Monday, March 31, 2014

Developers destroy 2,000-year-old Winchester Roman wall

AFTER: The site after the wall was destroyed.

IT was a plan that sparked outrage.
But despite pleas to save a 2,000-year-old Roman wall from destruction, developers have gone ahead and carted the relic off in a lorry.
As previously reported, historians were angered when it emerged thatBargate Homes were considering breaking the wall down to make way for 14 homes at the site, in Southgate Street, Winchester.
But the proposal has now become a reality.
Colin Cook, of the Winchester Area Tourist Guides Association, witnessed the destruction.
He said: “It’s desperately sad. I have got sympathy with Bargate Homes but Winchester City Council planners need to be a lot more aware of the sensitivities of these sites when they’re giving permission. As far as I can see it’s gone away on a lorry. There is no possibility of rebuilding it anywhere else.”
Read the rest of this article...

Roman Emperor Dressed As Egyptian Pharaoh in Newfound Carving

A newfound stone carving reveals Roman Emperor Claudius dressed as an Egyptian pharaoh while wearing an elaborate crown. The hieroglyphs say Claudius is raising the pole of the cult chapel of Egyptian fertility god Min and suggests a ritual like this took place around the summertime.
Credit: Photo by Marleen De Meyer, line drawing by Troy Sagrillo.

An ancient stone carving on the walls of an Egyptian temple depicts the Roman emperor Claudius dressed as an Egyptian pharaoh, wearing an elaborate crown, a team of researchers has discovered.

In the carving, Emperor Claudius, who reigned from A.D. 41 to 54, is shown erecting a giant pole with a lunar crescent at the top. Eight men, each wearing two feathers, are shown climbing the supporting poles, with their legs dangling in midair.

Read the rest of this article...

Hadrian’s Wall Trust to close within six months as funding evaporates

The trust set up to manage Hadrian’s Wall is to close in six months after funding dried up, leaving support for the World Heritage Site “uncertain”. 

Hadrian's Wall stretches 84 miles [Credit: Rex Features] 

Hadrian’s Wall Trust revealed it is to close this week, with a series of organisations scrabbling to put funding in place to ensure one of Britain’s most famous monuments can be adequately maintained in the long term.

 Linda Tuttiett, chief executive of the Trust, said: “We hope and pray resources can be found to keep the heritage site safe” after confirming that funding cuts had forced the trustees to close the seven-year-old organisation.

Read the rest of this article...

Beachy Head Lady was young sub-Saharan Roman with good teeth, say archaeologists

Was this Sussex’s first sub-Saharan resident? Heritage Officer Jo Seaman reveals the quest for the Beachy Head Lady in Eastbourne

The figure known as Beachy Head Lady has gone on show to the public in Eastbourne
© Graham Huntley

“We had over 300 different individuals – most skeletons, but some cremations. The idea was to go back through all those. We had some information about some of them but others we had nothing on.

They were held in the basement of the town hall, where I keep my archaeology collection. They came primarily from two main Saxon cemeteries that were excavated – one in particular had over 200 graves.

Read the rest of this article...

Unearthing a Roman civilian's past at Maryport

An archaeological team is unearthing the remains of a Roman fort and settlement in the hope of gaining a better understanding of everyday Roman civilian life. 

The settlement is believed to have been divided into a series of long plots which  extended along a 1,378ft (420m) length of Roman road leading to the  fort gate [Credit: Hadrian's Wall Trust] 

Oxford Archaeology (OA) and a team of volunteers are excavating an extramural settlement at Maryport Roman fort on the west coast of Cumbria. 

Built high on the cliffs overlooking Solway Firth, it is believed the fort was founded in the First Century AD when the Roman army initially entered the region.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shipwrecks Lost to Time That Archaeologists Would Love to Get Their Hands On

This 102-foot-long Roman barge from the first century A.D. was lifted in 2011 from the Rhône River in Arles, France. It was virtually intact after two millennia in the mud.

Finding modern ships lost at sea, even with the help of radar, sonar, and satellites, can be a herculean task. But trying to find a shipwreck from thousands of years ago is even harder. It's like looking for a wooden needle in a haystack after part of the needle has rotted away.

Underwater archaeologists keep looking, though, because finding one of these shipwrecks could yield a treasure trove of information—from how ancient peoples built their vessels to where they traveled and who their trading partners were.

Figuring out those connections would allow researchers to better understand ancient economies, and to put the cultures into a more global context, says James Delgado, director of maritime heritage for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Read the rest of this article...

Did women in Greece and Rome speak?

Gold finger-ring with a seated woman, perhaps Penelope. Western Greek, around 400 BC – 300 BC, possibly made in Sicily. GR 1867,0508.402

Did women in Greece and Rome speak? Stupid question; of course they did. They must have chattered and joked together, laughed at the silliness of their menfolk, advised (or chatted up) their husbands, given lessons to their children… and much, much more.
But nowhere in the ancient world did they ever have a recognised voice in public – beyond, occasionally, complaining about the abuse they must often have suffered. Those who did speak out got ridiculed as being androgynes (‘men-women’). The basic motto (as for Victorian children) was that women should be seen and not heard, and best of all not seen either.
Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cambridge University archaeologists find 'oldest' Roman irrigation system

It is thought the beds would have been used to grow grapes or asparagus

Excavations at a Cambridge University development have revealed what archaeologists believe is Britain's oldest-known Roman irrigation system.
Planting beds and pit wells were unearthed at the North West Cambridge site near Huntingdon Road.
Chris Evans from the university's archaeological unit said they dated from between 70 AD and 120 AD.
It was an "unparalleled discovery" and "effectively the first irrigation system we've seen", he said.
Read the rest of this article...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Diving into archaeology

Only the foundations of the former basilica remain under Lake Iznik

The rubble-strewn remains of a 1,600-year-old basilica, dedicated to St Neophytos, have been discovered under Lake Iznik in Turkey’s northwestern Bursa province. Though located only 20 metres from the shore, and at a depth of around 2 metres, the basilica’s existence was unknown until January, when aerial photographs of the area were taken as part of a project to record local historic monuments. A diving team has now investigated the submerged structure and, due to similarities with the Hagia Sophia church in Iznik, experts have dated it to the fourth or fifth centuries. They have suggested it was built on the spot where Roman soldiers martyred St Neophytos in AD303; occurrences of the saint’s name have been found nearby and Medieval engravings show the saint being killed on the edge of a lake. It is thought an earthquake in AD740 caused the basilica to collapse and sink under the lake. The future of the site now rests in the hands of Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry, who can designate it a protected site or open it up to recreational divers.

Read the rest of this article...

Still discovering things about the Ghajn Tuffieha Roman baths

The Roman baths along the road from Mġarr to Gћajn Tuffieћa were unearthed by accident in 1929, but archaeologists and other experts are still discovering things at the site.
So said the deputy leader of excavations, Heritage Malta’s David Caruana, who was speaking at a lecture organised by Din l-Art Ħelwa last week.
The baths were discovered when workers were digging down to pass a conduit to enable the flow of water to water the fields. A certain Mr Rizzo, presumably their foreman, informed Sir Temi Zammit that, under some three feet of soil, they had discovered remains that they thought were archaeological.
Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

British Museum's Warren Cup branded a forgery

A Roman silver drinking vessel that depicts two sets of male lovers is one of the most prized jewels in the British Museum, singled out by director Neil MacGregor for his critically acclaimed History of the World in 100 Objects. 

The British Museum says the Warren Cup dates from the 1st century AD 
[Credit:: Martin Godwin/Guardian] 

But on Wednesday, 15 years after the British Museum bought the Warren Cup for £1.8m, a highly respected German archaeologist suggested it could be a forgery. 

At a public debate staged by King's College London, Prof Luca Giuliani challenged the museum's view that it dates from the 1st century AD.

Read the rest of this article...

Laser and radar unveil the secrets of Roman bridges

3D model of the Roman bridge of Segura, on the border between Spain and Portugal.
Credit: Grupo de Geotecnologías Aplicadas (UVigo)

Dscovering hidden arches, visualising the sloped outline characteristic of the medieval period, finding a Renaissance engraving on a Roman arch or detecting restorations: these are some of the results that have been obtained by researchers at the University of Vigo (Spain) in their study of more than 80 Roman and medieval bridges. The assessment was carried out with the help of a ground-penetrating radar, a laser scanner and mathematical models, technology that benefit conservation.

In recent years, UNESCO and other organisations concerned with the conservation of cultural heritage have underlined the importance of using non-destructive methods to document monuments´ characteristics and evaluate their state of conservation.

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Damaged Pompeii to receive Italy rescue fund

A number of structures, including the Temple of Venus and Roma, were damaged by heavy rainfall on Sunday and Monday. The decay prompted calls for action from the European Union and the United Nations. 

Heavy rain washed away the walls of this tomb area in Pompeii [Credit: AAP/BBC] 

The site, where volcanic ash smothered a Roman city in AD79, has suffered slow degradation for many years. It is one of the world's greatest archaeological treasures. Every year, some 2.5m tourists visit Pompeii, which sits near the southern city of Naples. 

Read the rest of this article...