Monday, September 30, 2013

Huge Chichester stone could be head of Roman Emperor Nero, say archaeologists

A 26-stone head found in a flower bed in a Hampshire vicarage garden could represent Nero, the rarely-glimpsed Emperor whose first century rule over the Roman Empire began when he was a 14-year-old.

Known as the Bosham Head, the spectacular cranium imposes itself within the Collections Discovery Centre at Fishbourne. Archaeologists have been using 3D scanning in a bid to determine whether it was carved seperately from its body.

“The Jupiter Stone found beneath the post office on West Street depicts the iconic image of the three graces, although only two women are shown,” says Anooshka Rawden, the Collections Officer at Chichester’s Novium museum.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013


Left to right: Nigel Mills, Hadrian's Wall Trust, archaeologists Jeremy Bradley and Stephen Rowland, Oxford Archaeology North and Rachel Newman, Senhouse Museum Trust.

An eight week dig at the Roman settlement site at Maryport has revealed the remains of six buildings, including at least one shop, and a Roman road.
The dig has been commissioned by the Hadrian’s Wall Trust and funded by philanthropist Christian Levett.  Oxford Archaeology North, from Lancaster, have been carrying out the dig assisted by a team of volunteer and trainee excavators.

Shop with flagged floors

Stephen Rowland, project manager for Oxford Archaeology North said: “Previous detailed geophysical surveys of the site have shown lines of structures likely to be buildings either side of the main street running from the north east gate of the fort, so we had a good idea where to start digging and we’ve been able to confirm the survey results.
The building we’ve spent most time looking at this year might have been a shop at some point during its use. It is stone built and 5 metres wide by 20 metres long with several rooms, some with flagged floors.
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Thursday, September 26, 2013


Digging underway at the theatre on the site of the Roman town Iteramna Lirenas: Credit: N Sodeberg

rchitectural remains from a Roman theatre buried beneath the Italian countryside are providing new clues as to the importance of a town abandoned by civilisation 1,500 years ago.
The head of a lion and griffin, believed to be part of the decoration of the theatre, as well as stone blocks with steps carved into them, are helping to further revise historical understanding about the site of Interamna Lirenas, founded by the Romans in the late 4th century BCE.

Mapped by geophysical analysis and imaging

The town, which disappeared following its abandonment around 500 CE, was last year mapped by geophysical analysis and imaging undertaken by a team of researchers led by Cambridge archaeologists Dr Alessandro Launaro and Professor Martin Millett from the Faculty of Classics.
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Discovery of sacred Roman well amazes archaeology team

IT’S the most significant archaeological discovery in the Portsmouth area for many years.
Buried a few feet under a garden in the centre of Havant, archaeologists stumbled upon a Roman well filled with coins and a bronze ring with a carving of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.
Perhaps most intriguing was the discovery of eight dog skeletons at the bottom of the well.
Experts believe the dogs, which were worshipped in some ancient religions, may have been dropped down the ‘sacred well’ as a sacrifice to the gods.
The excavation was done at Homewell House, a Georgian property behind St Faith’s Church that is undergoing renovation.
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Skeleton of ancient prince reveals Roman life

Italian archaeologists have unearthed a 2,600-year-old intact Etruscan tomb that promises to reveal new depths of one of the ancient worlds most fascinating and mysterious cultures. (ROSSELLA LORENZI)

The skeletonized body of an Etruscan prince, possibly a relative to Tarquinius Priscus, the legendary fifth king of Rome from 616 to 579 B.C., has been brought to light in an extraordinary finding that promises to reveal new insights on one of the ancient world’s most fascinating cultures.

Found in Tarquinia, a hill town about 50 miles northwest of Rome, famous for its Etruscan art treasures, the 2,600 year old intact burial site came complete with a full array of precious grave goods.

“It’s a unique discovery, as it is extremely rare to find an inviolate Etruscan tomb of an upper-class individual. It opens up huge study opportunities on the Etruscans,” Alessandro Mandolesi, of the University of Turin, told Discovery News. Mandolesi is leading the excavation in collaboration with the Archaeological Superintendency of Southern Etruria.

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Her name was Amica (loved friend) and her name and footprint are embedded in a terra cotta tile along side her friend Detfri. The signed tile is a rare find, as Amica was a Roman slave and not only her name, but a tangible imprint of her life, in the form of her footprint survives to this day.
For the most part, the slaves of the well-preserved city of Pompeii still remain largely “invisible” in history, according to the University of Delaware’s Lauren Hackworth Petersen.

A hidden history

Petersen is exploring new approaches to bring the lives of Pompeii’s slaves out of the shadows by drawing on literature, law, art and other material evidence. The research is part of a forthcoming book she is co-authoring with Sandra Joshel, at the University of Washington.

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Head of Aphrodite statue unearthed in Turkey

A group of archaeologists has discovered a life-sized marble head of Aphrodite while uncovering an ancient pool-side mosaic in southern Turkey.

Head of Aphrodite statue unearthed in Turkey
The head of an Aphrodite sculpture was discovered in southern Turkey during archaeological
excavations [Credit: Michael Hoff, University of Nebraska-Lincoln]
Buried under soil for hundreds of years, the goddess of love and beauty has some chipping on her nose and face. Researchers think her presence could shed light on the extent of the Roman Empire's wide cultural influence at the time of its peak.

Archaeologists found the sculpture while working at a site called Antiochia ad Cragum (Antioch on the cliffs), on the Mediterranean coast. The researchers believe the region, which is dotted with hidden inlets and coves, would have been a haven for Cilician pirates — the same group who kidnapped Julius Caesar and held him for ransom around 75 B.C.  

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Warrior grave found in excavation

Don Shimmin with some of the spears found in the warrior grave

A WARRIOR grave dating back 2,000 years has been discovered under the site of a new golf clubhouse.

Archaeologists have been investigating land at the Playgolf course in Bakers Lane, Colchester, before work starts on the new range.

And Philip Crummy, director of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, said evidence had been found of a warrior’s grave - complete with five spears.

Mr Crummy said the grave would have belonged to a member of the Catuvellauni tribe just before the Roman conquests of Britain.
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Anti-mafia squad investigates Pompeii

Water is wreaking havoc on the red frescoes that characterise the Casa delle Pareti Rosse

Italy’s anti-mafia squad, the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia, is investigating conservation projects in Pompeii. The Naples-based agency is working closely with the ministry of culture and police to weed out the involvement of organised crime from the archaeological site, which has come under fire from Unesco for failing to address damage to the ancient city’s damaged buildings and frescoes.
The Great Pompeii Project has received a total of €105m of funding from the Italian government and the European Union. 

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pagan-era rock tombs unearthed in southeastern part of Turkey

The Pagan-era tombs were discovered during construction works that were being conducted to enlarge a road heading to a tent city erected for Syrian refugees.

Construction in the southeastern province of Mardin’s Midyat district has unearthed ancient rock tombs that are believed to date from the pagan era between the third and second centuries B.C. 

The tombs were discovered during construction works that were being conducted to enlarge a road heading to a tent city erected for Syrian refugees. 

A total of four rock tombs were initially discovered, but subsequent excavation work at Mor İbraham Church and other venues revealed an additional 11 tombs, some with human skeletons.

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Large fragment of chain mail from Harzhorn found at Kalefeld near Göttingen. 
Credit: Clemens Fiedler

Archaeologists from Freie Universität Berlin made a spectacular discovery in their excavations of a Roman-Germanic battlefield at the Harzhorn in Lower Saxony. While exploring the area near Kalefeld in the Northeim district north of Göttingen, the researchers, headed by Prof. Dr. Michael Meyer, found the chain mail of a Roman soldier from the Third Century AD.
It was the first time that such a well-preserved piece of body armour was excavated on a Roman-Germanic battlefield. This find made it possible to reconstruct an individual story in the battle, a close-up image of the war, said Michael Meyer, a professor of prehistoric archaeology at Freie Universität Berlin.

Located on edge of battlefield

The chain mail, which was found in several fragments, consists of thousands of small chain links with a diameter of about six millimetres. The iron in the rings, however, is largely decomposed. Chain mail was worn in battle by Roman soldiers of various ranks. Germanic warriors usually waived this protection; however, in Germanic burial grounds, remains of those laboriously produced armour can often be found. In this case, not only the object itself was an unusual find, but also the position in which it was found. It was located directly on the edge of the battlefield with probably the most intense combat action that could be detected on the Harzhorn hill.
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Hadrian's Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site in half million pound refurbishment

Visitors to Hadrian’s Wall have always been encouraged to treat the 73-mile long UNESCO World Heritage Site with care.

Nearly 2,000 years of erosion, not to mention pillaging by locals, have turned the site from formidable fortification into a broken series of forts and a low three foot wall.

Recent visitors to the Wall might, therefore, have been surprised to see archaeologists taking the wall apart.

Hadrian’s Wall is on many monument lists and registers but the most unfortunate is English Heritage's At Risk Register. In an effort to preserve the wall for future generations, the SITA Trust (an independent environmental funding body) has awarded the Hadrian’s Wall Trust a grant of £537,185 to rebuild parts of the wall, improve access in some areas and provide new signage and interpretation.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Roman period urn grave found in Poland

Crematory pit and urn grave from the 1st/2nd century AD have been discovered by archaeologists during excavations in the Roman period cemetery in Czelin (Zachodniopomorskie).

Roman period urn grave found in Poland
The urn grave discovered by archaeologists during excavations in the Roman
period cemetery in Czelin [Credit: Bartłomiej Rogalski]
Bartłomiej Rogalski from the National Museum in Szczecin , who conducts research, said in an interview with PAP that the form of the clay urn and the specific "toothed wheel" decorating technique are typical for the Elbe area, lying west of the Oder .

According to Rogalski, the ornament on the vessel is in turn typical for the Przeworsk culture , which at that time occupied territories of Wielkopolska and Silesia. "This conglomerate of various cultural trends is symptomatic of Lubusz group" - added Rogalski. In the second, pit burial, in addition to bone archaeologists have also found pieces of similarly ornamented pottery. In the immediate vicinity of the burials, archaeologists have discovered the complex of furnaces and setts.

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Declassified Spy Photos Show Ancient Roman Walls In Romania

Archaeologists from two United Kingdom universities examining declassified spy photos rediscovered part of a what they believe is a series of Roman fortifications dating back to the 2nd century A.D.
Although parts of the ruins had once been known to 19th-century researchers, they were subsequently misidentified, dismissed and largely forgotten, according to Bill Hanson, a professor of Roman archaeology at the University of Glasgow. In some areas the structures were heavily damaged by ploughing or construction -- even to the point of complete destruction.
"If you look at any modern book on Roman frontiers, you will find no mention of [these fortifications]," Hanson told The Huffington Post. "[They have] kind of disappeared from consciousness."
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