, there is a staircase that takes visitors deep into the ground to a world resembling the lair of a James Bond villain.

"This is our glimpse at maniacal Roman perfection, at incredible hydraulic technology," said archaeologist Marina Piranomonte, as she descended and waved at a network of high and wide tunnels, each measuring six metres (20ft) high and wide, snaking off into the darkness.

The baths, on a sprawling site slightly off the beaten track in a city crowded by monumental attractions, hold their own against the nearby Circus Maximus, its shattered walls standing 37 metres high, recalling its second century heyday when it pulled in 5,000 bathers a day.

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Mosaic Floor Unearthed in Didymoteicho

well-preserved archaeological finds have been discovered during this year’s excavations at what has been identified as the ancient Plotinopolis, situated in the outskirts of modern-day Didymoteicho, northeastern Greece. Plotinopolis was a Roman city founded by the Roman Emperor Traianus, who named it after his wife Plotini.

The hill of Aghia Petra, just outside Didymoteicho, has been the focus of archaeological interest since before World War II, while in 1965 a golden forged bust of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus was found there. From 1965 onward, the 19th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities has been conducting systematic excavations in the area.

The mosaics  unearthed, form part of the floor of a typical Roman triclinium, the formal dining room in Roman houses. Monstrous ichtyocentaurs and Nereids are depicted in the mosaic unearthed, along with portrayals of the God of Eurus River and Plotini.

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Ancient stage where Nero performed as actor found

Excavation work conducted at the ancient theatre of Nikopolis [Credit: Ethnos]

Part of the paved floor of the orchestra on which Nero once stood as an… actor has recently come to light by archaeologists at the Roman theatre of Nikopolis (Epirus).

Nikopolis (the city of victory) was founded in 31 BC by Octavian in memory of his victory over Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. In further celebration of his victory, he instituted the Actian games, in honor of Apollo Aktios, to be held every five years.

Emperor Nero visited Nikopolis in 66 AD. His visit was part of his tour of Greece. During his stay, he took part in the Actian games, namely in music and drama competitions. Coins were issued bearing the Emperor’s portrait as a sign of respect, while the city’s name changed to “Neronikopolis”.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Send for the bard! Carnyx discovery leaves archaeologists little the wiser

In the Asterix books, Cacofonix the bard is forbidden to sing because his voice causes wild boar, villagers, Normans and Romans alike to flee. But Cacofonix does play the carnyx, a long, slender trumpet-like instrument decorated with an animal's head at the top end, and used by the Celts in the last three centuries BC.

The Greek historian Polybius (206-126BC) was so impressed by the clamour of the Gallic army and the sound of the carnyx, he observed that, "there were countless trumpeters and horn blowers and since the whole army was shouting its war cries at the same time there was such a confused sound that the noise seemed to come not only from the trumpeters and the soldiers but also from the countryside which was joining in the echo".

When the remains of seven carnyx were unearthed recently, Christophe Maniquet, an archaeologist at Inrap, the national institute for preventive archaeological research (Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives), was curious to find out exactly what sound it produced when it drove the Romans mad, or was used to call upon the god Toutatis.

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Archaeology: Basilica from the time of Constantine the Great found at Sofia’s Serdica West Gate

Archaeologists in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia have found a basilica said to date from the time of emperor Constantine the Great in the area of the West Gate of Serdica, as the city was known in Roman times.

The basilica is 27 metres wide and about 100m long, according to Yana Borissova-Katsarova, head of research at the site. It featured multi-coloured mosaics. Further exploration of the find will be difficult because of its location under the modern city.

Sofia deputy mayor in charge of culture, Todor Chobanov, said that the discovery of the basilica may be proof that Constantine intended to establish the city as a centre of Christianity.

Constantine, who ruled from 306 to 337 CE, was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Sofia, as Serdica, was under Roman rule from 29 BCE and remained under Roman and later Byzantine rule, with some interruptions because of Hun invasions and destruction, for a number of centuries.

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Gallic elite prospered from Roman occupation

In 2010 French archaeologists carried out excavations on a 3.5 hectares site in Bassing, Moselle. Over a period of one thousand years – 200 BCE to 800 CE – this site had been occupied by a Gallic aristocratic establishment, a Gallo-Roman villa and several medieval buildings.

Elite farmer and warrior

Between 150 and 120 BCE, a large rural settlement was built at Bassing. A 3 metre wide ditch with sloping sides and palisade surrounded the habitation area (1 hectare in size). Inside this stood wooden farm buildings and a farmhouse. This group lasted until 14 CE.

The size of the farm and its ditches and the richness of the excavated materials has reveal the privileged status of the occupants. The jewellery featured bracelets of cobalt blue glass along with a piece of Baltic amber and123 fibulae, some of which had been produced on-site. In fact, the site produced evidence for foundry activities, spinning, weaving and shoemaking. It is also apparent from the discovery of many amphorae and Italian drink strainers that wine imported from the Mediterranean was drunk in large quantities.

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First Harbor of Ancient Rome Rediscovered

Aerial view of Ostia and the position of its filled in ancient harbour basin (in the foreground). On the left of the picture, the Tiber flows along the Imperial Palace. In red, the coring sites. 
(Credit: © S. Keay)

Archaeologists have unearthed the great ancient monuments of Ostia, but the location of the harbour which supplied Rome with wheat remained to be discovered. Thanks to sedimentary cores, this " lost " harbour has eventually been located northwest of the city of Ostia, on the left bank of the mouth of the Tiber. Stratigraphy has revealed that at its foundation, between the 4th and 2nd century BC, the basin was deeper than 6.5 m, the depth of a seaport.

his research was carried out by a French-Italian team of the Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée (CNRS / Université Lumière Lyon 2), the Ecole Française de Rome and Speciale per i Beni Soprintendenza Archeologici di Roma -- Sede di Ostia* and will be published in the Chroniques des Mélanges de l'Ecole Française de Rome in December 2012.

According to ancient texts, Ostia was founded by Ancus Marcius, the 4th king of Rome. This new settlement is supposed to have aimed three goals: to give Rome an outlet to the sea, to ensure its supply of wheat and salt and finally, to prevent an enemy fleet to ascend the Tiber. Archeological excavations showed that the original urban core (castrum) dates back to the turn of the 4th and 3th centuries BC. Major ancient buildings and main roads were progressively revealed, but the location of the Ostia river mouth harbour remained unknown to this day. For some, it was considered as lost forever.

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Roman road uncovered in York

This is the 10,000th post on the 

Ian Milstead Lead Archaeologist from YAT cleaning Roman Road beneath York Minster.

A SECTION of Roman Road has been discovered beneath York Minster. 

Archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust unearthed it during construction work on the new visitor development in the Undercroft, a Minster spokeswoman said today. 

The archaeologists believe the road was a backstreet, part of the Via Quintana, and believe it ran behind the Roman basilica that once stood on the Minster site. 

A Minster spokeswoman said: "The backstreet was used for hundreds of years and was frequently patched and repaired, falling into disuse at the same time as the Basilica itself."

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lottery grant could help buy Bath Roman coin hoard

A coin from 32 BC similar to the one pictured was the oldest identified so far

A £50,000 lottery grant could help keep a hoard of Roman coins in Bath.

The Beau Street Hoard of 20,000 silver coins was discovered by archaeologists in 2007 and is thought to be the fifth largest find of its kind in the UK.

Some of the coins date back as far as 32BC and are currently being cleaned at the British Museum.

The initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund could lead to a further £480,000 grant in 2013.

Bath and North East Somerset Council said it wanted to develop learning and community activities around the hoard.

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Classics professor unearths archaeological clues about ancient Roman vineyards

They may not look like much to the untrained eye, but these ancient Roman grape seeds, believed to back to the 1st century A.D., could provide “a real breakthrough” in the understanding of the history of Chianti vineyards in the area, de Grummond says. (—Call it a toast to the past. A Florida State University classics professor whose decades of archaeological work on a remote hilltop in Italy have dramatically increased understanding of the ancient Etruscan culture is celebrating yet another find.

Read more at:
They may not look like much to the untrained eye, but these ancient Roman grape seeds, believed to back to the 1st century A.D., could provide “a real breakthrough” in the understanding of the history of Chianti vineyards in the area, de Grummond says. (—Call it a toast to the past. A Florida State University classics professor whose decades of archaeological work on a remote hilltop in Italy have dramatically increased understanding of the ancient Etruscan culture is celebrating yet another find.

Read more at:
They may not look like much to the untrained eye, but these ancient Roman grape seeds, believed to back to the 1st century A.D., could provide “a real breakthrough” in the understanding of the history of Chianti vineyards in the area, de Grummond says.

Read more at:
They may not look like much to the untrained eye, but these ancient Roman grape seeds, believed to back to the 1st century A.D., could provide “a real breakthrough” in the understanding of the history of Chianti vineyards in the area, de Grummond says. 

(—Call it a toast to the past. A Florida State University classics professor whose decades of archaeological work on a remote hilltop in Italy have dramatically increased understanding of the ancient Etruscan culture is celebrating yet another find. 

 This time around it's not the usual shards of pottery and vessels, remnants of building foundations or other ancient artifacts unearthed in past years, but rather a treasure that's far more earthy: grape seeds. 

Actually, Nancy Thomson de Grummond has discovered some 150 waterlogged grape seeds that have some experts in vineyard-grape DNA sequencing very excited.

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Resurrecting the ancient city of Laodicea

Cranes, excavators, teams of workmen in hard-hats and foremen shouting into their mobile phones are a ubiquitous feature of today's Turkey, a country where, in spite of a global economic slowdown, new buildings continue to be erected at a staggering rate. Take a trip to Laodicea, however, and you'll see a “building site” with a twist. For here a long abandoned Greek-Roman city is being resurrected wholesale from its ruins by … construction cranes and teams of workmen in hard-hats!

Sprawling across a low hill between the prosperous textile town of Denizli and the iconic travertine formations of Pamukkale in western Turkey, ancient Laodicea is generally overlooked by the vast majority of visitors, who tend to be drawn instead to Pamukkale and its associated site of Hierapolis, or the wonderful remains at Aphrodisias, not too much further away. Only bible groups, attracted to Laodicea because it is one of the Seven Churches mentioned in the New Testament's Revelation of John, buck the trend.

That Laodicea is relatively little visited is hardly surprising given its press. The current edition of Lonely Planet Turkey says “there's not much of interest left,” the Rough Guide to Turkey doesn't even mention the site. A late 1980s version of the more specialist, archaeology and history-orientated Blue Guide writes of Laodicea, “Much of its worked stone has been removed for building purposes and, unfortunately, little is being done to preserve its remaining structures from further damage.”

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Norwich Castle Museum set to acquire 'curious' treasure

A gold earring disc, found in Norfolk by a metal detector enthusiast, has left treasure experts baffled as to the exact meaning of its decoration.

Discovered in Keswick, near Norwich, the disc "is an unusual find for the Roman period", said a Norwich Castle Museum spokesman.

It features a scorpion, phallus, snake and crab, but the meaning of the combination "is lost" an expert said.
The Norwich museum hopes to acquire the disc for its collection.

The value of the item will now be determined by experts at the British Museum.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gladiator's Tomb to Be Reburied

The tomb of the ancient Roman hero believed to have inspired the Russell Crowe blockbuster "Gladiator," might be returned to oblivion four years after its discovery in Rome.

A lack of fundings is forcing Italian archaeologists to bury again the large marble monument of Marcus Nonius Macrinus, a general and consul who achieved major victories in military campaigns for Antoninus Pius, the Roman emperor from 138 to 161 A.D., and Marcus Aurelius, emperor from 161 to 180 A.D.

Unearthed in 2008 on the banks of the Tiber near the via Flaminia, north of Rome, the tomb, complete with the dedicatory inscription, was hailed as "the most important ancient Roman monument to come to light for 20 or 30 years."

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

'First tartan' on Roman statue

The Caledonian warrior on the bronze statue appears to be wearing tartan trews
Remnants of a Roman statue in North Africa could be the "first-ever depiction of tartan", according to a BBC Scotland documentary.

A piece of a bronze statue of the Emperor Caracalla contains the small figure of a Caledonian warrior wearing what appears to be tartan trews.

The third century Roman emperor Caracalla styled himself as the conqueror of the Caledonians.
A statue marking his achievements stood in the Moroccan city of Volubilis.
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Monday, December 3, 2012

New Roman Circus visitor centre plans unveiled

THESE are the first images of what Colchester’s Roman Circus visitor centre could look like.
Colchester Archaeological Trust has submitted new and more ambitious £1.3million plans to the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

They include recreating the circus’s entrance gates, a roof top viewing platform and a tea room at Roman Circus House in Circular Road North, Colchester. 

Displays inside the heritage centre will feature giant models of the circus and the Roman town.
Philip Crummy, trust director, said: “We are very excited about the project."

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Main excavations completed at 8-10 Moorgate

MOLA has completed the main excavation in the central part of the 8-10 Moorgate site in the City of London and the discoveries have proven to be even more exciting than our initial investigations in 2010! The redevelopment of the site by Stanhope and Mitsui Fudosan has provided MOLA with an exciting opportunity to investigate a large area on the banks of the Walbrook stream, a tributary of the Thames that flowed through the heart of the Roman City. 

The buildings uncovered date from the 1st century (the time when the Roman city was founded) to the 3rd century and include both masonry, and clay and timber buildings as well as circular wattle structures; thought to be animal pens. 
In addition to the main buildings, fences, gravel alleyways and wells have been discovered, creating a vivid picture of a community living and working at the eastern edge of the Walbrook stream.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wall at Pompeii collapses after heavy rain

A photo taken in September 2012 shows a cordonned-off area after the collapse of a roofing beam at the Pompeii archaeological site. A Roman wall at the site has collapsed, local archaeologists said Friday, in the latest in a series of accidents at the ancient city buried by a volcanic explosion 2,000 years ago [Credit: AFP]

A Roman wall at Pompeii in southern Italy has collapsed, local archaeologists said Friday, in the latest in a series of accidents at the ancient city buried by a volcanic explosion 2,000 years ago.

The section of wall some two metres (seven feet)long was part of the ruins of a house at the sprawling site near Naples. The area has seen heavy rain in recent weeks, and previous collapses have been linked to bad weather.

The area was already closed to the public because it was believed to be at risk. It was scheduled for restoration as part of the "Great Pompeii Project".

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