Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Archaeologists discover Roman 'free choice' cemetery in the 2,700-year-old ancient port of Rome

A photo shows a marble floor part of the last discoveries at the Parco dei Ravennati excavation site in Ostia Antica on July 17, 2014 near Rome. The American Institute for Roman Culture organized a visit of the site today to present new evidences of multiple domestic spaces and commercial activities in the Parco dei Ravennati, alongside the ancient Tiber River course (now silted over), in a place previously considered only a necropolis. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO. By: Laure Brumont

Archaeologists in Italy have uncovered a cemetery in the 2,700-year-old ancient port of Rome where they believe the variety of tombs found reflects the bustling town's multi-cultural nature. Ostia "was a town that was always very open, very dynamic," said Paola Germoni, the director of the sprawling site -- Italy's third most visited after the Colosseum and Pompeii. "What is original is that there are different types of funeral rites: burials and cremations," she said this week. The contrasts are all the more startling as the tombs found are all from a single family -- "in the Roman sense, in other words very extended", Germoni said. 

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Archaeologists find baths of "sociable" Romans and early evidence of Christianity

The altar found at Binchester
© Courtesy Durham University

Archaeologists are calling Binchester Roman Fort "the Pompeii of the north" after finding a "spectacular" bath house with seven foot-high walls

Excavating two large trenches near Bishop Auckland, experts say a silver ring from the site evidences Christianity in Roman Britain.

The walls of the bath, where features such as a bread oven nod to an important social as well as recreational space, would once have been covered with brightly-coloured paint designs, with the original floor, doorways, window openings and an inscribed altar dedicated to the Roman Goddess, Fortune the Home-bringer, also surfacing.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Suspected Roman ritual pit found in Ewell dig

A suspected ritual pit from Roman times, containing a cow's skull, horse bones and possibly puppy bones, has been uncovered during an archaeological dig. 

The archaeological dig in Church Meadow, Ewell  [Credit: Jeremy Harte] 

The exciting discovery was made during a three-week dig in Church Meadow at the site of an important Roman road, Stane Street, in Ewell. 

Nearby at the Roman ritual site of Hatch Furlong, archaeologists have previously excavated deep shafts containing the remains of cats and dogs.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Colosseum was bustling bazaar in Dark Ages

Its gory past as an arena for gladiatorial battles and gruesome public executions is well known, but archaeologists have discovered that the Colosseum later fulfilled a very different role - as a bustling medieval bazaar full of houses, stables and workshops. 

Archaeologists have found the foundations of homes, terracotta sewage pipes  and shards of crockery [Credit Gabrielli / Toiati] 

As the glory of Rome faded and the empire crumbled in the face of barbarian invasions in the fifth century, the giant arena was colonised by ordinary Romans, who constructed dwellings and shops within its massive stone walls. 

Archaeologists have dug beneath some of the 80 arched entrances that lead into the Colosseum and have found the foundations of homes, terracotta sewage pipes and shards of crockery, dating from the ninth century AD.

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